Outsourcing labor can be great for your business - if you do it right, that is.
There are many advantages to hiring virtual staffers - lower costs, an increase in productivity, access to top-notch talent, and so on. As with anything, though, hiring remotely is a process that requires a few adjustments for it to yield optimum results; You simply can’t apply the same strategies and principles you use in the office to your virtual staff.
If you’re new to the world of outsourcing remote labor, it’s natural to make a few mistakes as you calibrate your systems in the beginning. There’s definitely a learning curve to things, so don’t worry if you hit a couple of snags along the way.
However, there are some major pitfalls you need to avoid since these can derail your efforts to save time and money, and could even cause your business to fail in extreme cases. Here’s three of them:
Obviously, cost savings is one of the reasons why you probably went onboard with hiring remote workers, but while you can definitely save on office space and leasing expenses once you go down the telecommuting route, you shouldn’t necessarily hire the cheapest applicant or talent available.
In most cases, you get what you pay for. Freelancers typically base their rates on their skill levels and experience. The more skilled and experienced a remote worker is, the higher they’re likely to charge, but this usually pays off when they bring in more revenues and lower costs for your company.
Rather than zeroing in on how much a potential telecommuter will cost you, assess the kind of value they can add to your business instead. Review each proposal or CV and see which applicant can meet your specific requirements at a reasonable price. When you move on to interviews, it would also be wise to suss out which job candidate is likely to stay with your company as well.
Oh, and you can try to bargain for a cheaper rate too. Just don’t quote a figure that’s too far off from the remote worker’s rate, of course.
There’s so much talent to be found all over the world, and every single one of them comes from a country with customs and a culture that are as unique as they are.
Thus, businesses hiring telecommuters should make allowances for differences in communication styles (e.g., some nationalities might be more straightforward and/or open as opposed to being reserved and non-confrontational, etc.) and work pacing (e.g., some might work better at a more laid back pace while others might be more prompt). The key thing here is to keep an open mind, and to build a team culture that accepts and makes room for cultural individuality while still ensuring productivity among all its members.
Then there’s also the matter of time differences. It is especially important to lay down work schedules when your talents live halfway across the world. This way, you can manage everyone’s expectations about the best time to touch base and what each person is meant to accomplish every day even when a project manager or a similar superior isn’t on shift.
Well-defined schedules that overlap with everyone’s waking hours can also facilitate smoother communication channels, which brings us to…
If you thought effective communication was vital to the traditional workplace, it’s even more crucial in a remote one.
Without face-to-face interaction, it’s harder to determine a person’s mood or tone of voice, so just about everything is dependent on written communications. As an employer and/or project manager, you need to be very specific in giving instructions. It’s also advisable to encourage your offshore staff to contact you for clarifications should the need arise by giving them your contact details and responding to their messages as promptly as you can.
Lastly, providing regular feedback, such as what works for you and what doesn’t, helps your remote workers understand their roles better and equips them to give you better service, so be sure to check in with them frequently.
Taking on remote workers seems to involve quite a bit of effort, but that pales in comparison to the sort of benefits your business will reap once you’ve put in the work. And somewhere along the line, you may find yourself enjoying such workplace changes too.