Our objective as an agency, first and foremost, is to hire the best and brightest PR professionals—whether they’re full-time staff or freelancers. At V2 Communications, we’ve employed freelancers for years. As a PR agency, we are consistently responding to the needs and pace our clients. Freelancers enable us to meet those needs—we can add someone who has specific industry experience that will drive our clients’ businesses forward. Freelancers have been a natural solution for us during crunch times, and we’ve been able to tap our extensive network of former colleagues who can add value to account teams without requiring us to reorganize our entire staff.
As a result, we know how to effectively recruit them from afar and seamlessly weave them into our workforce. The benefits of this hybrid-talent model – that is, mixing freelancers with full-time employees – existed long before COVID-19, but the pandemic has taught us how to perfect it.
Pre-work-from-home, the obvious and slight disadvantage to using freelancers was that they’re usually not in the office with the same frequency as full-time staff, so it can be a challenge to make sure they’re assimilated. But now, because employee location is completely irrelevant, we have been able to hire freelancers from all over the country who have the skillset and experience we need to support our clients. The programs we have adopted during the pandemic to keep full time staff motivated, engaged and productive are extended to our freelancers, too. And to an extent, in this distributed remote workplace we’re all living in, we’re all working like freelancers today in the sense that we’re not in the office every day.
Managing freelancers is no different than managing anyone else. Leaders must communicate with employees clearly and often, and COVID-19 has only made this more important. We regularly check in with our employees—both freelancers and full-time—not just when issues arise, but to check in and see how they’re doing and if they have what they need to succeed.
To successfully implement a hybrid-talent model, leadership should:
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities. Freelancers need a discrete set of tasks and a closely coupled manager that they can always go to for help. It’s critical that freelancers know what they’re accountable for.
- Be open and honest with their clients about who is supporting their team. It’s important for clients to understand that a freelancer, with specific, related experience, has been brought in to work on the team and support the clients’ goals—whether it’s a long–term gig, or to cover a maternity leave or a particularly busy period when the agency needs additional boots. Business leaders should assure their clients that this freelancer is someone they’re confident in, but think of them as the cavalry, jumping in to support our common goals.