Hire Locally or Remotely? Short guide for project managers.

By George Fironov ·Subscribe


Have you considered adding remote developers to your team yet? If not, it’s time to at least start thinking about it – the market for remote jobs is growing at a fast pace.

Last year one of the most popular social media companies, Buffer, surveyed almost 2,000 workers and entrepreneurs for their State of Remote Work report. According to the results:

Among survey respondents who run their own companies, 88% had always intended to support remote work. – Hailley Griffis, Buffer

This was a year ago. About ten years ago remote work was still a sort of luxury, seen as odd or weird by some people, and considered to be the silver-bullet solution to job market issues by others. Buffer’s survey showed that remote work is nothing extraordinary anymore.

Almost four quarters after the Buffer report, the good people at LinkedIn published an Emerging Jobs report based on data collected from their platform. Among the top five emerging jobs, 3 of them were in software development:

  • Blockchain Developer
  • Machine Learning Engineer
  • Machine Learning Specialist

Based on this data, and I’m confident other reports would support this, we can be sure of at least two things:

1) Workers and entrepreneurs are more open than ever to remote cooperation.

2) There is a constant shortage of developers.

This means that even if you don’t have an explicit need for hiring remote developers at the moment, there might soon come a time when you have no other choice.

In order to help you prepare for that moment, I’ve outlined the two major differences between hiring remotely and locally.

Hiring Remotely or Locally? – 2 Major Differences

1) Bigger talent pool <-> language / timezone issues

The first big difference is quite obviously the sheer amount of possibilities that open up to you when you decide to hire remotely. Remote job boards and outstaffing companies from around the world make it much easier to find candidates who will possess the exact technological expertise that you need.

However, you need to pay a lot more attention to soft skills. Outstaffing companies evaluate technical / soft skills for you, but if you’re posting on a job board or sourcing candidates from social media, you’ll have to work out a few things:

  • How do you evaluate the soft skills (communication, ability to work under pressure, teamwork skills, managing priorities and deadlines) of a candidate whom you’ll never meet in person?
  • What type of project management strategy or process should you use? Will it help you avoid issues from miscommunication, as well as language and cultural differences?
  • How will you manage stand-ups and other calls when team members are in different time-zones?

2) Less management tasks <-> communication is crucial to success

Remote work reduces the amount of traditional everyday management tasks. You won’t have to worry about creating a pleasant office environment or waste time commuting to get to important team meetings. You’ll avoid a lot of office-related time-wasters.

However, that comes at a price. When your whole team is on-location everyday, managing urgent situations, bug fixes, and other emergencies can seem a bit easier. It’s also easier to communicate… although is it really? This comes with a caveat.

It might be easier to reach a developer by walking to another room instead of relying only on the internet and the phone to communicate mission-critical updates. But we must remember that software development demands a lot of focus and long-term problem solving, which drains brainpower, and requires the programmer to enter a so-called state of flow in order to reach peak productivity.

One of the biggest enemies of flow is interruption. In an office environment not every interruption is a mission-critical updates. Actually, most aren’t, and everybody who’s ever worked at an office knows that.

On the flipside of things, remote developers have a unique opportunity to self-organize, and create a workflow which suits them best, and helps them reach the state of flow on a regular basis. What does this mean for managers?

Managers can allow more freedom to team members as far as organising their workday. However, in order to manage them properly, it is absolutely crucial to re-define and automate your communication process for remote cooperation.

How should you change your communication process for maximum productivity with remote workers?

  • Prepare a step-by-step guide for mission-critical updates, like system failures and ASAP fixes. Developers will then be able to switch off all other notifications when they need to focus on work, but they’ll still get notified when the s**t hits the fan.
  • Organise your communication tech. Should your team chat on Slack or Skype? Should you use Facebook’s Workplace to manage tasks? Skype, or Hangouts for weekly stand-up calls? With endless options, you should take time to think it through, and enforce exclusive use of chosen platforms for work-related discussions and calls.
  • Lead by example. Great communication practices have to be forged, and just like forging steel it requires a lot of strength and regular practice. If you want remote team members to communicate with you in a certain way, you must lead by example. Be a great communicator, and your team will adopt your practices once they see that they help keep projects on the right track.

Transitions aren’t easy, but this one is worth it

Being able to source, hire and manage remote workers is becoming an important skill for entrepreneurs and managers. More and more B2B companies are built this way, and the likes of Zapier or Buffer provide proof that remote work doesn’t get in the way of revenue.

But, like with all marketable skills, it takes experience to learn the ins-and-outs of remote cooperation. If you’re having trouble finding the right team members locally, it might be time to consider remote hiring. Hopefully the advice in this article will help you, or at least guide you in avoiding the common pitfalls of first-time remote hiring.

…and if you would like to try outstaffing (sourcing candidates, choosing the ideal candidate, hiring and formalities done-for-you), check out what we can do for you – Talmatic.