If you want to get things done remotely than doing it in house, see how you can make the most of your remote talent.
It is quite easy to hire someone who has the right expertise for what you require and still be on the other side of the planet. I have been hiring many technical and copywriters on Elance and it is really working for me.
I can hire experts in areas who can help me convert my ideas into reality which has open up new areas for me to manage different content sites which I would not have been able to manage otherwise.
I know a lot of people are now looking for getting things done remotely than doing it in house.
The advancement of technology has made it all possible so someone sitting right on the other side of the globe can complete their assignments and deliver it to you and you can ensure timely delivery of work as well in a satisfactory manner.
With such benefits there are numerous challenges that are part and parcel of such technological development.
So let us look into what are the benefits and challenges of creating and managing remote teams.
You may be looking for expertise that may be unavailable in your locality but with the global workforce, you can hire such expertise now and it is such a big advantage.
With such a big advantage comes the biggest challenge of judging the right expertise. You can be bombarded with proposals for what you wish to get done and at times you have to be judging things based on just a business proposal.
With remote workforce you may even burn your fingers and you will come across people who may be great in meetings and letting you know he is an expert but not when in actual implementation.
At times, you may even feel like you are shooting in the dark but being persistent and trying, can help you hire the right person eventually.
2. Less overhead cost
It is always cost effective to hire someone who can work remotely.
Take this as an example
You found someone in your neighborhood to work from his home. It would be fairly cheap because if he is not using your office space and you save on office rent space because as he is working from home and using his own real estate space to deliver work for you. He is also working from his own internet connection that saves too.
So if you just found someone who is living nearby and is working from home is much cheaper than one who would work from your office.
Office space isn’t cheap and it costs a hell lot of money and time to build the infrastructure like furniture, electric equipments like ACs, internet access (is not cheap at least here in India).
Now imagine somebody living in a low cost of living area and can work from his home, it can reduce the cost considerably for sure.
However with the low cost price tag come issues of cheap quality as well. Once you are looking for remote team, you can be more focused on price tag as the only criteria to judge the proposal and this can be at times becomes the root cause of burning your fingers.
Even full-time employees with less salary expectations may not always be the right person for you and so is the case with remote team. Opt for experts.
You can hire someone in a time zone or for hours such that you can allocate extra time for a different project with your minimal interventions. You don’t need to be working with him but is there when he needs any help.
I hired a person for 3 hours per day from my 7PM to 10PM where he would do things as I instructed and can get in touch with me on Skype or phone if he needs anything urgent. I will just use my iPhone to clear doubts for him and had worked really well for me. He was working full-time somewhere but works for me 3 hours per day for an extra salary.
This can be one of benefit but you can also opt to build a team very easy to support for 24×7 support which would have been a dream few years back. A past client of mine had a support team that was geographically diversified and helped him provide support 24×7 for his membership site.
At times remote work can make you more productive. I have seen this happen to a lot of my clients where I used to work when they are sleeping and they used to work when I am not online. It would make things move really fast and make developers more productive as they could send me things needed and I can get it done for them before they are back to work.
I experienced similar things when hiring people from the US and UK. They may get the job done in one day but actually for me it is in no time. Assigned them a task in my late afternoon in India and often it is delivered the same day for them and for me it is available early in the morning next day. If it would have been given to an in house team, the deliverables would be available possibly end of the next day instead of early morning.
The biggest disadvantage to such working culture can be the way you may be allocating your work. If you allocate in your morning time when your remote team is sleeping and want things delivered the same day, it can be really tough.
The process that I follow is to allocate work to remote teams before they are getting started. The going off for the day team leaves the job such that the other team coming online can pick up where the other team left off.
Managing the allocation of work is the key ingredient to boost productivity levels.
Hire people you can trust. You should never hire someone who has trust issues.
I believe that it is very difficult to start trusting someone just from day one and so you should try small projects with them and move slowly to see how things pan out. Time is the best medicine to build trust.
So once you hired someone, trust him. Show your trust. Recently one of my writers had an issue with the content she posted. It looked like the content was copied and I pointed it out.
I said it is all ok and at times things like that can happen and just replace the article. She replaced it and we are still working together still.
There were similar issues with other writers as well and instead of replacing the article they started to argue and as expected we completed the allocated number of articles but did not continue further.
6. Start Immediately
If you are hiring someone full-time in India and if he is experienced personnel, he will at least need 1 month to join you. He will just have to resign at his current job and possibly serve a notice period with the current employer which is normally a month and then join your team.
Hiring remotely and you don’t need to worry about such issues. You can hire someone from the moment you think it is the right time to get started.
7. Communication and English
Good communication skill in English is a must when hiring remote teams because you will spend a lot of time with your team on chat and possibly use email as a primary source to exchange information.
A simple example of a non professional is I have seen people just don’t use “Reply To All” when replying to emails and it is so much annoying at times. Hiring people with good in communication skills is a must.
If you have any other language of communication among the hired people, it is all good but then I prefer to be hiring people who are at least good in English and avoid people who write SMS language in emails how r u? As long as such small thing in chat is fine but when writing emails, SMS language means a complete rejection.
If you are writing business emails, you should be using either a smart phone which is helpful in typing or you should be using a computer. You cannot just take a shortcut to writing less. It means you are just making it really hard for others to read.
Similarly if they don’t use Reply to All, I prefer to let them know once but if I have to repeatedly remind them then it becomes a clear rejection for me.
8. Self Motivation
I prefer to automate things that can be automated and always find a feasible solution that requires very less of my involvement.
So I prefer to hire people who are self motivated and prefer to provide all the freedom and resources needed to perform and few have done really well over time and I see that those who are self motivated perform really well when working from home.
Extremely motivated individuals with lofty goals and willingness to do well will take the freedom to perform well, where as laid back and lacking self-motivation just crumble when offered complete freedom. They always need to be instructed on what is needed from them.
9. Great employee may not be a great remote employee
You hired someone to work for you and as you are growing, you want to hire more people but are constrained in the work space. So one thing could be to make your more experienced employee to work from home but I have seen time and again that the productivity of such workers goes down dramatically.
I have seen this happen too often and with too many people to conclude that a great employee may not be a great remote employee. The only reason I can see when people start working at home and still get paid a fixed amount the productivity goes down. Pay them on per work basis or per hour basis and things will work fine.
The better choice in many such scenario was to hire new freelancers who are already working from home and ask your experienced staff to manage.
10. Monitoring the pay
In an office environment we can track attendance but in remote workforce, it is difficult to track. How long each person has worked, and what they have been working on.
I have been working for clients for a decade now and still I prefer to provide the same reporting hours that I would have done when I started and it is because I don’t want to be having any doubts in the mind of my clients about the hours I have worked.
I am not sure if some of my clients even look at hours I bill them but still I prefer to be sending the hours worked on a regular basis and the format they are used to.
I never doubt if they question about the hours because they have the right to find out. At times, you can lose on extra details as time goes by and it may not look you are over billing. If you are true to your hours and if you bill hours that you would like to pay for the task done, it will always be justified.
Sometimes I even reduce the amount of hours I actually worked for hours I bill. It happens when I may not be as productive as I should be and would love to be. Sometimes you can have lots of phone calls coming up in the middle of your billable hours or you can have fights among your kids and get distracted or you can have some guests come to your place for a coffee. If I think the work done in hours is not justifiable, I reduce the billable hours from actual hours I have worked. It really helps me to build trust of my clients and they know there is no chance of me billing wrong hours to them.
I prefer testing new freelancers with short-term work to see how they react to issues that I point out. How they communicate and how they manage to meet the deadlines they setup for their own task.
Further Reading …