Outsourcing work to emerging economies is not a new concept.
Most business owners would have at least heard about outsourcing (even if they haven’t put it into practice). Often though, preconceived notions about hiring remote staff will invoke images of crowded call centers (or other negative stereotypes like under-paid staff or poor working conditions), meaning that some people just aren’t interested in outsourcing.
On the other end of the scale, it’s not uncommon for companies to get burnt by rushing into a managed outsourcing arrangement with little or no experience working with remote staff. Just because you can hire 50 staff at $3 an hour doesn’t mean you should. On many occasions the systems that are required to setup a successful outsourcing operation aren’t in place (inadequate staff, cultural differences and poor management are common problems).
Time Doctor software helps to overcome some of these hurdles – this software makes managing a remote team much simpler than it otherwise could be… Using this unique time management and productivity software means that offshore workers or any of your existing workers who prefer to work from home, can more effective than your present workforce.
If you’re thinking about outsourcing parts of your daily business, or you’re simply looking for a new way to retain talented staff, then the following information will be useful to your business:
Increasingly, there’s a large pool of talented workers in the US and around the world that are looking to work from home. Generally, you can get highly talented freelancers at reasonable rates because they like working from home or, or they want the flexibility of working from any location.
Time Doctor allows for flexible working arrangements while also accurately tracking the amount of time someone is working and what they are working on. Because Time Doctor can guarantee that your staff are actually working – the people you hire can live (and work) anywhere there’s electricity and an internet connection.
The average wages for a programmer in New York or Silicon Valley are often twice as high as a programmer in say Springfield, Illinois.
And although there is wealth of great programming talent in Silicon Valley, the competition is fierce (with Google and practically every large Internet company based there). If you are able to hire from any location in the country or in fact from any country in the world you can often get someone just as talented who is much cheaper – usually (with a bit of time and effort) you can find people living in smaller centers with the same skills who will work at lower rates – the comparatively affordable costs of living, and the flexibility of working at home, means that it’s possible to find talented staff whose salary expectations are much more reasonable.
Recruiting remote staff (in your own country or abroad) is really no different to recruiting locally. All of the same hiring and firing principles apply.
In the US, Craigslist, Linkedin, Monster are good ways to advertise for people. Sometimes you can get better results from word of month, from advertising on Facebook or from advertising or relevant forums or industry specific web sites. For example if you are recruiting Java programmers, there are a number of Java forum web sites where you can advertise for free or for a small fee. This helps you to go direct to the place where your target employees are hanging out. You can do the same thing with Linked in.
Recruiting overseas in the Philippines, Russia, India etc is similar. You can use Facebook, Linked in or local job websites to recruit in all of these places. For example to recruit in the Philippines you can use: http://www.gopinoy.com, http://www.bestjobs.ph – in Romania, there are English language job websites like http://www.bestjobs.ro. In general it’s not hard to find popular job sites any country and posting a job add is usually $50 to $100.
In other developed countries you will find sites like http://www.gumtree.com.au (Australia) where you can advertise jobs for free (or find people looking for work). Similarly, in the U.K. Where the job market is tight you can find highly skilled travelers who might be interested in any sort of work (try the jobs section in http://www.tntmagazine.com/).
If you are looking for a short term or contract role, Upwork (formerly oDesk) provides another alternative (you can still use Time Doctor to manage staff hired in combination with any outsourcing portal). Upwork can be used to organize a trial period where both parties are protected.
Along with a catchy job description, you can generally ask people to nominate an hourly rate which you can haggle over later. Remember to let them know about Time Doctor when you advertise and explain that its use will be a requirement for any position within your company.
When hiring a remote worker you need to assess a candidates skills without a major commitment on their or your part (a C.V. Is not a enough to go by). One of the best ways to do that is to develop a simple online test that will evaluate the exact skills that you need in the role.
If you are looking for a support person, give them some hypothetical support questions and find out what answers they would respond with. A test that you can email to potential applicants is a fast way to evaluate candidates as you don’t need to spend a whole lot of time doing in person or phone interviews.
Once you have a short-list, a Skype video call is an effective way to do a final interview before offering a trial position to someone.
Usually it’s better to hire a remote worker in a part-time role (with a view to full time work if that’s what is required). This will give you time to adjust working with a new team member and also give them time to try working under a new working environment (especially if they haven’t done this sort of work before). Working from home isn’t for everyone!
Providing casual work at the outset also means that a person who is already gainfully employed can try something new – if both parties are happy with the results after a few weeks, the worker will be more confident about leaving an existing job to start full time (and flexible work) for your company.
Once you’ve found your potential candidates you can invite them to use Time Doctor as a way to track time spent on particular tasks. This software will also send you a daily report outlining which each person has worked on and can even let you know which websites your staff member has viewed, how much time they have spent using different applications and also how much time they have spent on breaks.
If you don’t have an account yet, you can create one at https://www.timedoctor.com – adding new staff is a breeze. Once they have Time Doctor installed, there are a number of features such as a report of web sites visited during work hours, that help you to guarantee that your worker is actually working and not stuffing around on Facebook or reading a newspaper. To find out more about how this works, please take 5 minutes to view our product tour:
There are a number of simple solutions for paying people.
One of the easiest is to use an Ikobo card. Using this method a person will receive a debit card and you simply send the money from your bank account or credit card to their debit card. This method is better for lower amounts of money.
You can also use a wire transfer, Paypal, Moneybookers or Western Union money transfers.
If this article gives you the impression that hiring people in a foreign country is easy, it’s not. You will likely go through a lot of pain and hassle to achieve the end result. For example we recently were looking for a programmer for Time Doctor and we literally spent months and had someone working full time just to find the right person, testing dozens of people. If you don’t already have the internal resources to do it yourself you probably need help. For many businesses the best solution is a turn key solution to do everything for you, recruiting, managing, payroll etc. Although you can find people and hire from Upwork, these are NOT turnkey solutions as you still need to do the recruitment yourself and they will not handle HR issues such as making sure the person turns up to work each day. We recommend Remote Staff, for this type of turnkey solution.
If you have any further questions about outsourcing, please send us an email – we’d be happy to answer your questions.
Footnote from the Author (Proof that it works)
There are 45 + staff in our extended company – 95% (or more) of these people work from home in different parts of the world.
I’ve just finished editing and rewriting this article from a draft I received in my inbox – it’s taken me just over an hour. Later today this will be included in a report for our CEO who is in a different country. When I check my email tomorrow I’ll also receive a consolidated daily report for the 10-15 people I manage (in Canada, the Ukraine and the Philippines). In a few minutes, I’ll quickly check online to see who is working on what and how much time they’ve spent on different tasks.
I have six years of IT and project management experience. I’ve been using Time Doctor to calculate my billable hours for the last year while traveling, working from home in Australia and now from a new office. I really enjoy being able to work from anywhere in the world at any time of the day – Time Doctor really is a fantastic solution and I’m proud to be part of the project.
– John McCann, Newcastle Australia
Carlo Borja is the Head of Online Marketing for Time Doctor, a time tracking software for remote teams. He is a full-time telecommuter, a digital nomad and a coffee junkie.