MOBE is a hybrid organization with some of our staff working in different countries and some in our headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Approximately 85 percent of MOBE’s staff are remote workers, making it a predominantly virtual company. And depending on the nature of your business, you may also need to hire people remotely, and notably, from all over the world.
The Challenges and Benefits
Running a virtual company has unique challenges compared to the conventional brick-and-mortar office. However, there are certain freedoms that a virtual company can give you that your standard workplace couldn’t.
One of the major plus points of running a virtual company is that it can work in various time zones. This means if it’s nighttime in your location, your company doesn’t have to stop its operations since you can have someone on the other side of the world who can keep everything running, thereby making you a “24-hour” company of sorts.
So, when you encounter setbacks, it can be resolved even as you sleep. For example, if you have a technical issue, you can hire experts from a different time zone to yours who can work on the issue while you’ve shut your main office down for the day.
Our staff at MOBE are producing content or resolving technical issues even when the Malaysia head office is closed. This continuous work process is a huge benefit of hiring people not only virtually, but also from various parts of the world.
Then again, having a global team can be challenging as you can’t have those crucial, much-needed, face-to-face meetings that are sometimes more effective than doing an online conference. Also, as you scale and begin to hire more remote staff, it can be easy to get lost in all the different time zones in which your staff are residing.
Map out Your Plan
Before you launch your virtual company or an organization much like MOBE, you should carefully plan out how you are going to do this. When MOBE reached about 30 staff members, I realized that we needed structure, hence the reason we created an organizational chart to make all the process systematic.
Only Hire the Best
To ensure that you hire the best candidates, run a thorough interview process. Don’t be hasty in selecting a candidate especially for key roles. Take your time so that you’re absolutely sure that your new team member will be a great fit for the company and will help the company to move forward.
Since there is a certain risk involved with hiring remote workers, like being unable to monitor people in person, you must ensure that you employ the best workers who fit the following criteria:
1. Excellent Expertise
Hiring individuals who are the best at what they do can give you quick results because you don’t have to teach them much. They can efficiently get the work done for you as they already have extensive experience in their fields. You won’t have to always worry about how they’re performing since it’s probably a given that they’ll produce the results you envision.
To determine which candidates are the experts in a position, check all their references and ask for samples of work to see if it reflects your requirements.
2. Good Cultural Fit
If your company has work ethics, values and principles to uphold, then you’ve got to make sure that your employees adhere to that culture. The last thing you need at such an early stage of your company’s growth is a troublesome staff who might cost your business a lot of money down the line.
Give your potential candidates a short test during the application process to find out how much they agree and identify with your company’s culture. Whoever scores the highest should be favored for employment.
Your remote staff will be working without supervision, so you have to be sure that they’re able to work at a higher standard. It can be difficult to guarantee this before hiring them, but you could always ask their references if needed.
Be direct and ask their references whether the potential candidate was able to work autonomously or not. You could also favor candidates who come from a remote background, as they already have the feel of the work environment and what it entails.
Former Chief Talent Officer of Netflix, Patty McCord, said that if you get the recruitment right, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle when it comes to making decisions on employees’ tenures. “The best thing you can do for employees—a perk better than foosball or free sushi—is to only hire ‘A’ players to work alongside each other. Excellent colleagues trump everything else,” said McCord.
Monitor Workers from Anywhere
If you struggle to manage your employees without avoiding the temptation to look over their shoulders every so often, you can use software that tracks your remote worker’s progress.
MOBE hires many employees through Upwork, an outsourcing platform that not only allows you to connect with professionals; it also uses a screenshot application that tracks your employees’ activity as they work. You can then monitor their progress easily, and see if they are carrying out their duties as required.
Use Online Messaging Services
Using instant messaging services can help you stay in touch with your team to know their progress, tasks and updates. We use Skype a lot and have various groups for almost each department. Our staff is expected to post notifications each time they make a sale or submit a new content article.
This way, I know what’s going on in the company thanks to the posts, and I don’t have to be around the team to control their every move.
Organize Regular Meetings
Holding regular meetings on platforms such as Google Hangouts or GoToWebinar can help you connect with your team once or twice a week for company updates and feedback. It also offers you the opportunity to tell your team about the company’s mission and future, and go over any targets that you may have reached or missed. You can easily record these meetings for filing and to allow team members to watch or listen in case they’re unable to attend.
Provide Orientation for New Team Members
After hiring someone, you must give them a comprehensive onboarding process that will help them adjust to your company’s culture, know their role and understand what’s expected of them.
At MOBE we have something called a HAT, whereby each individual’s role is defined by their respective HAT.
All job descriptions and tasks are also documented and can easily be found on the intranet. Once recruits are familiar with their HAT, they’ll know exactly what’s required of them, which saves the time of orienting them about the different duties they have to do.
As you scale and hiring more people becomes crucial, be wary of the temptation to over-hire. Only employ the right number of people for any task to save yourself the excessive costs and keep your company lean.
The same applies to the opposite: if you’re in need of more employees because of your company’s growth, you should not worry about costs and just hire people that you truly need. In fact, under-hiring could cost you a lot of money in the long run.
And when you build your first virtual team, just remember to hire the right people, especially in major management roles. Hiring slowly but surely is much better than hiring hastily but mistakenly. Once you have excellent employees and managers in place, working with a virtual team can be quite rewarding.