Why Working With Offsite Resources Isn't as Hard as You Think
by Michael Burdick, on Jul 17, 2018
Not everyone is on the Google bus
Today, thousands of companies utilize offsite talent, but if you want to look for an iconic one that also happens to have a huge onsite staff, look no further than Mountain View, California. Better known for the perks it provides its onsite employees, tech giant Google has been leveraging outsourced staff for years, including IT specialists, developers, and other virtual assistants. If you ever wondered who does the phone and email support for Google AdWords—that would be about 1,000 outsourced reps.
But it’s not only big companies like Google that have the infrastructure for an extensive offsite program. Companies of all sizes are now using offsite resources to complement their in-house workforce and expand their available pool of talent.
You know this. You’ve talked about it with your business partners and managers. And, mindful of the cost savings on overhead and the flexibility your offsite team can give you, you’re ready to give it a try—but still, you’re hesitating.
Will it take too much work? Will there be a huge ramp-up process? Will we have the communication protocols in place to ensure smooth integration of offsite talent with the onsite team?
If you’re ready to make offsite talent part of the company, you’d be surprised how easy it is to integrate these personnel. You may even have the infrastructure already in place.
Ramping up off-site resources
On-boarding off-site employees should be no more difficult than onsite workers.
Like on-site employees, managers should expect to spend more time communicating company policies and setting expectations at the beginning of the relationship. The feedback loop is extremely important for these earlier days, as it allows the employee to understand what exactly you want out of their deliverables.
During this process, it’s important to adapt to each other’s communication and work expectations. Review their work and to communicate honestly when something is not done quite right.
As the off-site employee becomes more and more capable and proficient, managers can slowly dial down the frequent communication to something more sustainable, such as weekly progress report—but never any less frequent. There should always be consistent contact between the off-site resource and the company.
Related Article: The Employers' Guide to Effective Telecommuting
It's all about communication
With established and effective communication protocols, your remote employees won’t seem so far away.
With tools like Skype and Slack now, onboarding can be done remotely, which creates a virtual office environment, allowing team members to talk face to face, and keep up with workflow on channels everyone has access to. Instead of walking over to a coworker’s desk, employees can just use slack to shoot over a few questions, create groups for certain projects, or just get to know one another as coworkers.
Along with regular phone and email check-ins, proper onboarding and follow-up communication through established protocols can seamlessly integrate the offsite employee into the onsite team.
Related Articles: 4 Tips To Help You Effectively Manage Outsourced Workers
Why take the effort to integrate offsite employees?
Offsite employees who feel well-connected to the company via regular communication typically report greater happiness and increased efficiency in their home office environment. Without being able to lean on physical proximity, remote workers know they need to communicate with managers and team members more frequently, and with purpose. Meetings via Skype and video chat often become more punctual, streamlined, and efficient because on- and offsite employees need to coordinate when they will be “together,” leaving less wiggle room for inefficient meeting behavior like wandering in late or getting up to take calls.
In fact, if they don’t live geographically far away, you can bring them onsite for onboarding, where they can meet the team and managers face to face, get a feel for the office environment, and see firsthand how the team handles the workflow.
All of this can apply to part-time freelance and project-specific talent, although the need for regular communication will ebb and flow as assignments come and go. A tip to executives using offsite contractors on an intermittent basis: try to stay in regular touch even during downtime; the freelancer will appreciate the contact.
All deliverables can be done virtually
Back in the day, a freelance employee would have to bike across town with files on a floppy disk to physically deliver projects. Obviously, we have come a long way since then.
Now, if you have email and some form of transferring larger documents, then you’re basically good to start working with offsite employees.
The tech needs of outsourced talent will vary with the nature of the work and the relationship.
The important thing is that all deliverables can be sent, received, and shared remotely, as long as your offsite employees are set up with compatible software, which might include Office, Dropbox, Harvest, iDoneThis, or countless others.
Google Docs makes collaboration increasingly easy with its versioning capabilities and the ability to see which team member made what changes or suggestions.
Every day, countless new apps are created for this new era of remote working and it’s only getting easier to integrate offsite workers with the rest of the team.
Today, any given employee’s dream job might just as easily be performed a thousand miles from the office as on company grounds. Or the dream job might be working for ten companies at once. No matter the circumstance, collaborating with offsite resources aren’t as hard as people make it out to be. All it requires is well-defined job expectations, well-designed communication protocols, and the software to get the deliverables in hand on-time.
Beyond that, it just requires a company culture that accepts and nurtures the changing realities of the 21st century workplace. Those companies are out there--are you one of them?