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Thread: Hiring and Managing Remote Employees

  1. #1

    Default Hiring and Managing Remote Employees

    Do you have remote employees in your business? Or are you totally running on a remote team?

    Quoting this article on hiring and managing remote employees:
    Weíve built our business on the back of hiring remote workers. Itís allowed us to hire world class talent. Itís allowed to hire a diverse group of people.

    By overcoming the challenges that we face with our remote team, we have been able to grow much faster than if we simply hired people within our geographical area.

    How is your remote team doing? How are you hiring and managing them?

  2. #2
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    My team is just me so no working with remote employees here. However, I think it's a great idea. For some businesses employees need to be in a specific location, but more and more work can be done anywhere. If you're willing to hire remote employees, you get to draw from a much greater talent pool. If everyone works remote some of your expenses go away like the need for office space. You can hire around the world and be open 24 hours a day.

    I think we'll see more and more businesses where everyone works where they want.

    As far as hiring goes I think you want to start by getting to know other people in your industry and learning where people look for work online. You might start by hiring a freelancer for a project and assume things go well hire that same personifier other projects and see if they want to become an employee. Whether it works or not, you can try again with another person.

    I don't think you need to manage remote works hour by hour. Think more in terms of specific projects. As long as the person gets the work you need done in time, I wouldn't worry about managing how and when they work. Part of why people work remotely is so they have more freedom over how they work. Trying to manage that isn't going to go over well. Give remote workers the freedom to manage themselves as long as they get the work done. If they don't get the work done, find another present give the work to.
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by vangogh View Post
    I think we'll see more and more businesses where everyone works where they want.
    I definitely agree with this one. The future of work could most likely be where the majority could work remotely.

    It's interesting to also see how the industry is growing at such a rapid rate.

    Re: managing, you are absolutely right. We need to think more in terms of productivity rather than just hours worked. As long as the work gets done (and in an efficient way), that remote worker is definitely worth keeping.

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    I think remote workers have the best chance of success when you have the smallest separation in time zones. I've seen so many projects that outsourced to a "team in India", only to fail miserably because it was too difficult (and inconvenient) to do effective project management over a group of people whose work hours are completely outside the manager's normal hours. You aren't "saving money" just because the team supposedly costs less if the project takes twice as long because it stalls every time someone on the team has a question that has to wait 12 or more hours to get an answer. So make sure you define "remote" in a way that you can effectively manage.
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  5. #5

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    I have a friend who outsources to India with success. He's been at it for years though and has built a pretty good list of contacts.

    For certain tasks such as sales an east coast / west coast could be beneficial. You cover the work hours on both coasts.

    I have a partner who is about an hour and a half away from me. That works out well. We talk every day but see each other about once a year.

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    I don't have a need to hire anyone, but I frequently work with spread out teams where I'm the project manager, or I'm the sub contractor. Everything runs well. No issues because everyone has a specific task to complete, but are still independent businesses.

    The key is that someone has to be in charge and that person has to be organized and capable.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold Mansfield View Post
    The key is that someone has to be in charge and that person has to be organized and capable.
    This is important. I believe the issue of time zone difference can be handled by:

    1. Having someone take charge and be responsible of looking after what needs to be done.
    2. A proper system of reporting and syncing of tasks. Even though the difference could be 12 hours, the teams/workers can still agree on certain times of the day (or week) to meet virtually to give updates and raise concerns.

  8. #8

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    For the hours issue with offshoring, many firms in India, Pakistan, and that area will actually work on American time, which does make it a bit easier. But you still have the cultural and language barriers to get over.

    I do almost all of my work remotely, and I've had roles ranging from developer to project manager to product owner.

    One issue I've seen some businesses have with remote workers is a desire to monitor everything like they do in an office. They want their remote workers to install things like TeamViewer so they can see that the person is actually working. To me, that defeats one of the primary benefits of remote working - the ability for the worker to get things done at a time when they are most efficient. Sure, they definitely need to be reachable during normal business hours, but some people are much more efficient at completing tasks at 2AM than they are at 2PM. When I have someone working remotely for me, I don't care when they get it done as long as it gets done by the deadline and as long as I can reach them when I need them. (For me, my typical day looks like this 5AM wakeup, 6AM workout, 7AM breakfast/CNBC, 8AM-12:30PM business, 12:30PM-1PM nap, 1PM-3PM business, 3PM-6PM actual work, 6PM-9PM time with wife, 9PM-11PM actual work, 11PM-1AM wind down. However, I know from experience that my most efficient schedule is 12PM-8AM, but too many important calls come in before noon.)

    Another thing to keep in mind when working with remote workers is the additional regulations that you're subject to. For example, if they are employees, there are tax issues. If they are overseas, then there are certain things you can't or at least shouldn't export (for example, web developers shouldn't export personally identifiable information).

    Communication is extremely important. I've seen some teams that work entirely on Skype, including some customer service staff for a very large computer manufacturer. Most of the web people I work with are familiar with IRC, so that's where 95% of my real-time communication takes place, but I've also used Slack and Hipchat for that purpose.

    Documentation should be centrally accessible, preferably with the ability for people to directly contribute their own input. I know of one company where the unofficial metric is "if you haven't created a Google doc today, you didn't get enough done". Wikis are great.

    People also shouldn't be silo'd. (Even in a co-located environment, they shouldn't be, but I think it's a bigger deal for remotes.) While it might seem at first a good idea to have a central point of contact and limited direct contact between remotes, that quickly becomes a bottleneck. Remotes are frustrated because communication is taking too long, and the central point of contact is frustrated because they are hitting the forward button or copy/pasting emails all day. Think about in an office environment - Person A knows that Person B has experience with Task X, so they walk down the hall and ask for pointers. In a remote setting, this might be through instant messaging or email, but just make sure that it's somewhere that the conversations are able to be saved for future reference (such as a chat application that offers logging or CCing the project manager on all emails). Ideally, communication should take place where all can participate and not through private one-on-one messages because someone else might be able to offer something to the conversation.
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  9. #9

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    You only get 4 hours of sleep everyday, Brian?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by carloborja View Post
    You only get 4 hours of sleep everyday, Brian?
    4, sometimes 5 of continuous night sleep, then a half-hour siesta early afternoon. My body works pretty naturally on that form of polyphasic sleep. Sometimes I'll do 2.5 or 3 hours of sleep at night and then take a long 90-minute afternoon siesta.

    24 hours up and 6 hours down works extremely well for me, but that doesn't work so well when one must also interact with society.
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