Satellite staffing is becoming a very economical alternative to opening a large office everywhere you do business.
This modern practise also allows employers to bring the best and brightest together in their company, without requiring employees to pack up and move closer to headquarters.
Finally, the cost-saving benefits of hiring skilled workers in countries where salary demands are much lower are a VERY enticing benefit that modern employers are eager to utilize in their business model.
1. Have a Solid Collaboration System in Place
Milestones have to be met, and employee requests have to be addressed and honored. This is what business is all about. You, as a people manager, can’t treat your remote staff as a set it and forget it setup. They’ll have questions and if they can’t get those questions answers, your business can go south quickly. Just the same: if they aren’t able to take a vacation because their request got “lost in the mail” they’ll soon be offering their skills to another company with a better communication system in place.
Make sure that employees can actually reach their managers and advisors at any hour. If your staff all work within the same time zone, this will be much easier to achieve. Otherwise, it’s important that overseas staff can get in touch and receive answers to their questions and requests instantly. If you’re a small startup owner, this responsibility will likely be yours and yours alone.
2. Meet in Person Regularly
As an owner or manager of a satellite staff, you will have to make more of an effort to touch base with your employees, in person and on a regular basis. If your staff is spread out globally, this can be a challenge, but the loyalty it can garner will be priceless to your company’s success. When your satellite staffers see you and/or your management team are willing to make the trip – be it 10 miles or 10,000 – they’ll feel like they’re more than just another number.
Consider how your mother would feel if all you ever did was call her on the phone or email her…
Talking with people over Skype or Google Hangouts just isn’t as effective, particularly when you consider how laggy each of these, the two most popular online video chat platforms still are despite exceedingly higher ISP bandwidths being offered across the board. Why in this day and age, you ask, do they still suck? Nobody knows. Smart devices get smarter and Skype still squeaks and wags like a mouse caught in a trap.
3. Provide Constant Feedback
The “out of sight, out of mind” mentality can get out of control, alienating supervisors from their remote staff, and making employees feel like they’re not really part of a team. Constant feedback ensures that important projects don’t go sideways, drifting further and further away from the end goal. This goes beyond using an EMS (Employee Management System), most of which are geared strictly toward tracking performance-related information.
A very common mistake with satellite staff managers is to give instruction, then wait for a project to be finished before offering feedback or guidance. Not only does this waste your money, it wastes the employee’s valuable time, and often results in finger pointing which creates tension and kills the loyalty factor. Make sure your employees are required to document where they’re spending their time; how many sales their making, what step they’re at in the design process, etc. Then make sure you or a manager is assessing their progress and letting them know whether they’re on the right track or not.
4. Steer Clear of Subjective Joking, Sarcasm and Teasing
Most of us have been online for at least a decade, if not more. We all know that lines can get crossed, comments misinterpreted, etc. If you’re going to joke around, stick with those that start with “why did the chicken cross the road” or similar. At least until you really know the employee.
You might think you’re the wittiest person on the planet, but you don’t have the convenience of spending the rest of the day with “Sing” from Singapore, who may or may not speak good English, after you jokingly tell him that you just love the new trendy “messy” look he’s now styling his hair with, while the two of you are talking on Skype. He may leave the conversation feeling like you’re insulting him and soon grow to resent you for your subjective compliment, once again killing loyalty and possibly reducing quality of work.