6 TIPS TO STAFF UP THE VIRTUAL WAY

Alas! The days of tossing paper clips over the partition to annoy your coworker in the next cubicle may be drawing to a close.

One of the benefits to business in the Age of the Internet is the increasing ease with which we can connect to professionals around the world. We see this happening in two basic ways:

First, businesses like Seuss Recruitment and thousands of others are more easily able to contract with freelancers to tackle specific projects.

Second, many businesses are finding less and less need to establish a “home office.” Instead they are building virtual offices, with employees located in a variety of strategic – or convenient – locations.

These developments have the effect of reducing the overhead for companies, lengthening their reach and deepening their talent pool. We’ve been able to “expand” Seuss Recruitment in these ways over the last few years, and we’d like to share a little of our experience and toss out a half dozen tips along the way.

Seuss Global

If you check out our contact page, you’ll see that Kieran is located in the Netherlands while Sabine is in Germany. We have additional staff members located around the EU such as the UK and the Portugal. Not too many years ago, it would have been difficult to maintain efficiency with that kind of separation. However, with Internet-based communications and advancements such as document sharing and cloud computing, the distance become somewhat irrelevant.

From our corners of the EU, we have worked with people and companies from the United States, Colombia, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Thailand and Indonesia. Overall, we would rate our experience working across borders as very positive. However, we had to do a little learning through trial and error. Sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you find a prince.

Freelancers to the Rescue

The virtual workspace also offers access to independent contractors, who can offer expertise without a full-time commitment (or costs). You can contract for everything from administrative help to website coding. Even a small company can have graphics that look like they came from a major corporation’s fully staffed art department.

If you have ongoing work or projects in one area, you’ll be able to establish a good working relationship with a freelancer or independent contractor. For one-off projects, such as producing a promotional video, there’s a good chance that you’ll contract with someone you may never again use.

In both cases, it’s smart to do a thorough job screening; but if you’re about to go into a “one-and-done” project, it’s especially important to be careful: discovering you have the wrong person when you’re well into the project can be a major setback.

Making Sure it Goes Right

We picked up some tips, which apply no matter how you connect with your provider, but are especially appropriate if you use a third-party site, such as Elance, oDesk or Guru.

  1. Overcommunicate: be clear and precise, never make assumptions and give the assignment in as many minute details as possible. Be certain to adequately describe what you require as a final deliverable. If you can’t express your expectations, no one can meet them.
  2. Include specific dates (milestones) when you expect certain parts of the project to be completed or when you need to review draft work.
  3. Check the freelancer’s portfolio and get a feel for how many projects the freelancer has successfully completed. Third-party sites offer rating systems that include client comments. Be sure this isn’t the first one or two projects for your freelancer, and be especially careful to find someone who has done projects similar to yours.
  4. Set your price. There may be some initial give and take to arrive at the price, and that’s fine. This is why the scope of your project needs to be clearly stated. If you find yourself issuing change orders after the work has started, it will cost you and also delay your deadline. Working with Freelance portals that place funds in escrow offer both parties “security” around payment.
  5. Maintain communication. Don’t just drop the project in the freelancer’s lap and walk away. Communicate weekly (or daily, if needed) to see how things are going. Also, answer any questions from your freelancer quickly. They are also working on other projects and, if yours slows down, they need to find more work to take up the slack; your project will end up on the bottom of the “to do” list.
  6. Put the brakes on when things go wrong. If you’re communicating frequently, you should be able to avoid this, or at least sense it at an early stage in the project. If the work is not going as you envisioned, it may be best to move on to another provider. Sometimes you can find freelancers who are inexpensive enough that you won’t take a big hit, but frankly it’s more important to get the work done right than accept second-rate work.

Editor’s Note: This article was previously posted by Seuss Consulting and has been slightly modified for Seuss Recruitment. For more articles and information about growing your life-sciences or biotech company please visit: http://www.consultseuss.com.