Last year, over 60% of UK-based companies introduced remote work as a continual practice. With the new ongoing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the companies that were already outsourcing employees and allowing their staff to work from home are already one step ahead in this era of complete digitalization.
The importance of allowing remote work
Even aside from the new trends arising with social distancing and quarantine, the many benefits of working remotely, such as better time management, flexibility, and access to a larger pool of experts, have all made remote work a rising trend and preference amongst many employees (especially back-office workers). CEOs of big companies have also recognized the financial and practical benefits of hiring workers overseas, or simply not investing as much in office space but rather focusing on the quality of work.
We have spoken to entrepreneurs from three successful British companies, Marcus Evans from Nutbourne, Philippe Peron from Evolve-IT Consulting and Vinod Chakrapani from I-Guru to give us their personal experience of the remote work ethics and principles when it comes to outsourcing employees.
Why hire remote workers
One of the biggest reasons for outsourcing is mainly the challenge of finding talented, experienced and suitable experts in your nearby area. If you wish for your employees to work at a desk-based job in your office cubicle, then you must limit yourself to locals, which narrows your selection greatly. When opting for remote workers, you get to pick just about any expert in the field that has access to their own IT equipment at home.
About two years ago, we were looking to grow our business just like any other ambitious company. We realised we had to increase the capacity of our IT team, but searching for developers and appropriate talent in the Midlands felt fruitless. We decided it was time to expand the search and look beyond the UK. Soon, we reached out to India, Armenia, and Ukraine. We saw the results we were hoping for while building new bridges. – Peron
Some branches, like customer service, IT technicians, developers and other task-based workers are needed on-demand, and not during some fixed working hours.
We have had one support engineer working from home for the last year and a half. It was relatively easy to manage. – Evans
Remote workers are also more flexible with their time schedule. As they don’t have a traditional nine-to-five job, they can pick and choose when they need to devote themselves to personal issues and when it’s more convenient for them to do their job-related tasks.
Most of our staff are based in India. This allows them to be at home during Indian national holidays while the UK market is working. – Chakrapani
Benefits of having a remote workforce
One of the obviously bigger benefits of having your employees work from home is that there is no commute. Most companies don’t even have a fixed time schedule, work is deadline and task-based.
They’re saving travel time while the company gets extra productive time. – Chakrapani
Another checkmark on the list is that you don’t need to be under pressure of local competitors for the limited native talent pool.
We have access to talent overseas untapped by local staffing agencies and competition. You can attract a more fluid and diverse workforce rather than the enforced most-in-demand skill workers within your home country. – Peron
You also needn’t worry about office space as long as your employees have the opportunity to freelance. This both saves money on building unnecessary cubicles, but also while expanding your services to other areas of the country (or beyond).
One of the biggest benefits is cost of operation; having a smaller or no office. If we were to start growing, an office in larger cities such as London is a big expense. – Evans
Challenges of managing a remote team
CEOs of outsourcing companies have to give their employees some extra attention during the process of onboarding. Socialisation in a natural manner is not really achievable via online platforms.
Having lunch together, playing pool, or drinks after work really bond a team. When colleagues are shut in their houses, it can be tough for people who take the most out of their social interaction from work. – Evans
Cultural differences are also much more visible when your international employees are based in their home country.
For example, in the UK, many developers are rather talkative, while in Ukraine they talk less but listen more. On the other hand, remote teams imply a higher level of cultural diversity that any business can only win from. – Peron
It’s also hard to review the working process if you don’t have a CRM. Regular communication without pressuring your employees is something you need to master.
Most of our staff are mature and know their responsibilities. Meetings are done online. We have Skype chats. We have a centralized software with work reports submitted on a daily basis. It also records log-ins, break times and so on. – Chakrapani
How to find remote workers
Hiring likeable freelancers is a way to start off venturing into the waters of outsourcing employees, but as time goes on and your company grows – you will require a professional recruitment team who will evaluate new potential workers in the same fashion as regular job interviews and applications would have it.
We have our own recruitment team in Ukraine, which allows us to source pre-vetted talent faster. They have their own methodologies regarding headhunting, executive research, talent screening, and so on. They have their own databases of candidates from searching on job sites, social media vacancies, attending IT events and hackatons for hunting developers. – Peron
We use the same methods as we do for in-house; “Indeed” is a good recruitment site, and many people also apply via our website or through acquaintances. We also have a few key recruitment consultants who help us find people. – Evans
The humor in working from home
While the quality of work is not compensated in any sense when you have employees working from home, working in pyjamas, dogs barking in the background, and getting confused about time-zone differences is no longer something unusual.
I have once had a three-minute call with one of my colleagues’ kids who accidentally dialled me. – Evans
One time, our Indian team was supposed to start working for the Australian market at 4 AM, but many of our staff were either reporting late, or reporting on time and then falling asleep again. – Chakrapani
With the ongoing digitalization due to the pandemic, many UK companies were forced to allow remote work and turn to outsourcing. Many others already ventured into these waters even before social distancing. There are many benefits in terms of turning to remote working practices, such as cutting costs and accessing a larger talent pool. The price to pay for such commodities are the challenges of efficient digital monitoring and onboarding.
Successful entrepreneurs confirm that outsourcing is in no way harder or easier than having a physically-present team. It is simply different from what we were indoctrinated to believe having a job and a business should look like.