Agile companies Companies

How To Align Freelancers With Internal Employees

Cecilie Buhl

How do you align freelancers with internal employees? This question will be the focus of this blogpost. But first, I’d like for you to consider a number.


$300 billion.


Yes, it’s an outrageously large number. It’s equivalent to the GDP of South Africa. You could go to outer space 8.571 times for $300 billion – until Elon Musk succeeds in cutting the price of space travel even further. Or, you could get 150.000 Bugatti Veyron sports cars.

But $300 billion is also how much is spent on contingent labor globally, according to an Accenture study. That figure is expected to grow in the coming years. There are great benefits to reap from on-demand labor for most companies. These include optimized cost structures, improved work quality, and accelerated go-to-market capabilities, according to the study.

Most importantly, perhaps, using freelancers can foster innovation, according to the Accenture study. An essential part of any growth-driven competitive strategy.

Nearly all companies now are increasing their use of talent from the outside, by engaging freelancers, consultants, and independent workers in alternate forms of employment, according to Harvard Business Review. Business leaders increasingly recognize the need for agile staffing strategies of talent to fill critical gaps — without necessarily employing them full-time.

However, most companies don’t have the organizational set up for getting the most out of the contingent workforce, according to Harvard Business Review. And even more companies have not yet started the transition and risk losing out on on of the next great opportunities to gain a competitive advantage.

In this blogpost, we help you understand how you can align freelancers with internal employees.


A shift in the mindset: Separate and equal

Most managers would never dream of treating freelancers like internals. Freelancers are hired for projects, for the short term, to fill a specific need. But as the number of freelancers are continuing to grow worldwide that sort of thinking won’t do it.

The “separate, not equal” mentality is the very first area, leaders need to work with in order to benefit from a contingent workforce.

Leaders and managers alike must treat externals like internals, according to Harvard Business Review: Separate and equal. The studies found that companies that engage, motivate, and build teams with both internal and external staff, are the most successful.

Freelancers are interested in doing meaningful work. They want to further develop their competencies and grow their career. They want to be respected, trusted, and engaged. They want to be treated as a part of the team for the while being. Receive ongoing communication about issues relating to the problem they are solving. And be recognized for their effort. Read more about this in this blogpost Focus On Employee Experience To Attract The Best Freelancers.

Too often, they feel unappreciated by management and powerless in dealing with the administrative bureaucracy of partner organizations, according to Harvard Business Review. The key to attracting the best talent is to focus on creating a good employee experience.

Freelance workers should not be seen as a transactional relationship – “service for money.” Instead, all the recognized management best practices that we already know applies to fulltime employees accounts for the contingent workforce too. You need to align your freelancers with your internal employees, treat them as equals and nourish your relationship to them.


The complete guide on how to align freelancers with internal employees

You can use these questions from Younger and Smallwood’s book Agile Talent, published by Harvard Business Review Press as a guide to learn more about how you can align freelancers with internal employees.


Strategic alignment:

  • Is my company good at identifying areas where freelancers are required and beneficial?
  • Does my company have the critical capabilities it needs to benefit from these  freelancers?
  • Is my company effective at defining the role, relationship, and scope of initiatives addressed by freelancers?
  • Are the freelancers provided with the right level of mentorship?
  • Are timing, budget, and resourcing consistent with what is required for a successful outcome?

Performance alignment:

  • Are performance expectations clearly defined, established, and communicated?
  • How often is performance evaluated and feedback provided?
  • What metrics are used, and are they the best ones?
  • When performance problems arise, how does my company react?

Relationship alignment:

  • How much is cultural fit as well as competencies considered when hiring  freelancers?
  • Are freelancers provided with some sort of onboarding?
  • How are problems between internal staff and freelancers resolved?
  • Are freelancers engaged and treated with consideration and respect?

Administrative alignment:

  • Is my company overly bureaucratic in dealing with freelancers?
  • Are the rules and procedures communicated appropriately?
  • Is the orientation of my company one that views freelancers as colleagues or merely as a “pair of hands?”

If you’re a business leader, you should ask yourself these questions, and then start to look at how you can improve your business accordingly. The rise of flexible labor will transform the traditional relationship between the company and its workforce.
At some point, these questions will arise. And better sooner than later.


You need to align freelancers with internal employees in order to reap the full benefits. Because there’s plenty of them…


Freelancers foster greater efficiency and cost savings

The process of aligning your current workforce with freelancers may seem long and cumbersome, but there are great benefits to doing it. Leaders who embrace these changes and respond effectively build more competitive organizations, according to Workmarket’s 2017 Workforce Productivity Report. This report finds that 83 percent of business leaders believe that external workers are more, or equally as productive as, their full-time counterparts.

In addition, the business leaders report that they experience greater efficiencies and cost savings, and that they can deliver specialized skills faster. They also report that they are able to offer greater specialization, access to new technology, and new solutions the company other couldn’t provide. They are able to seize new opportunities faster, by remaining flexible and nimble to changing market trends and conditions.


So, what are you doing to align freelancers with internal employees?


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