The Way We Work
June 14, 2010 by Tamara Rice

Summertime is here, and for a lot of providers that means a change in routine. As the buyer, this can be a challenging time to get your deadlines met and your expectations fulfilled.

Here are some tips for managing your providers this summer, so you can both keep the season productive and end up at the top of your game:

1. Ask your provider if their work schedule will look different now that it’s summertime. While your freelancer’s childcare issues aren’t necessarily your business, it can be helpful for you to know if things change for them this time of  year, when schools are generally closed. A lot of freelancers now have a houseful of children contending for their time and attention. What’s more, kids or no kids, most people vacation in the summer, so find out if your provider plans on going away at all or taking longer weekends.

2. Communicate your own summer plans, and make arrangements accordingly. If work needs to continue seamlessly during your own vacation this summer, your freelancer should probably know ahead of time when you will be unavailable to them for questions, etc. If possible, arrange for a point person in your office to communicate with the freelancer and be prepared to address anything that comes up while you are away.

3. Keep conference calls and “one-on-one” calls. It can be all to easy to miss these during summer months as trips, appointments and general busyness can keep us all running. Don’t give up on your meetings! Move call times, switch days, do whatever it takes to make sure you are still touching base with your freelancer(s) at regular intervals. Lack of communication can be deadly to productivity.

managing summer freelancer4. Be understanding, but assert yourself when the ball is getting dropped. If you can afford to cut your freelancer some slack during the summer, that’s great. However, if your freelancer’s less-than-stellar summer schedule is getting in the way of your project goals, you need to have an honest conversation. Go about it in a positive way by simply asking what you can do to get more of your freelancer’s time and get productivity back up. Discuss the possible benefits of hiring more help — i.e., adding on another freelancer — just for the summer. The idea of getting extra help will either be a relief to your provider or it will motivate them to give you what you need on their own.

Remember that summer — like every other season — will soon be over, and fall will take its place. Will you go into the fall feeling confident and on target with your project goals? Or will you be limping along under the burden of unmet expectations and crumbling buyer-provider communication? Make sure you and your freelancer aren’t just getting by over the next few months, but are getting ahead.

Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.