If you are a business owner who will be turning to an online service provider to assist with your business, you’re not alone.
Online service providers represent a growing percentage of the workforce and specialize in tech support and strategy, funnel set up, customer service, web/graphic design, social media management, general office support, and the list goes on and on.
Unlike traditional employees, online service providers are usually independent contractors. In a nutshell, that means they are responsible for paying their own taxes (no payroll taxes for you), utilize their own space and equipment, pay their own workplace expenses, and set their own hours (the latter is usually based on mutual agreement with their client).
Unlike payroll employees, terms of employment are based upon their contract in addition to mutual agreement between you and the contractor.
You can choose to have an online service provider join your team for a long-term role or a project-specific role – it really depends on your need.
Adding an online service provider to your team is different from traditional hiring but will save your business thousands of dollars on payroll taxes, overhead costs, office space, and training.
Here is what you can expect when hiring an online service provider:
Unlike the traditional workplace where hiring was a face-to-face process, hiring an online service provider will be done virtually.
Whether you choose to hire them yourself or have a recruiter take care of it, each step is done virtually: screening, interviewing, and hiring/onboarding.
Depending on the service you’re looking for, your applicant pool may be large, so screening applicants through a Google forms survey/application will help you narrow the field.
The beauty of Google Forms is you can customize it to suit your needs and priorities.
Screening applicants for experience, software expertise, location (if there is a preference), and other factors important to you will give you a pool of qualified candidates.
Qualified candidates will typically present a proposal, outlining time to completion for one-time projects, along with their rates and other pertinent information to help you in making a hiring decision.
Once you’ve narrowed the field, it’s time for the interview.
Online meeting platforms such as Zoom, UberConference, and Google Meet have replaced traditional face-to-face interviews and have become the norm for interviews. These platforms generate invitations, along with a link to the meeting itself.
Congratulations! You’ve found the perfect candidate for the role.
Since your online service provider is an independent contractor, you will need to send an IRS W9 form for them to complete.
The online service provider will typically present their contract for you to sign and return. The agreement clearly outlines scope of service, fees, office hours, equipment/software, and other essential clauses.
Forms can be uploaded, sent, signed, and returned through secure document exchange portals such as DocuSign or HelloSign. Most online service providers already have their document portals in place and may use that unless you have a strong preference for another product.
Online service providers have the training on the software and equipment required to complete projects and tasks. While there will always be a learning curve when adding to your team, your online service provider already has the skills your team needs and can begin working quickly.
Be sure to either be available for questions or have a designated teammate available for any question they may have.
Unlike a traditional W2 employee, who was on-site and easily reached by phone, an online service provider will typically outline office hours in their contract and their turn-around time for communications.
When evaluating online service providers, be sure to ask about their communications policy, so it’s a good fit for your business.
Real-time communication typically occurs via messaging platforms such as Slack,WhatsApp, or Asana, which has both project management and communications features. The use of a specific messaging platform is usually agreed upon in advance.
Online service providers are a whiz at project management. Work is typically exchanged through platforms such as Google Drive (Google Workspace), with links to completed items posted in Asana, Slack, or Trello.
Competed items are checked off within the software and routed to a designated person for review and follow-up.
If you are a business owner who is ready and willing to delegate, is tech-savvy, and can relinquish control, hiring an online service provider is an excellent option for adding to your team.
Although the recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and work processes are entirely virtual, online service providers are an excellent addition to work teams who are part of the digital workspace.
Online service providers represent payroll cost savings, overhead savings, and office space and equipment savings.
If you plan on expanding your team, hiring an online service provider is a worthwhile business investment that will reap dividends.
Written by: Holly Tillman