These days, more companies than ever are choosing to utilize the skills of a flexible workforce; that is, a team of colleagues comprising freelancers, external contractors, independent workers, temps, and part-time staff members, alongside those who hold full-time, permanent contracts. This option offers diversity in the workplace, and team members who are experienced and highly skilled in their field.
Freelance workers and independent contractors are a popular choice for many companies as they offer flexibility, knowledge, and expertise that full-time staff members often won’t possess. A flexible workforce also tends to be more cost-effective, enabling managers to lower their office expenses and use funds elsewhere. Despite the advantages, a flexible workforce can also bring about a loss of cohesion in the office; how can staff members remain motivated if they seldom feel a part of the same team?
Encountering issues with creating team cohesion in a flexible workforce
While creating a flexible workforce can be a great way of introducing new ideas and practices into the office environment, it can also be problematic. Meetings and conferences are a key part of working life, allowing ideas to be shared and issues to be discussed. Face-to-face chats are often the most productive, but these become increasingly difficult to organize when a workforce is very rarely in the same room at the same time. Training is also absolutely vital, ensuring that staff members are kept up to date and on track; team cohesion is lost when a workforce is seldom able to convene at the same training sessions.
Camaraderie is important, enabling staff members to build relationships with their colleagues and flourish in the professional environment. Workers can end up demoralized if they’re unable to establish working friendships. Freelancers and independent workers may feel isolated from office activities and, away from the main working environment, will be more likely to lose focus on the task at hand.
Creating team cohesion in the workplace
Firstly, managers should be up front about what is expected and when; deadlines must be set and managed in a way that everybody understands. It is a great idea for companies to launch software that enables freelancers and contractors to access everything remotely. Cloud platforms are increasingly popular in business, and create an online community of workers who can be contacted quickly and easily, as well as making the access to ideas seamless. Career development should be offered wherever possible, enabling freelance and part-time workers to progress in their chosen field, while umbrella companies can make administration issues, as well as contractor pay, far easier to manage.
It can be a good idea for managers to provide team building activities and social events for their workforce to enjoy. Sports days, outdoor pursuit weekends, and challenge-based activities can encourage members of every department to work alongside each other, and allow people who wouldn’t normally come into contact with each other to bond.
These days, independent workers, freelancers, and contractors make up a large percentage of the US workforce and, while there are numerous benefits to the flexibility they offer, there can be interruptions to daily working life and team cohesion. However, with improved communication and strict rules in place, it is perfectly possible for a flexible workforce to prosper.