This is an inside look at what it is like to work in a completely remote team. Many companies would not even consider it as a possibility. They can’t imagine working with someone who doesn’t come into their office. But when you open your mind, you see the possibilities in hiring a remote team are fantastic. The availability of talent is amazing as you are open to recruiting from the entire world, instead of just your local area.
I’ve been working with teams in 9 different countries for many years now and have a good sense for what works and what doesn’t work with remote staffing.
Are they really working?
When you work in the same office you kind of know (in a general sense) what is going on. You know that John came into the office today and worked at his computer. If you’re working with someone on the other side of the world you really don’t know what is actually going on. Are they chatting with friends? Are they on Facebook all day?
With Staff.com we have a couple of ways to get a feeling for what people are doing. We use Time Doctor software to track time through the day. You can see exactly how many hours were worked. When the person goes on a break the software automatically puts the worker on a break. This makes sure that time tracked is reliable. You will get a report of web sites visited each week and you can review screenshots of the person’s computer screen. This is software that workers can turn off at any time, but if they turn it off they don’t get paid!
A major issue that you will deal with is cultural differences. In the Philippines workers are very respectful of authority. Actually you will notice that, when addressing to their boss a lot of Filipinos will say “Sir”, which in my opinion is a bit antiquated and needs to change. Also, Filipino staff often will not speak out or disagree with you or make their opinions heard. It’s important to encourage your team to voice their own ideas and even to disagree with you at times.
Keeping a sense of team
When you’re not working in the same office one of the things that you miss is a sense that you are part of a team. You can build this remotely also. In our team the developers all call each other “mate” and joke with each other on Skype. We have a team chat window open constantly on Skype. This can be a little distracting but it’s important so that people are in constant communication and that they feel like they are part of a team.
Spending the time to train your workers
When you’re in an office you tend to spend the time to sit down with new team members and tell them what they need to do. It’s really difficult joining a new team. Even more so when you’re on the other side of the world and have never met in person. It’s critical to spend at least the same amount of time training your remote working team as you would training a local team.
In the end the benefits of working with a remote team far outweigh the difficulties. It might take some time to adjust but it’s definitely worth the effort.
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