Some individuals would rather operate as self-employed workers than as an employee at a company. These individuals perform freelance work, typically earning an income by completing multiple projects for multiple clients.
Freelance work has grown increasingly popular over the past decade. In 2021, 36% of the U.S. workforce performed some sort of freelance work. An additional 20% of current full-time employees are currently considering freelance work as a legitimate employment option.
Though it can be difficult, it offers freedom, flexibility, and a host of other appealing perks. But even if you’re not considering contracting freelancers, you can still carry over some of the benefits of freelance work into a standard business environment and give your employees the best of both worlds.
Create a Healthier Work-Life Balance
A healthy work-life balance means maintaining a productive work schedule while preserving time for friends, family members, and your personal life. Without balance, employees can easily become stressed or burnt out. These same employees often begin to resent work they once enjoyed, since it contributes to an unbalanced lifestyle.
Traditional workplaces looking to improve work-life balance — and attract and retain great employees — can employ time flexibility. This allows employees to choose when and where they work. They’ll also be able to leave the workplace to accomplish other activities, as long as they satisfy a day’s work or make up the time later.
Time flexibility in the workplace offers several distinct benefits:
- Improved employee retention: A workplace that demonstrates a commitment to its employees’ wellbeing through flexible work schedules is more likely to retain workers over time.
- Enhanced employee performance: Employees satisfied with their working conditions and with the flexibility of their workday are more likely to reach peak performance levels while in the office.
- Reduced employee anxiety: Some employees may be stressed by their commute or the amount of time they spend in an office every day. Flexible schedules can help reduce that stress.
- Optimal office environment: Employees who work from the office have often chosen to be there, helping to improve overall office morale.
Employees participating in a flexible schedule are often required to remain in the office during core work hours. This ensures that employees have time to work together and collaborate without sacrificing their flexible schedules.
Give Employees the Option to Work Remotely
Additionally, consider allowing employees to work remotely. Not only can this help you save on office expenses, but it also gives employees more freedom and control over their time and work.
Not all businesses can allow their employees to work from home on a full-time basis. However, your company might be able to set aside a day or two each week and allow employees the opportunity to work remotely. Even the occasional remote workday may help improve employee morale and enhance productivity.
Remote work offers several benefits, both for employers and employees:
- Reduced costs: Employees no longer need to spend money on a morning commute, and employers save money on office costs when employees work remotely.
- Balanced personal and professional needs: Employees can now make time during the day for a grocery store trip, doctor’s appointment, or other personal needs.
- Location flexibility: Employees can work from any place with an active internet connection, even if their home isn’t close to the office.
- Environmental sustainability: Fewer cars on the road means reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
- Office customization: Employees who work remotely can customize their desk environment, beyond what their in-office desk setup might allow for.
- Talent acquisition: Companies leveraging a remote workforce can hire individuals who might live in a different geographic location.
- Quiet productivity: In-office workspaces can sometimes be loud and distracting. By contrast, a remote environment often offers the peace and quiet you need to remain productive.
Your company can implement remote work policies in a few straightforward steps. First, gauge interest among employees. Let employees know how often they would work from home. Inform them of any new expectations — including extra meetings or project management requirements — they would need to accommodate.
Your HR department can help carry out the specifics of a remote work setup. For example, they might need to help employees maintain compliance in a remote environment, or provide technology that isn’t available outside of the office.
Assign Tasks That Highlight Employee Strengths
Freelance workers can choose which projects to take on, which means they may only work jobs that cater to their current skills and interests. By contrast, many employees in a traditional office role handle a wide range of responsibilities, including tasks they might not have the skills for or enjoy.
Companies looking to model their structure after freelance work can assign tasks that are directly correlated with employee strengths. This is one way that you can help unlock employee potential in the workplace. When employees are given tasks they can understand and comfortably complete, they’re more likely to consistently deliver high-quality work.
Before you can regularly assign employees tasks that cater to their strengths, you’ll have to help each employee hone in on the skills that make them valuable to the company. There are a variety of ways you can help employees discover their skills. You might offer employees a series of potential tasks, and allow them to choose the projects which most interest them.
It’s also important to create a culture that welcomes mistakes so that employees are free to learn and relearn skills that help them thrive. Don’t be afraid to provide employees with tasks outside of their “key role.” This can help facilitate continued, long-term growth.
Build a Relationship With Customers and Clients
Unlike many employees in a traditional workplace, freelancers tend to build relationships directly with their clients. Freelance employees work must closely alongside clients to create and deliver assets as they are requested.
Even in successful companies, employees are often kept at a distance from customers. Sometimes, company executives and account managers are the only company representatives who make direct contact with clients.
However, direct communication between employees and customers is easy to establish and can improve overall customer satisfaction. If you’re an employee, connecting directly with customers is also a great way to learn how they feel about your work. Ultimately, customer feedback helps employees create the best possible solutions for the customers they serve.
No matter your employment situation, automated processes can help drastically improve your workflow.
Some freelance workers have already integrated extensive automation into their processes. They are solely responsible for their business, making automation incredibly useful in staying on top of their work. For example, delivery drivers rely on money-saving route management automation to identify the quickest-possible route between storage facilities and destinations. Similarly, landscapers use automation to streamline scheduling, billing, and service history for all lawn care clients.
Look for opportunities to deploy automation in your current place of work. Even if you’re only saving a few dollars or a few minutes, the benefits of automation can add up over time and allow you to focus on aspects of your business that can’t be automated. This will provide you with the time and bandwidth you need to make your organization a great place for all of your employees to work.