The Good and Bad of Working with a Remote Team
Digital technology and the Internet have evolved to a point that many businesses can work seamlessly with a remote team.
What is a remote team?
This is a group of individuals from various locations with possibly different core competencies and who work together using the avenues created by online digital technology. Digital technology has made it possible to connect regions through the Internet and it has given businesses new options to consider for their business development strategies.
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More and more businesses are resorting to using remote teams in their workforce. Proof of this can be seen in the growth of the global outsourcing industry.
Since 2000, global outsourcing has grown from a US$45.6 Billion industry to US$104.6 Billion in 2014. The estimated global value of the outsourcing industry in 2015 was US$600 Billion. The global growth of outsourcing reflects the changing perception of business towards the concept.
Outsourcing was primarily used as a cost saving strategy because it capitalized on comparative cost advantages and economies of scale. Businesses that outsourced for the first time took the conservative approach and contracted only the non-essential or non-core functions of the organization.
But as demand for efficient ways to produce deliverables and meet revenue targets grew, businesses began to outsource tasks and responsibilities that were highly specialized. Outsourcing as a strategy became more flexible and not limited to just support services.
Outsourcing became an accessible strategy even for small businesses which had limited capital and other resources. If a business wanted to hire talent to run its various departments, it did not have to resort to hiring full-time regular employees. It could simply put together a remote team.
Here are the benefits or the “Good” of working with a remote team:
1. Streamline Cost
When you outsource work to remote talent, you are essentially hiring people who are proprietors of their own business. Thus, you only pay them for the hours they worked.
Remote workers are responsible for their own cost of doing business. They pay for their own Internet, power, utilities, rent, benefits and other direct costs. By contracting remote workers, you do not incur incremental costs in your operating budget.
2. Lower Risk of Business Expansion
If your business is showing signs of steady growth and you decide to expand capacity, setting up a remote team will be a great option because it lowers the risk of expansion.
You can expand or hire according to immediate need. For example, if you are engaged in online retail, you can hire someone to manage the increased volume of inquiries. As the volume of transactions increase, hire a person who can manage your accounting records.
You do not have to hire anyone until your numbers confirm that an expansion plan is in order.
3. Increase Productivity
By delegating specific tasks to people with the correct core competencies you can increase productivity. In the first place, you can be free of managing non-core tasks and instead focus on the core functions of the business.
Second, by hiring people with the right competencies, you can have specific work done accurately and affordably without compromising quality.
4. Improve Flexibility
If you need your business to run 24/7, hiring a remote team will get it done. You should consider hiring talent from remote locations such as the Philippines and India which have consistently led the global outsourcing industry.
When you hire talent from these remote locations, you have greater business flexibility because of time zone differentials. For example, you can designate a remote sales team to work with you during office hours then have a remote customer support team to manage you business after office hours.
The customer support team can immediately attend to inquiries, concerns and questions and thereby fortify your customer retention program.
5. Capitalize on Highly Qualified Talent
In the United States it can be said that the jump off point for outsourcing occurred in Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s.
US companies started to explore the possibilities of working with India which had the reputation of having the best minds in Information Technology or IT.
Keep in mind that talent is not proprietary to developed countries. You can find amazing talent in remote, far off locations not just in the Philippines and India but in other parts of the world.
Not only are remote workers highly qualified but the costs of hiring them are generally lower than those in your locale.
But working with a remote team also has it disadvantages or “Bad” points:
1. Social and Cultural Differences
Whenever you hire talent from a remote location you have to acknowledge that cultural and social differences will exist.
Every individual is shaped by the course of events in his or her history. A country’s traditions and practices are influenced by behaviors that have been handed down from generations.
In a contrast of opinion, differences are reflected by perception. Each culture may assess a circumstance from a different perspective because people view from different filters.
Thus in a remote team, instead of determining who is right or wrong, simply reach out and try to understand his or her perspective and work together to arrive at a middle ground.
2. Hiring Wrong- Fit Personalities
Even in a regular office environment, you can end up hiring wrong fit personalities. The problem gets multiplied with a remote team because logistic and latency issues exist. It’s easier to have disconnect exist with a remote team than in an office setting.
Again cultural and social differences can play a factor. But generally, the absence of close physical collaboration creates a huge filter for identifying right fit personalities.
3. Communication Issues
In addition to social and cultural differences, communication issues can arise due to the following factors:
- Language barriers
- Internet connectivity; infrastructure
- Time zone differentials
You have to invest time and resources to improve communication channels so you can minimize the risk of misunderstandings and mistakes.
Overall, hiring a remote team will be good for your business. It will take more time, resources and effort to manage a remote team but in due time, the work will pay out dividends.