Nothing makes me want to flee like a request to come and work in a client’s office. I love working remotely, and being on my own, neutral territory gives me both the flexibility to work the (sometimes unorthodox) hours that work for me, and the freedom to prioritise the jobs on my slate.
But it’s challenging if clients aren’t used to working with someone who’s offsite. So I thought I’d provide some guidelines.
1. Make sure you brief them properly. Remember that remote workers aren’t privy to the conversations you’ve had in-house with colleagues about various issues. A bit of history and context can help them to understand the big picture.
2. If you’re subcontracting them to work on a project with you, introduce them to the client, and give them some background on who the key people are they’ll be working with. It doesn’t have to be in person – an email is fine – but make sure they know that Person X will be responsible for helping with this part of the project, and Person Y will be responsible for that part, for example.
3. Also make sure they know what the internal hierarchy is at your firm. Who do they report to? Who fits in where? And who should they take briefs from? Who is not authorised to brief them?
4. Think before you allocate them an in-house email address, or sign them up to the company’s project management software. Often all that does is create noise. If there is genuinely crucial information on that platform, and they need access to it, then sure – by all means, sign them up. But at the very least discuss it with them first. I, for example, prefer to have everything come to my central email address – having a separate company email for a project just complicates things. And if you have multiple clients and multiple company email addresses, it’s very confusing.
5. Be available – especially if you are asking them to deliver to tight deadlines. There’s nothing more frustrating than having impossible demands thrown at you, and then being ghosted when you ask for clarification or help. If you can’t be available, then deputise someone on your team to answer any queries.
Finally, it should go without saying that you need to agree on payment terms. Most remote workers are freelancers, and their invoice is their salary, so be reasonable, ensure they agree to the payment arrangements, and then ensure you pay them on time.