“Remote Workers Are People with Hopes and Dreams”
The tech talent gap leads to many companies hiring IT professionals all over the world and building remote teams. F10 mentor and remote work expert Rohit Mukherjee provides the F10 Startups with guidelines on what to consider when building and managing remote teams. One of the most important aspects is showing appreciation.
Digitalization is outpacing education at all levels of IT jobs. Especially Startups often face difficulties in recruiting tech talents as they cannot offer the same benefits that international enterprises with millions of HR budget do. Most recruiters and market observers agree that the war for talent in the IT industry will not be over within the next years. Transferring software development and programming to countries with higher availability of skilled workforce has become an increasingly popular option to fill open positions in information technology. “You might not foresee yourself doing business in that region but end up building a whole team there because it is where the talents are”, F10 mentor and remote work expert Rohit Mukherjee says during the online session “Kick-Start Your Remote Product Team”.
Rohit has been building and managing remote teams for more than five years and shared his experience with the entrepreneurs in the F10 ecosystem. He started his career as software engineer at the investment advisor SigFig over five years ago. Rohit holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and participated in a student exchange program with ETH Zurich in 2014. He is one of the mentors supporting the Startups in the first batch of our P2 “Prototype to Product” program in Singapore on their journey to successful companies. One topic that always comes up as the Startups in the F10 programs grow is hiring IT professionals. In many countries, tech giants like Google, IBM or Facebook absorb a large share of developers and programmers, which makes it even more difficult for emerging Startups to hire skilled IT workforce.
Employers should facilitate culture to create a sense of belonging
“When recruiting remote workers, communicate clearly that you will be around for a while and are looking for lasting business partnerships. Share your long-term vision with applicants”, Rohit says. “Being remote does not mean ‘I don’t want to deal with you as a person’! Establishing a personal relationship with your employees is crucial. If possible, make time to meet applicants in person.” Consider both skills and personality when hiring and make sure new hires fit in with the company culture. A person who truly believes in your values and mission is invaluable. “There is a certain degree of foreignness in remote teams that might be scary in the beginning”, Rohit warns. Employers should facilitate culture to promote team spirit and create a shared identity. Create both formal and informal platforms where your remote workers can interact, exchange their know-how and get to know the rest of the team better. These platforms include online as well as offline tools. Invite the remote workers into the Slack channels used to share jokes or memes unrelated to work tasks and on the other hand, include the remote team in meetings on strategic decisions that will affect the whole company. Be considerate of the time differences and national holidays when scheduling company-wide meetings and make an effort to provide productive work environments in every location.
Rohit recommends recruiting people with experience in remote work. “They have self-discipline, are already used to the communication guidelines that come with working in a remote team, know which channels to use and how to report to line managers or team leaders in other countries.” If a new hire is not used to remote work, it might make sense to start with a contractual agreement instead of a long-term contract. Nevertheless, Rohit advises against exclusively working with freelancers. “Make sure your employees are committed to their work and the company.” Another critical aspect of managing remote teams is high accountability: “The quality of work should not be compromised.” Set clear goals and communicate your expectations clearly.
Avoid terms such as ‘outsourcing’ and ‘offshoring’
Throughout the online mentoring session, Rohit repeatedly stresses the importance of showing appreciation when building and managing remote teams: “Remote workers are people with hopes and dreams. They have good ideas – just like your on-site employees. Trust the people you have hired and embrace their unique skills and personalities. Schedule regular online or in-person interactions and develop a personal relationship with the team working for you in another country or on another continent to express your appreciation. Avoid terms such as ‘outsourcing’ or ‘offshoring’ as this implies that you are just employing a remote team to reduce costs.” Pay people what they are worth and offer remote workers the same benefits as your other employees.
Even while maintaining social distancing, F10 as THE HOME OF FINTECH brings the financial technology community together and facilitates knowledge transfer between the F10 locations Zurich and Singapore. During weekly online mentoring sessions for the Startups in the F10 ecosystem, the F10 mentors and industry experts share their insights and know-how with the entrepreneurs. Before the session on building remote teams, topics such as user-centred design, remote sales, communication during crises and challenges when scaling have been covered.