Being prepared for change can be difficult if you don’t know what’s changing. In the case of hiring remote staff (or outsourcing), you should be aware of what is happening and can prepare accordingly. Being prepared or over preparing allows you the luxury to make mistakes as you can always look back on your plan to get back on track.
- Inform Your Current Staff
Part of preparing your company for remote staffing is being transparent. Make sure you explain to them the long term goals and benefits of having remote staff. Talking to them about how remote staffing will affect their work will help quell any initial pushback to the change. If no one is being let go, make sure to stress that point as the initial worry about hiring remote workers is the fear of being replaced. If your goal is just to add staff in order to ease the downward pressure your team has on them, let your team know.
- Identify Who/What/Why You Need Help
Using data, such as KPIs, make a list or where you need help or what areas could be improved. Generally, if you’re starting up, the weakest points of your company should be the ones you outsource. You shouldn’t have enough time to fix these issues with all the other items on your plate, so hiring professionals to take over the task is a viable strategy. From this list you can narrow it down even further, create a list of jobs that have to be done continuously and then create another list of temporary jobs. The temporary jobs can be done by project or contract based freelancers as there shouldn’t be a need to keep them on a retainer after they do their initial work. The jobs that make it onto the continuous list, are the ones you want to hire remote staff for.
Once you have your list of jobs, you’re going to want to create a job title and a description for it. Don’t worry as these job titles and descriptions won’t be set in stone and the remote staffing company you hire will help you through this process. It is always good to know what you need before going with remote staff. Having a draft job title and description helps speed up the recruitment process, so you get to have your staff start sooner.
- Setting Up Points Of Contact
It’s always a good idea to have your points of contact established or at least roughly sketched out before they’re actually needed. The types of contact needed with remote staff are:
- a contact for the actual staff
- a contact for their oversight team
The same person can do both or you could add more people. Throwing out an example, you could have one main point of contact and a couple of secondary POCs for when the primary is busy. You just need to find the right mix for your company. You should also establish rules for contacting one another. If you’d like to have a free and open style of communication then you can use communication tools that allow for this, something like Skype or Slack that lets you message from anywhere at any time. Some people like setting boundaries so messages are only allowed during working hours, this works as well, just make sure that no matter the style of communication you choose to use, your staff clearly understands what is being asked of them.
- Create A Timeline For Your Remote Staff
You need to map out what you want from your staff and when you want it. Creating a timeline for when you want staff to be able to hit certain milestones or goals is necessary when trying to gauge if they’re going to be with your company long term or if you’ll need a replacement in the near future. Having a clear document noting all of these milestones and goals will help everyone involved. Your remote staff will know what is expected of them, your contacts at the BPO will be able to create a sort of structure to follow in order to help your staff hit those goals. If you elect to hire people who can just be plugged into the role and immediately perform, you can forgo a training schedule, but make sure to still have a system to measure their effectiveness so you can decide whether or not they’re a right fit for your company.
- Set Up The Proper Tools
Having the proper tools to do the job makes a world of difference for any staff member, in office or remote. These tools can be split into three main categories:
- Main tools to do the job
- Communication tools
- Organizational/Team Management software
The main tools differ from job to job. Most jobs will require a mix of hardware and software. Take a sales representative for example, they need a PC, a phone or a phone dialer application, and leads. Digging deeper, they need good leads if you want sales. If they spend half of their day calling wrong numbers, people who aren’t interested, people who can’t speak the language your sales people speak, then time is being wasted. Other examples would be the Adobe Creative Suite for designers and editors, AutoCAD for architects and engineers, and the list goes on with different positions. Good or proper tools allow for efficient work and help raise employee morale.
Proper communication leads to better results, which is why having a method of communication or a way to engage with your remote employees is important. You should select an application that can be used in whatever location your staff are in, setting up an entire system for communication only to find out that it’s region locked, isn’t a fun time. This may require you to do a bit of research or you could simply ask your point of contact at the BPO what apps are being used there, in order to get a list to choose from. Commonly used examples of this are: Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, and Zoom. As stated above, make sure that you select how frequently your staff can message you, if you’re okay with having messages sent 24/7 then by all means communicate that with your staff, but if you don’t want to be messaged during certain hours or days, make that clear as well.
Last but not least, team/project management tools. These help your staff stay organized and on track to meet deadlines. These software usually have 3 main features: scheduling tools, task/project management tools, and a collaboration feature. The scheduling tool essentially works like a calendar, where you can set deadlines for anything, this is closely related to the task/project management feature as the deadlines for these can be set as well. Project management usually comes in the form of a kanban board, where a project is put onto a board with different sections that represent the different stages of a project, from conceptualization to completion. This project card can be moved from section to section by the people involved in the process, this allows you to see where everyone is at with a project and is also the collaborative aspect of the tool. Notes can also be added to the project card so people can ask for help or for clarification while others can answer. Some examples of this are: Trello, Asana, and Basecamp.
If everything is done correctly, you should be as organized and ready as you can to have your remote staff start working. The best part about being organized and having the right tools is the ability to grow or scale up easily. In the event that your business hit’s a hockey stick chart type of growth, having a solid foundation allows you to just add more staff, the organization, tools, and culture are already laid out and it should be smooth sailing from there.