As obvious as it might sound, managing outsourced professionals is not the same as having someone in-house who you can see every day. It requires a different, more flexible type of management as it completely shifts the office dynamic you might be used to.
My objective with this post is to shine a light on the implications of IT outsourcing on a company — specifically in management and team dynamics — and some tips as to how to manage remote professionals.
It is my opinion that remote professionals should have a set roadmap to follow and must hit the ground running relatively quickly. In order for them to do so, the manager of said professional should take some time to draw out a specific plan on how this will be accomplished.
Some things to include:
Again, it might seem obvious to some, but this is one of the most overlooked steps when onboarding remote talent that can slow things down the first couple of weeks.
One of the drawbacks of not being able to explain face-to-face certain things is that it often leaves room for misinterpretation. With your in-house team, it’s easy to call them out and show them your screen for them to understand what you wanted to communicate.
With remote professionals, you have to employ a deeper level of specificity about what you’re looking for both verbally and non-verbally. Things that might seem obvious to you or that seem like overkill are sometimes the ones that are misinterpreted or not interpreted at all.
Remember, they have different ways of understanding information, so by being detailed and specific as to what your objective is, what process they should follow and what the result expected is, nothing should fall through the cracks.
This is paramount! Measuring success is one of the cornerstones of continuous progress in my opinion, and there are so many ways to do this — KPI’s, OKR’s, output performance indicators, process performance indicators, amongst others. One thing is for sure, whatever style your company uses you must sit down — virtually that is — and have a conversation about how performance will be measured to set some realistic metrics based on how comfortable they feel. In the beginning give them a little wiggle room as they get used to the culture, processes and your business, but be very clear that they will ramp up as time progresses. Strive for monthly and quarterly quantifiable metrics to measure.
Some metrics for developers to keep in mind:
Staying in touch with your developer throughout the week, month and quarter will prove to be very important. The future of work lies in being able to do it from any place in the world, but to be able to do so we must adopt tools that allow us to virtually be with our teammates whenever they need us.
Of course, Slack and your favorite conference tool — ours is Uberconference — will be your best friends here. Make sure to set a pace for calls and be sure to be very explicit about the times where they must be available via chat.
One practice that we’ve seen work is having daily standups, they can be via conference or even by using a tool like Standuply can help, but having the ritual of doing so will bring wonders for your team.
Finally, some managers sometimes feel that because they are not seeing their employee work or have not heard from them in a couple of hours means that they are off to surf for the rest of the day. To keep these feelings from emerging you can use a tool like Trello or Jira and employ an Agile Framework like Scrum to see what they are working on and the status of it.
If this is an extension of your team, it is important to create that bond between those who are working remotely and those who are in-house. I’d recommend having a retreat or a flying the remote worker every 6 months to foster culture, bonding and get them excited! It will create better work experience and will make the remote teammate truly feel like part of the team. CodersLink’s service includes a visit from the remote professional to your city of choice every 6 months, dealing with all the details of the trip! From booking, documentation check and of course, paying for it! Involve them in team culture dynamics — pajama Friday’s if you will.
This is one of the things that is completely up to you. The fact that they work remotely means that it is their responsibility to find a quiet place to concentrate and tackle some tasks. If you’re ok with them freely roaming the coffee shop or library of their choice, be sure to communicate one rule — if there is a video conference scheduled they must be in a quiet place with no distractions and no unnecessary noise. We don’t want the barista to know that we have a nasty bug in our newest release!
Alternatively, you can have them work from coworking space for them to have a dedicated space to get stuff done. More and more cities in countries like Mexico have seen the rise of the coworking spaces, and even in the biggest cities like Mexico City, coworking giants like WeWork have established themselves. So if you want to pamper your remote professional, be sure to enroll them in one of these coworking spaces!
Outsourcing a company function requires some previous thinking and execution. It is not difficult to deal with, you only need to plan ahead so that there are no surprises when working with outsourced professionals and you can reach your goals. Setting a clear roadmap of what they will be working on is paramount to ensure the completion of tasks. Making absolutely clear of your expectations, how you’ll measure results and their role in the company will provide absolute transparency in both parties. Finally, thinking about equipment, work setting, and communication styles will save you headaches and questions whenever onboarding.