Many small business owners have discovered the benefits of outsourcing. You can hire remote employees such as a freelance writer, tech support person and virtual assistant (VA) to support you. That way it frees you up to concentrate on business tasks that only you can do. It can greatly increase your productivity.
Hiring support staff also saves you money. Paying people to complete tasks that don’t bring in a lot of money means you can do the work that brings in the most profit for your business. You can hire people cost effectively by using bidding sites such as Elance. Freelancers bid on projects and you choose the person you want to work with.
It often takes some time to develop a staff that you feel comfortable with. When you see that the outsourcing staff completes assignments on time and takes initiative where it is needed, you will know you have hired the right people. Start with smaller assignments and build to bigger projects as you get to know the employee.
Part of outsourcing is managing your remote employees. It is not the same as managing employees who are in the same physical location. It involves a certain level of trust but it also requires you to have certain management skills.
When managing remote employees you need to:
1) Keep everyone on a schedule
Each employee will be responsible for different tasks. It is your job to coordinate the work so that things run smoothly. Assignments need to be completed on time. In order to ensure things come in on deadline you need to keep everyone on a schedule.
There are various ways to do that. You can keep a master schedule and send instructions to everyone individually with expected due dates. You can also use an app that organizes the schedule for you. Two examples of employee management apps are GoAssign and ShiftPlanning.
It can be a bit of a challenge to manage communication when employees are spread out all over the place. You need to trust that they will respond to you when you contact them. You also need to trust that they will contact you when there is a problem. Keep in mind that time zones can be different. You will need to come up with a plan to handle communication in that case.
One of my favorite places to outsource is Elance.com. I have hired hundreds of quality people from Elance and communication comes from within their platform.
You should set up one primary contact method. You can set up an email address for all communication and require that it be checked throughout the day. You can ask your employees to keep Skype running on their computer so you can check in with an instant message when necessary. You can even communicate by phone if that works best for you.
3) Video Conferencing
There will be times when you must meet with your team all at once even though they are in different geographic locations. Video conferencing is a great way to do this. Employees can sign in with a laptop wherever there are Internet connections. Of course the laptop must also have a webcam.
There are some terrific video conferencing programs. I recently read a Mega Meeting review that pointed out the benefits of their system. You can also use the Google+ Hangout feature. Do a little research to find the program that works best for you.
Many times time tracking is built into the platform you use to hire freelancers. However, if you are paying according to an invoice you want to make sure the staff uses some kind of time tracker software. Pay on a weekly basis to keep up with billing.
If you are paying per project make sure the details are negotiated up front and put in writing. That should also include what is expected of the employee and the dates when assignments should be submitted.
You can save time and money by outsourcing if you do it correctly. Follow the above tips and you will be able to stay on top of things. Once you have a team that meets your standards you will be glad you gave it a shot. Now you can hire your best people again and again. They get to know your personal style and rehiring becomes easy and effective.