If you’ve heard of distributed teams, but you’re still skeptical about the world of online work, you probably share a few of the common concerns that have kept others like you from trying it out. It’s a fairly typical first reaction—until you experience working with a high-functioning distributed team firsthand.
In fact, many businesses quickly discover that online work can be very valuable, and suits a variety of scenarios. If you still need a nudge, let’s run through a few of the most common concerns with online work and easy ways to solve for them. Also, read our 10 Things to Know Before Hiring a Remote Developer article for more information.
Myth #1: “Outsourcing product development is a terrible idea.”
Product development definitely isn’t something you should outsource—at least, not in the traditional “throw it over the wall” sense of outsourcing. But there is a big difference between outsourcing and building a distributed team. Distributed work done right creates a well-oiled hybrid team of employees and freelancers who get to know and respect each other. Traditional outsourcing, not so much.
When you work with an online freelancer, your process should be the same as it would be with someone who lives down the block. Interviewing, team coordination, open communication, collaboration, and everything else that goes into building a traditional team still applies. This isn’t about finding the cheapest person and sending them tasks to check off. (You wouldn’t take this approach with local talent—why do so when working with someone remotely?)
With a collaborative environment, distributed teams are a well-oiled machine.
The bottom line is that if you treat distributed team members as the important contributors that they are, they will deliver great results. Remember, you aren’t outsourcing—you’re building relationships.
Whatever development method you choose, remember to coordinate appropriately with your distributed team—they don’t have opportunities for the casual hallway conversations local team members benefit from. So encourage people to chat over a virtual water cooler (IRC, Upwork Messages, a persistent Skype chat room, etc.) and remind them to keep the remote team members in mind at all times. It’s important to build and grow meaningful team relationships. This means that collaboration on ideas, products, and services should be part of the program.
Myth #2: “The hiring process is going to be too slow.”
You might think that hiring online is slow or tedious. In reality, it’s much faster than hiring through traditional methods. On Upwork, that’s definitely the case—a quarter of our site’s job posts are filled within 24 hours, and the average time to hire is only three days. Traditional hiring can take months. With online hiring, you can learn a lot by reading online profiles before you decide to contact a professional.
Setting clear expectations up front lets you hire fast and hire right.
When hiring for technical work, companies post two types of jobs: short projects or longer-term roles.
How you write your job post is crucial to attracting the right talent and setting clear expectations from the start. As you would for a local developer, you need to give online candidates a compelling reason to work with you. Tell them what makes your company special, demonstrate your understanding of distributed teams, and share the importance of projects they’ll be handling.
Inviting five to 10 developers to apply to your job will also speed up the process. If you’re new to hiring online, going after tried-and-true talent will help make your first team-building experience go smoothly. On Upwork, you can filter candidates using client feedback scores, number of hours worked and other criteria, and by hourly rate to fit your budget.
Myth #3: “There won’t be any trust.”
How can you be sure that a worker who isn’t in an office can be held accountable for the work they’re doing? This is a common concern—and one of the most misplaced.
Focus on the relationship.
Keep in mind that freelancers who use online marketplaces rely on great feedback, testimonials, and references to secure more work in the future. They’re professionals with reputations to protect and they want to do a great job and build their own business.
An important step is to turn the relationship into a scalable one. Establish that there is mutual interest in a longer relationship from the start and take steps to make your remote team members feel valued.
Want to learn more about the possibilities of distributed teams, and how we’ve put them into action at Upwork? Download our free ebook Hire Fast & Build Things today and get tips for hiring and other best practices.