Key factors for keeping your remote development teams happy and organized

Remote working in this digital era has grown exponentially since this covid global pandemic began. Ever since this pandemic started, here at Hamro we've noticed how more and more jobs are being offered as fully remote positions (specially in software development) rather than "remote friendly" or "in office work".

We've also noticed how most of them are also being moved or outsourced from big companies to smaller companies or freelancers that can work remotely and independently from their parent companies. How come this be? Is this a global new trend? Is it staying?

Remote workers also mean more flexible conditions

This is a fact - especially for digital nomads in developed countries. This global covid19 pandemic is making class warfare that sprang in the XIX and XXth century - and that gave birth to  workers rights or syndical unions - completely obsolete.

Before the pandemic, big tech companies were outsourcing jobs to their own branches in countries overseas. It is no secret that countries like India benefited the most from big tech companies opening branches in cities like Bangalore or Delhi because of their lower wages and more flexible hiring conditions.

This has been a trend that has been going on for all the 20th century. Big companies delocalizing to cheaper places looking for cheap labour. It happened here in Spain too, and it's the process that built China.

However, this digital push in this newcoming era, added to how easily people can remotely hire someone with a computer on the other part of the planet, has twisted hiring and working patterns into a slightly more convoluted-but-more-complicated path. One that countries still need to see and figure out how to tax.

Taxation between countries and how this is disrupting traditionally locally bound workplaces.

An international contract is the base agreement between one party and the other. Each part takes care of ensuring their end of their agreement does not break the law in their respective countries. Other than that, it is very difficult for governments to follow companies and how they hire remote services from abroad. Hence a worker only needs a computer, a stable internet connection and a bank account (or credit platform such as paypal, Skrill, Stripe, Binance, Coinbase... bitcoins) to begin working for a big tech company as a freelance developer. However, there is a darker side not deeply buried in this kind of legislation. These remote workers now have to agree to the working conditions of the hiring company no matter where it is.  A worker in Sweeden may have been granted up to 4 or 5 weeks of bank holidays, plus social security benefits, plus socialist rights such as minimum wage that were granted to them by the class warfare that took place last century. Nowadays they will have to get used to the company's conditions, since there are no international treaties that properly take care of these working condition differences.

A double edged blade

This works both ways too, citizens from countries with lesser working rights can also work remotely and with some more freedom towards countries that have better working conditions. I've seen it myself how hiring people from countries like India or Nepal, where its citizens are used to working six days a week now enjoy two day weekends and have more paid bank holidays than they previously had working for companies in Spain or United Kingdom.

Hiring remote freelancers is much easier and somewhat cheaper. You forget the hassle of going through your own country's paperwork and there are still no tariffs placed upon services offered by professionals (that would be very racist) in the same way this happens to products.

Many countries, like Costa Rica or Panama have had this sort of legistlation and understanding of international services for a long time. For instance, in Costa Rica, countries only have to pay taxes for activities that take place in Costa Rica, but are exempt of any taxation for business dealt outside of Costa Rica's Jurisdiction. 

There is also a downside

It's not all brilliant in Laughterville. There are some catches too. You don't get to fully control the work done by your worker (since he lives remotely) and if he or she behaves in a very naughty way then it becomes much harder to pursue him under the reach of the law. Meeting between all members of the team can also become a bit harder, since these sort of international contracts dont always allow for working visas to be issued to

Many big tech companies already have their offices setup in developing countries (and will continue to do whatever saves them as much money as possible), but nowadays it is becoming more and more simple and cheaper for middle sized companies to do exactly this. As long as the working schedule is clear, and the limitations are based upon a per-trust way depending on each worker, your company should be safe.

In a country like Spain, you must pay roughly about 30.50% of your worker's sallary extra to the government, in concept of social security, unemployment pension and health insurance. You also have to take care of compensation if someone has worked for a long time in your company and wish to fire him without any sort of justification

However, if you hire a freelancer, all of these protectionist taxes disapear. Is this good or bad? Depends on what you believe or want the global economy to be, and if you agree with socialist practices that govern most countries inside of the European Union (or USA to a certain point). It definately is a much more liberal way of approaching employment, and much faster and hassle free. It does come with a downside towards public governments, which is a little bit what this article is intended to talk about. Our governments and legislations are still not fully ready for this sort of transaction, and by the looks of it, they don't seem as if they'll be ready for a long time. It is time thay they start to catch up before it's too late.

Payment options are also wider

Since trading is now international, there are plenty of crypto currencies and coin exchanges where this sort of trading can happen with very little fees. Payment can be done instantly and work happen in a much more flexible way, adapting working hours to one timezone.

Payments can be held in one currency under a platform such as Revolut, Skrill or Paypal, and then be transfered to another currency when the market allows for this to happen in a cheaper way. And regarding crypto currencies, you would be impressed what being paid in cryptos means for one country.

For example, I have worked with many Freelancers from Venezuela or Argentina who refuse to be paid in their own bank accounts within their own country's currency.  Aware about the fact that their currencies have completely blacked out or their central banks defaulted too many times, it is much easier for them to accept payment in Ether, BNB, Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.

And that's not the end of it. There are also a wide variety of international insurance options that can also be offered to offer full health protection to these freelancers for as long as they are involved in working with you. More and more insurance companies are offering full health coverage in most of the countries they work with, bypassing social security and local health insurance standards

How to keep your freelance teams organized in this new digital age

Many of the limitations that stem from working remotely can easily be bypassed with some time and adapting your working methodology to match these new changing times and criteria. Fortunately, where countries have not managed to keep up, technology has.

There are many many options that can help you take care of remote work , such as Asana, Jira or Trello. These companies have spent billions of dollars in developing their businesess to help keep track of organized and decentralized work. By using an adequate methodology, your company shouldn't suffer much about having to organize properly.  It may be a bit different or complex at first, but definately worth the effort after a couple of weeks.

Scrumm and AGILE

SCRUMM and AGILE methodologies are prospects - a set of instructions , a basic idelogy - of how software should be developed without overplanning ahead and making companies and teams to be able to pivot without much trouble.

Despite the fact that SCRUMM / AGILE methodologies were designed with software development in mind, it does not mean that you cannot use these sort of methodologies in  non software development environments. There are many ways to adapt this sort of working methodologies and workflow controls to every single aspect of your everyday remote teams. From Virtual Assistants to electronic engineering, the true basis of scrumm methodologies is to make sure everyone in the team is focused in the task at hand that they must do and that the project manager has constant and updated feedback of what is going on. (It gets a little bit more complicated but the essence of it is simply that).

And I promise, it may sound weird but despite I learned about AGILE in university, and I practiced AGILE  while working in many internet companies, the place I learned the most AGILE was when volunteering in Nepal helping to build schools in the remote districts of Sindupalchowk and Nuwakot with a great american NGO. You can find out all about the experience here, but the key to the great work they did was their daily "scrumm" meetings where volunteers and staff members got togeher and talked about the work that had been done the previous day and the work that needed to be done the following days.

There was a lot of work to be done and trust me , working with solid concrete and complex buildings in such remote areas where roads are not always as "roady" as you need them to be for trucks to pass can be a very difficult task. Scarce resources and logistics were balanced with an excellent teamwork effort and a multicultural approach where people from every corner of the planet would come and put their on way of working.

The key to success

What I have found out during these years has been that the key to success when working with remote teams and human resources is not their qualifications , but more the psychology and vibes of the team you work with. Trying to understand the needs and problems of your remote developers is a very complicated task - specially when you are working remote with people from different countries and nationalities. Maybe some people from some cultures will not be as open or as eager to talk about their problems with you or other team members. Maybe something you say in Spain may sound offensive for someone in India or Guatemala. There are many problems that may arise...

But, you have to use this to your advantage. A multicultural environment has a lot of benefits too and just like Aikido uses the strength of your oponent to win the combat, you must use the differences between your team to strengthen their cohesion and working output. Some of the ideas you can use are:

  • Listening to people while not assuming you are right.
  • Accepting that working standards vary from country to country and from person to person, you need patience and time for all members to work up to your standards.
  • Not everyone is designed to be happy, but this does not mean they are not worth the effort.
  • Lead by example. (always, always).
  • If you want people to open up, you can open up yourself to them first and let them follow.
  • Learn to follow instructions when members of your team know more about something you don't.
  • If you don't trust the work of someone, or think that he is lazying out, before confronting him present irrefutable evidence and give second chances.
  • When someone doesn't properly fit in the team don't grieve. If you need to let them go then let them go. 
  • Don't share guilt, share responsibilities. Share victories and achievements too.

Never talk about blame or blame anyone about anything, always talk about responsibilities instead. This is also a key factor in the mindset that has made me manage my best achievements and that has worked for me.

Lead By Example

I want to finish up this post by telling you a little story of when I was working back in Nepal. It had been a very sunny day and we had worked our asses out big time - I mean big time - pouring a concrete slab, carrying bricks and sand bags and mixing cement by hand because the cement mixer had broken down. It had been a very busy day and all of us volunteers - youngsters between 19 and 35 y/o - were knackered, all bent double, like old beggars under sacks. There were still 20 minutes to go and we had all sat down incapable of producing any more physical work after an extensive working day . All of us were complaining about what a difficult task we had achieved and how great the working day had been. But we still had 20 minutes to go and exhausted we simply didn't have the energy.

And then, all along came our Project Coordinator. The guy's name was Bill Murray, a very tough veteran, who must have been around 70 y/o at the time. He didn't murmure a word out of his mouth, he simply carried on working, carrying bricks from place to place and getting some of tomorrow's work done. He simply passed by right in front of all of us. An old guy carrying a heavy load of bricks right in front of a crowd of 20 youngsters. This is what I call leading by example,  because all of us simply stood up and kept on working, advancing on tomorrow's job till the bell rang.

If you can inspire people the same way, trust me my friend, all of your projects will end up in good port and properly finished. ​Your dev teams will run smoothly like a clock.

Outsourcing with Hamro Dev

This is the part we do well. At the end of the day, developing apps and projects all rely heavily on human resources and simply people. It's got more to do with the vibes, the psychology and the teamwork rather than the individual qualifications of each member. This does not mean that qualifications and knowledge don't matter. Not at all, but they are not only that. You cannot expect a university degree to complete a project by itself without the human behind it being happy and feeling comfortable about what he or she is doing.

Now this is the tricky part, and that is what we know and have learned about. So if you need help in this, don't hessitate:

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