What Is a Chief Freelance Officer and Do I Need One in My Workplace?
In today’s gig economy, we are seeing more workers than ever who are considered self-employed or independent contract workers*. For many established businesses, these freelancers provide a relatively less-expensive and more flexible alternative to traditional employees. But as firms become more dependent on these non-employees to complete mission-critical projects, and without the workers being a regular part of office logistics, it can be difficult to manage them. This is where having a position within your company of Chief Freelance Officer may be helpful. So, what is this position and how can it help?
Just as companies may have a chief executive officer who oversees a company’s business and a chief financial officer who may handle finances, a chief freelancer officer is a person designated to manage relationships with independent and contract workers. While every business obviously has different needs, the basic tasks for a chief freelance officer may include:
Interviewing and hiring – The chief freelance officer (CFO) could be a person who conducts or oversees all interviews for contract positions. This would require skills in interviewing people in circumstances other than face-to-face meetings, such as via Skype. The CFO must also know how to assess a freelancer’s portfolio and assess their compatibility with the company’s existing mission and culture. It would also be imperative that the person have a strong understanding of Equal Employment laws, even if hiring independent contractors, some states provide that equal employment laws apply to applicants – and independent contractors.
Contract Negotiations – While many states provide laws for employees without a contract to be hired “at-will,” that is usually not the case with freelancers. In these relationships, you usually see a formal written agreement spelling out key terms like duty assignments, compensation, legal ownership over the freelancer’s work, and non-disclosure provisions. A qualified CFO should be skilled to negotiate and manage those contracts.
Onboarding – Traditionally, many businesses keep all of their employees together in a central location. Freelancers, however, may often work remotely from home or locations far outside the company’s home base. This poses a particular challenge when it comes to onboarding freelancers. A CFO needs to have a clear plan for integrating new freelancers into a project. This includes not only making sure the freelancer is able to properly connect with the company’s existing IT infrastructure, but also answering any questions the contractor has regarding the overall project or mission.
Does a Chief Freelance Officer Make Sense for My Business?
Of course, not every business needs a chief freelance officer. If your business only uses one or two contract workers on occasion, you may decide to funnel resources elsewhere than with a dedicated freelance manager. But if you rely on freelancers to complete entire projects or run entire departments (such as IT), then you may realize the benefits of having an experienced chief freelance officer on your executive team. If you have any questions about independent contractors in the workplace, you should contact an experienced employment law attorney today.
*Though, in some states more than others, independent contractors are often employees who are misclassified.