As a bootstrap, I have three main things that seem to work since venturing into offering our own SaaS and working 100% with remote employees.
Let’s imagine an office going virtual and what challenges that might present. Aside from countless other details, these are the three most important things I learned.
The hiring process can be very painful and costly
This is absolutely, hands down, the most time consuming and potentially costly part of hiring remote employees.
When we hired people to work in our brick and mortar ISP business, we could get to know them fairly quickly. We got to see how they worked, if they were focused or constantly distracted, on time and if they could actually do the job.
Like hiring at an office, most have amazing sounding resumes but other than some text and some video conferencing time, it takes a lot longer to figure people out when remote.
In my own experience, I initially went through a lot of people for each job to find one that could actually do the work so wasted a lot of money until I found ways to tackle this problem.
Training period / tasks
The most efficient way I found was to hire lots of people for relatively small jobs that would not impact production. This gave them an opportunity to show what they could do and if they did it well, could be given more challenging tasks and be engaged more regularly from there.
The cost of doing this was much less than the cost of having someone slowly messing things up and even more importantly, frustrating the rest of the team.
Productivity – Being challenged
The first thing I usually hear from business owners thinking about virtual employees is how to make sure they will be working.
This is actually the easiest part of going virtual. I found that if you find the right people first, the kinds of people that enjoy being challenged and most importantly, being part of a team, you have the right ingredients for success.
I don’t have to watch over or micro-manage anyone because each person knows the part they are doing is needed by the rest of the team.
Keeping people challenged and always involved in the team effort leads to self management by the team itself. Anyone not pulling their weight becomes obvious very quickly and that person usually feels the pressure so wants to try harder.
Management should plan work in a way that each person is tied to the team. Each is doing something that the rest of the team is needing so they can complete their task. No one likes to be the one that is holding everyone else back so this tends to work out on its own.
In a software development environment, there are always long lists of things to get done so there is always something to move on to.
Just my two cents but from my own, real experiences that continue to this day.
Mike Paradis – OutagesIO