Does Working with People on the Other Side of the World Really Work?

 

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.

Working with people on the other side of the world

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!

 
Cultural issues

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.

 
About the Author:

Rob Rawson is a co-founder of Staff.com, a global recruitment platform where you can access very talented staff at affordable rates. They also have a technology called Time Doctor which is software to improve productivity and help keep track and know what your team is working on, even when working from home.

Rob resides in Sydney, Australia but can also be found in major cities around the globe, like Paris, Kiev or San Francisco.

Find Rob on Google Plus

 

6 Comments

  1. Zorge says:

    Is it possible to get a report daily? Because to know what the worker did during the whole week in the end of the week is too late, it is big time loss for entrepreneurs.

  2. Zorge says:

    How does TimeDoctor identify that the worker is on break? In what circumstances is it considered to be on break? Is it when the mouse and keyboard of the worker doesn’t do any activity?

    • admin says:

      The person is put on a break when they do not have activity on the keyboard or mouse, but they then can select that they were working in an office an environment (there are settings to allow or disallow this)

  3. Oliver E. Escolastic says:

    I really would like to be a remote staff because of the convenience of working at home, but I don't have any work experience yet in the BPO industry. I guess I'll have to invest my time in working in a call center company here in the Philippines to gain experience, and then I'll try to apply here. Hoping to work with you guys soon.

    • admin says:

      Hi Oliver, the BPO industry is helpful experience although the most in demand skills are different programming skills, accounting, legal, search engine optimization, link building and others. Some of these you need a degree for, however others you can learn yourself for example link building is a very in demand skill, but there is no degree for this skill it is something you can learn from studying yourself on the Internet.


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