In the writing world, you’ll find a melting pot of professionals.
You have the causal freelancers who channel their passion for words in the evenings after the kids go to bed or on Sunday afternoons.
Then you have the full-time small business owners who hustle like crazy to reach goals and grow their careers.
Bringing the collaborations together are the employees of agencies, content creation platforms, publishers and any other outlet that sources writers.
As partnerships ebb and flow, routines materialize and we figure out the best ways to work together.
You learn that Bob in accounting loves to get invoices via email. Editor Sarah prefers to communicate via the commenting feature on Google Docs. And, your office companion Fluffy is happiest when you remember to take an afternoon break that includes snacks and a walk outside.
After a while, things fall into place.
But until you find a cadence that works for all members on your blended virtual and in-person team, the experience can be clunky.
Let’s Chat about Workflow, Collaboration and Deadlines
As you dive into a new project, or add a person to your team, be sure to identify how they work and when.
1. Define the Workflow
Employees in a traditional office setting, or with set remote-working hours online, know they can chat with one another during their assigned times on the clock.
When it comes to independent workers, the lines are blurry. Each person sets their own hours, which may or may not mirror others on the team.
At the onset of the collaboration, define your workflow expectations. It might be something as simple as assigning projects on Monday with Friday deadlines, then offering up what hours are best to discuss questions during the week.
When it comes to workflow, a little pre-planning goes a long way to keep everyone in the loop on availability and expectations.
2. Share Collaboration Documents
When working with someone who isn’t an employee, clear assignment summaries, editorial calendars and writer’s guidelines are must-haves. These documents provide a roadmap for the content creation process, including benchmarks and milestones that everyone on the team will meet.
Internal teams may have an expanded calendar that documents the full project, from ideation to completion, and the writing component may only be a small portion of the overall process. Share this with the writers so they too can understand the scope of the project and where they fit in, both in services required and timelines.
Non-employees create their own schedules, and knowing what’s coming up makes it much easier to plan tasks, especially when juggling multiple clients and projects.
3. Set Realistic Deadlines
With so many processes being automated, and time stamps dictating deadlines, it’s a good idea to have a human peek at computer-generated deadlines on occasion.
Often, I’ve received late-week projects with deadlines on Monday mornings. Not all writers work seven days a week. Sometimes we take weekends off. I’ve collaborated with employees who assume that freelance means working whenever, or more accurately, all the time. It doesn’t.
To stay creative, we need time off too.
The fix? Work together to find mutually feasible deadlines. Sometimes an extra day is all it takes to accommodate everyone on the team.
Do you have ideas about workflow, collaboration and deadlines that might be helpful for teams comprised of employees and independent contractors? Share your tips below.
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