Outsourcing has probably been the best thing that happened to businesses worldwide, but it has particularly been a boon for small to mid-scale businesses. On a similar note, while the freelancer may have been the most commonly identified face of outsourcing, other revolutionary concepts have made inroads into the best practices in outsourcing. One such concept is that of hiring a dedicated virtual employee for handling the outsourced work.
How can a small, individual-owned business or a medium-sized company go about hiring a virtual employee?
First and foremost, remember that outsourcing does not always mean fixed-cost project outsourcing in which entire projects are outsourced completely to some vendor whose team then works on it and sends back the finished product. There are other kinds of outsourcing, namely, the remote or virtual employee. This kind of concept is about actually having a dedicated employee who would work with your company for a long-term basis.
Here are some steps that simplify this process.
1. Identify your requirement. This is obviously a critical component in any business decision, big or small. What is your requirement? Identify the reasons behind your company's desire to outsource. It could be to reduce operational costs; to make up for lack of in-house expertise to handle certain tasks; to save time and manpower resources. Once the requirement is clear, it becomes easier to chalk out a strategy for initiating the outsourcing process.
2. Google it. That's right, all the information you want about outsourcing is out there on the internet. Do some research and find out all about the benefits of hiring a dedicated virtual employee. India, Philippines, and China are among the most popular countries for outsourcing with India being the world's favourite outsourcing destination. So, rather than hiring one software engineer and a PHP developer from India, and one customer care executive from the Philippines it is more practical and convenient to search for a good dedicated offshore employee service provider who can provide you with an entire team of virtual employees.
3. Do a careful background check of the outsourcing service provider. The right outsourcing vendor will decide whether your forays into outsourcing will be successful or not. A reputed remote staffing company will be well equipped with the best infrastructure, latest hardware and software and technology, proper HR and IT back-up and all the pre-requisites of a world-class office environment.
4. Conduct an intensive interview with the candidate. The really reputed and established vendors will have a very thorough recruitment process in place, geared towards finding the most suitable employee for their client. The client-candidate interview allows the prospective employer to closely question the short-listed candidates, testing their knowledge and skills in the desired domain. And since the client would have been closely involved in the hiring process, the chances of recruiting an unsuitable virtual employee are almost negligible.
5. You can request for a trial period from the remote employee service provider. This may be a paid trial period but it is worth the money spent because you don't want to be saddled with an unsuitable employee who might end up derailing the entire outsourcing process.
6. Once the virtual employee has been selected, ensure that there is a clear understanding of goals, work type, amount of work required to be done by the virtual employee, communication/collaboration, issue resolution, responsibilities, accountability, key performance indicators, performance incentives, and other needs. In other words, be very clear and transparent.
7, If required, make arrangements for relevant and regular training for your remote employee. This could be conducted virtually, using modern technology such as Skype, emails or video conferencing.
8. Communicate regularly with your remote employee. Since both you and your virtual worker are sitting thousands of miles away from each other, it is vital to regularly communicate with them. Try and fix a day in the week for video conferencing, particularly if you have an entire team of virtual employees working for you. Respond promptly to emails, be available on Skype and make sure there is someone to help out your employee in case you are not available at that point of time.
These easy seven steps should make working with a virtual employee easy for small and medium-scale businesses.
Daya Mukherjee is a Senior Content Writer and Editor working for a Remote Staffing Outsourcing company in India. You can find out more information by visiting our Outsourcing Services,Outsourcing Firms Web site and Our Offshore PHP Developer Blog.
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