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4 Tips for Creating a Freelancer‑Friendly Culture in your CPA Firm

By Brad Hughes

  • January 14, 2020
  • 4 min. read

If you’re thinking of incorporating freelancers into your company’s workforce, join the party! Major companies like Amazon, Dell, Hilton, and Apple all use freelancers to help power their business operations, and the phenomenon is only gaining popularity. According to recent reports:

  • 66% of companies allow remote work, and 16% employ a completely remote workforce
  • The U.S. includes approximately 56.7 million people doing freelance work (35% of the entire workforce)
  • 4.3 million people in the U.S. work remotely at least 50% of the time

We work with CPA and advisory firms who say they love using freelancers because it allows them to expand the company’s talent pool, accommodate seasonality, lower operating costs, and finish projects faster. And freelancers love their contract gigs for the diversity of projects, flexible schedules, and the freedom to balance work and family or travel commitments.

While there are many benefits to outsourcing a portion of your labor, it’s natural to feel uncertain about how to go about it. At Beech Valley, we aim to help both firms and employees benefit from the freelance economy by creating a productive and inclusive work environment. If you’re uneasy or unsure about how to include freelancers into your company culture or team structure, read on.

1. Create a Connection
Ideally, your remote freelancers will feel like a part of the company’s culture, even if they’re not in the office. You may not ever see them in person, and you may even be in different parts of the country—but you should still develop a connection with your remote freelancers. Business is about relationships, and relationships build loyalty.

Here are some ideas for creating a connection with your freelancers, no matter where they are:

  • Take a few minutes at the beginning of a call to personally connect before moving onto business matters
  • That ice-breaking “getting to know you” activity you do with your full-time employees? Create a virtual version for your freelancers
  • Acknowledge their birthday with an email, handwritten note or a small token of appreciation
    Send them a holiday card—or better yet, photoshop them into the staff holiday card that you send out to all your clients and vendors
  • Create a branded welcome kit for freelancers with some company swag

2. Develop an Infrastructure for Success
So many things that seem obvious about your business (such as processes, workflows, and hierarchies) are simply not visible to others. If you can structure onboarding in a way that builds rapport, trust, and familiarity with your freelancers, your efforts will be handsomely rewarded.

Set your remote workers up for success by creating a thorough onboarding process and infrastructure that considers the needs of remote workers. Ask yourself:

  • What software or online tools will they need? Do you need to establish account credentials for them or purchase software upgrades?
  • Do they need a company email?
  • How can you adapt your in-house onboarding process to accommodate remote freelancers better?
  • Is there a company wiki or Slack channel for asking questions or solving problems?
  • Do you have handbooks and process manuals to share, or do you need to create them?
  • How will you introduce the new freelancer to the current team?

3. Make Them Feel Valued
Remote freelancers contribute to your business’ success, even though they aren’t present in the office. Just like your full-time employees, freelancers need to feel valued for their contributions. In fact, due to their relative isolation, remote workers may benefit even more from validation than your full-time employees.

  • Acknowledge your freelancers’ contributions publicly, just as you do with full-time employees—why not offer thanks or kudos via a company-wide email or a funny video?
  • Provide feedback on their work often and praise them when you see them doing something you like
  • Include them in the running for “employee of the month” contests
  • Ask for their input on projects to show that you value their opinion and expertise
  • Year-end gifts are a fantastic way to say thanks and build goodwill with your employees and freelancers—plus, they’re a tax write-off

4. Keep Them in the Loop
It’s easy to forget to include freelancers in the team memo. But instead of keeping them “out of sight, out of mind,” immerse your freelancers in company culture through deliberate and consistent communication:

  • Add them to the internal mailing list, so they are included on all company-wide correspondence
  • Establish weekly check-ins to discuss project progress, concerns, difficulties, etc.
  • Formally introduce them to all potential collaborators including department heads and other points of contact
  • Provide meeting recaps if they aren’t able to attend meetings

Are you ready to increase bandwidth in your CPA or advisory firm while enhancing productivity and satisfaction? Let us connect you with qualified, top-tier accounting freelancers today!

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