The Many Benefits of Hiring Remote Developers for Your IT Projects
8 min read
In the old days hiring new development resources consisted of running and ad, screening resumes, setting up interviews and interviewing people from the local area. This was fine if your operation was in a big city and there was a large pool of talent to choose from. But now that almost every organization needs IT services, even ones in small towns and rural environments, the local talent pool isn’t large enough or diverse enough to meet the need. Businesses need help with their IT projects and are seeking ways to gain additional help. Outsourcing by hiring remote developers to do custom software design and development can be the best solution for them for many reasons and has many benefits.
Challenges companies face keeping skilled software development staff
Business leaders are having a significant problem with retaining IT employees, especially during the time known as the “great resignation” which was spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most industries, the IT industry has a normal turnover as employees seek better opportunities. Because IT is in such high demand, even the pandemic did not put a dent in the velocity of growth of the IT industry. And since most employees were working from home, IT was one of the few industries that thrived and even grew in the middle of the pandemic. Many businesses had to learn how to operate remotely with their own teams which opened up opportunities for outsourcing as a way to increase their flexibility and options for staffing. Then overnight, the unthinkable, developers working remotely not only was possible but actually advantageous for a number of reasons.
The Benefits of Outsourcing
There are many benefits of outsourcing all or part of your IT software development projects. Here are some of them:
- Lower Cost. You can reduce your operational expenses by lowering the cost of development. If an employee is working from home, you will have less overhead than you would if you were providing office space. And if that employee is a contract employee working on a 1099 or you hire an outsourced software development firm, then you can avoid payroll taxes. Also, with outsourced IT firms you can avoid paying employee benefits such as health coverage and retirement.
- Larger Talent Pool. The ability to hire from anywhere in the US instead of competing for local talent enables an organization to get a team member with deeper software expertise. This is particularly important for lesser-known software technologies that may not be available locally.
- Productivity. You can get better productivity from a remote team. Studies have shown that when people work form home they produce more and tend to work longer. Project management tools are a must when working with a remote team, whereas they may have been optional in the past in an office setting. Project management tools keep everyone focused on what they need to accomplish.
- Better Quality of Life for the Developers. Software developers really enjoy working remotely because
- There is no stress associated with a commute.
- Flexible hours give them the ability to tend to family needs and personal appointments like visiting a dentist or staying home with a sick child.
- Better work/life balance.
- Better mental and physical health, fewer sick days, less chance of catching a cold or COVID-19.
- Tax advantages of having a home office.
- No more commute expense, gasoline, wear and tear on your car.
- In project crunch times for contract remote employees, they can make more money because there are more hours in a day due to less commute time.
- Employee Retention. In the old days it was common to say with the same firm for 10, 15, 20 years. Now, IT employees stay 2, 3, 4 years then move on. By allowing remote work you are letting them live their lives on their own terms and they will be less likely to move on.
- Better Communication Among Team Members. Remote work fosters the use of collaboration tools that ensure project performance and timeline regardless of the location of the developers.
- Flexibility. Remote development gives an organization more flexibility to be as nimble as needed to meet or exceed project timelines.
- Scalability. Using a remote software development team allows an organization to scale up or scale down as demand for software development dictates. If you find that you have an ambitious deadline, for example, getting certain software systems online before the Christmas rush, you can always have your outsourced virtual scalable IT department add a few more people to the project to meet your deadline. Then scale down again after the holidays.
- Faster Time to Market. Whether you are building a software product or software for internal use, an organization can reap the benefits sooner from using remote development. Again, this ties into scalability. So do you put 2 developers on the job and get it done in 12 months or do you put 4 remote developers on the project and get it done in 6 months. What is the value to your organization in getting the software project done 6 months earlier?
- Leverage Time Zone Differences. Depending on where the developers are, taking advantage of time zone differences can be beneficial. If a team member is offshore, that person can easily do things that are difficult to do here, like deploying a web application release in the middle of the night to minimize disruption to users. Another example is if a client notifies the team-lead at 6 pm, on her way out the door, that there is an issue with the application, it is entirely possible that it will be resolved by the time she comes back in the morning.
- Remote Meetings. Companies no longer need to send employees to the far ends of the world to service clients and attend company meetings, they can meet remotely. Yes, I will shed a very tiny tear for the airlines and hotels that lose all of this business.
- Outside Knowledge. By relying on remote IT services, you have the ability to bring in more costly external knowledge on a temporary basis to tackle really tough problems. For example, let’s say your team consists of ASP.NET developers but they aren’t well versed in Azure cloud server setup. You could simply bring in an Azure expert just long enough to get the environment set up.
What are the issues to watch out for when hiring remote developers?
When hiring remote developers there are a number of things to keep in mind to ensure your success. Be aware of these issues that could reduce productivity and upend your project.
- Distraction. One of the biggest issues to watch out for is employee distractions when working from home. For some people, this is really tough. When I first started working remotely in the early 2000s, the refrigerator would call to me all day…“Lance come to me!” I found myself checking the refrigerator 10 times a day even though I know exactly what was in there. I had to come up with some personal rules about when I ate. Employees must have a separate, dedicated workspace where they can focus preferably with good lighting and free of clutter. It should be as professional and comfortable as a workspace in a traditional office setting. This is especially important today when people need to do Zoom / Teams / GoToMeeting calls from the home office. It has to look professional especially if they are talking to clients with video.
- Burnout. Remote software developers can burnout because it is hard for some people to know when their workday starts and stops. To combat this, they should develop a daily routine that separates work from home life and adhere to a regular hourly schedule. Having a good workspace separate from the family space also helps with enforce the separation of work and rest.
- Isolation. Employees need to get out of the house at least once per day. Isolation can lead to depression and loss of productivity. Back in the early 2000’s when I started working remotely, I was going crazy. I was single and never got out of the house. To get myself out of the house I did 2 things: 1) I jogged every day and 2) I would only buy enough food for 1 day. This forced me to get out of my home office at least once a day. It was not only rejuvenating but I also had the freshest salad possible every day!
- Good Lighting. Many people living in southern states may have never heard of “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or “SAD”. It’s a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. Because the Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5°, places closer to equator will have about the same number of daylight hours throughout the year. Therefore, the change in daylight in Miami is less than here in central New Hampshire. So, for us northerners, SAD is a real thing. The good news is that the affects of SAD can be reduced by having good lighting in your workspace especially in the winter months. According to the Mayo Clinic, light therapy sessions of as little as 20 minutes can significantly help with severe cases of SAD.
- Good Computer Hardware. Employees need to have reliable high-speed internet capability otherwise they need to upgrade it to work productively because real-time zoom meetings are the norm now. Employees need a good camera and a high-quality microphone. Having high end headsets are also a good option. Jabra has a good line of high-end headsets including wireless headsets. Also, if they have old computers, they should be upgraded or replaced. You don’t want your mission critical application that is being developed lost because it was on a 10-year-old home computer on its last leg.
- Backups & Code Repositories. Make sure that each employee is using a cloud base code repository like GitHub so that the team can collaborate, and the code isn’t lost if someone’s hard drive crashes. Likewise, make sure every employee has a local automatic cloud backup. Carbonite is a common tool for doing this.
- Anti-Virus Software. If the employee is using their own hardware, make sure they have proper anti-virus software installed on their development machine. Do an audit of every employee’s computer to ensure that everyone is up to date with the latest anti-virus software.
- Security. Since employees will not be working behind a corporate firewall, you may consider having them connect to resources via VPN especially if you are dealing with sensitive data. You need to treat security with the even more importance than you would if they are in the office.
- Discipline. Employees need to have more disciple when there isn’t someone managing every minute of their day. They need to be self-starters. They can also have issues with motivation which can be solved by having frequent meetings, using project management tools, and keeping an eye on employee progress.
- Communication. Instant messaging should be set up for each team member. Just like a team member could walk over to a colleague’s desk and have an impromptu conversation about the project in an office, remote teams need to be able to do the same.
- Calendars & Scheduling. All team members should have both a personal calendar and a team calendar so that people can plan meetings and know each other’s availability.
- Time Tracking. Tracking the amount of time a remote developer puts in is valuable information for a number of reasons. Obviously, if you are paying someone for 8 hours of work, they should be putting in at least 8 and not 4 hours. Conversely if you see someone is consistently putting in 12-hour days, that can lead to burnout and is not sustainable. If a project is being billed hourly, time tracking is essential. For 20 years, we have used a very simple time tracking tool called trackmyhours.com. If you need something more sophisticated, there are many time tracking tools on the market.
- Set Remote Work Expectations. In his #1 selling book The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber describes how the most successful businesses document their processes as if they were a franchise (think McDonalds). Management needs to set clear expectations for the work relations, work ethic, meetings, hours of operation, the rules of team interaction, and client interaction. Do not assume that all team members are on the same page. Spell it out in a policy document: “How we work remotely at XYZ Company, Inc.”
How to Hire Remote Developers
The best way to hire remote developers is to work with an outsourced software development company that has years of experience in managing a remote software team. In this way, you can bring in the skills you need for your project and the ability to scale the resources as needed. It also provides additional project management resources that help a business keep all of the moving parts synchronized.
In summary, businesses should consider hiring remote developers for their custom software development projects because of the many benefits and the flexibility it adds to their operations. By selecting a trusted software outsourcing company, they gain a partner in their success as well as the development resources.
To find out more information about the best free ASP.NET development tools that you can leverage for your next big project, or to get answers to any other important questions you might have, please contact Keene Systems today. You can also download our great new eBook - Why ASP.NET Development Services Fuels Business Growth - to learn more about this essential topic.