How to transition from full-time to freelance
When analyzing freelance trends, we found that companies are now embracing freelancers as true members of their teams. They’re providing them with the same level of transparency and tools they do with full-time employees. They’re sharing insights into the inner workings and numbers behind the business.
We’ll continue to see more distributed teams, more freelancers and companies working closely together, and more people ditching their corporate jobs to start their own freelance business.
We’ve seen these trends unfold in our own community with several – if not most – of our Peeps transitioning from full-time to freelance. One of our own team members – Shannon Byrne who has been all things content for us – also recently transitioned into a freelance role with us.
The transition was smooth, openly discussed, and we learned a lot through the process. In the spirit of transparency, we’re sharing the steps we took for a seamless transition.
1) Define what the full-time to freelance role will look like together
Once we began talking about the transition, we mapped out together exactly what Shannon was responsible for and the impact each activity had. We decided on what she should keep ownership of as a freelancer, what should be passed over to other team members and what should could be discontinued or put on hold.
The exercise resulted in a clearly defined scope of work with approximate hours budgeted for each activity. We created a job on the CloudPeeps platform so she can continue to use the product and stay on the same payroll system. Because Shannon is still a member of our team, she’s been there to help with transitioning other activities to fellow team members.
2) Share the new scope with the rest of the team
It can be a bit confusing to have a team member transition from full-time to freelance. Clearly communicate the transition to the entire team so they understand what you (the freelancer) are responsible for and what you’re not.
Let them know that you’re still there to chat around the digital water cooler – you won’t charge them for that. 😉 As a freelancer, it’s important to feel like you’re a part of the team.
3) Maintain and streamline communication
How a company communicates and manages its workflow is going to differ from client to client. Since Shannon already had a CloudPeeps email address and access to our Slack – and uses both every day – it made sense to keep it that way.
For freelancers, we curate access to relevant channels in Slack. For example, our #operations channel in Slack is for administrative topics relevant for full-time employees so we limit it to them. Since her role involves writing about a variety of company updates, we kept her on all relevant channels beyond just #content and #community. That way, she can quickly gather the information she needs – or we can ping her if something relevant comes up – without having to schedule any extra meetings.
We also streamlined our call schedule. We’re working with a handful Peeps now that it became effective to have a monthly team call to get everyone on the same page, set direction and share what we’re all are working on. We also still have our weekly call with the full-time team to go over goals and activities for the week.
No matter what communication channel works best for you and your client, it’s important to be plugged into the rest of the team to feel included and motivated. Timely and frequent communications also lend to getting tasks and projects completed quickly.
4) Create a process to get things done
We manage all of our non-tech projects and tasks in Asana. As a distributed team, this allows for all of us to know what each other is working on at any given time, beyond our monthly calls.
Shannon and I have a specific process in place that involves a weekly content sync call to remove any roadblocks and set the agenda for the week. From there, we communicate via Asana when tasks are complete or need feedback, etc. This is similar to our process when she was full-time with us, but a bit more light-weight as a freelancer.
Having a process as a freelancer will limit the chances of going over budget or doing work out of your scope. Combine a streamlined process with a thought-out communications plan and you and your team are on your way to a successful relationship.
5) Discuss ownership and logistics
This step won’t be relevant to every situation, but likely common among startups. It’s important for key employees to have a stake in the company — for them to be invested, especially in the early days. That’s why we have offered each of our earliest employees stock options in the company, including Shannon.
Typically, in most startup stock option agreements, only W2 employees can vest stock. Stock is usually vested over four years with a one-year cliff. As Shannon had already worked with us for eight months and will continue to as a freelancer, we thought it fair that she would be still entitled to stock. With a little bit of legal help, we made it happen.
With stake in the company as a freelancer, she still has ownership in her role. She’s invested in seeing the company succeed. Not that she wouldn’t have been otherwise but making the relationship official adds a layer of trust and depth on both sides. She believes in CloudPeeps and wants to continue to be a part of what we’re building.
As you transition into freelance, have an open-ended conversation with your employer. Discuss the work you’ve done and accomplishments achieved. Map out the role ahead of you and how you’ll continue to impact the company’s bottom line and support its success. Having a stake in a company will further the chances of a lasting, successful relationship.
The new role of the freelancer within teams
This transition is a testament to the new role freelancers have within teams. Work is changing – the where, when and how has transformed. As a result, how we see different classification of employees needs to too.
Freelancers don’t just work for a company, they become an advocate and ambassador for their clients. Increasingly, companies are seeing this and treating freelancers like members of their teams. They’re improving communication with them and in some instances even offering them benefits.
At CloudPeeps, we believe in a future where people can have the freedom to work the way they want, wherever they are. We are championing freelancers to become respected equals, and are excited about the progress.
Have questions about any of the steps above? We’re happy to go into more detail in the comments below!
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