Tech companies had been among the first to integrate remote work and hire remote developers on a permanent basis far before the pandemic hit. So by now, many of them have learned how to manage remote developers and no longer have any doubts about remote work being as productive, successful, and collaborative as office work. In fact, 73% percent of executives in the US say that shifting to remote work due to the pandemic was a success.
Amazon, Adobe, and Facebook had planned for their employees to work remotely only until COVID-19 subsided. Meanwhile, Shopify and Slack have committed to transitioning to remote work for good.
Given the situation, qualified dedicated developers have never been in higher demand. What will be the best ways to hire remote developers in 2021? How to manage remote developers? What tools for remote teams do you need to set up a smooth remote collaboration? We’ve outlined the answers based on our 15+ years of experience in building remote development teams for our clients.
How to Hire Remote Developers?
Before you dive into headhunting, take a careful look at your existing team and discuss short-term and long-term project goals with them. This is necessary to clearly define or redefine the scope of work and decide how many remote developers you need, full-time or part-time, permanently or temporarily.
Four ways to hire a remote development team:
- Hire independent contractors/freelancers
- Hire remote developers through a team augmentation service provider
- Outsource the whole project to a vendor
- Establish your own remote R&D center
Options 3 and 4 work best for large companies with large projects and predictable requirements. We’ve discussed them in our past article:
In this post, we’ll be focusing on the first two options.
How to Hire a Remote Development Team Through a Team Augmentation Service Provider?
In the most basic terms, the role of a team augmentation service provider is to find and hire a remote development team for a client and place them at the provider’s office. The team can vary in size depending on the client’s needs. The provider takes care of all the administrative and legal issues including recruitment, payroll, taxes, sick days, and benefits for the developers.
Similarly to your local software engineers, the remote developers hired by a team extension provider work on your product only and are an integral part of your in-house team. You can manage your remote developers with the methods and tools you like and come to visit them whenever you want to, while your team extension service provider will manage all organizational matters.
The Benefits of Hiring a Remote Development Team Through a Team Extension Service Provider:
- Reliable and long-term collaboration
Team extension model guarantees the ultimate engagement of each remote developer. They treat the client as their employer and work exclusively for them.
- High level of security
The service provider takes all necessary precautions to keep your data, network, and remote employees secure. The provider’s offices are equipped with access control systems, and your team is supported by system administrators and information security officers. Additional security measures can be taken depending on your needs.
- Possibility to hire just one developer or an entire team
Usually, you can increase or decrease the number of your remote developers with only one month’s prior notice. A team extension service provider will help you find and hire as many developers as you need — from just one developer to an entire cross-functional team.
- Payment only after you hire a remote developer
The main benefit of working with a team extension service provider is that they hire developers exclusively for your project and provide them with comfortable workstations. You as the client won’t have to pay a cent until the tech specialist that fully meets your requirements starts working for you.
- No administrative hassles
While you’re comfortably managing your team using the tools and processes you’re used to, the provider will take care of retention, payroll, and paperwork.
The Process of Hiring a Remote Development Team Through a Team Extension Provider:
1. Describe your needs
You share your business needs, desired team structure, and job descriptions. The team extension service provider will browse through their local database and hand-pick remote developers that match your requirements best.
2. Interview and hire remote developers
You receive a list of hand-picked candidates, review their CVs, and interview them directly. The team extension service provider arranges as many interview rounds as necessary to make sure that you hire those remote developers that perfectly fit you.
3. Start working
Once you’ve made the hiring decision, the team extension service provider handles payroll, taxes, employee records, vacations, sick days, and other administrative hassles to ensure you can focus on your core competencies and run your remote team without distractions.
4. Get ongoing support
To help you hire a remote development team and build an open and productive relationship with them, a team extension vendor provides a dedicated HR/Client Manager who is always in contact with both you and the team and ready to proactively solve any communication issues.
How to Hire Remote Developers as Freelancers?
Freelancers are part of the contingent workforce. Unlike temporary employees, freelancers are not employed by any company or staffing firm. These remote workers are independent professionals who typically work on a project-by-project basis.
It’s important to note that freelancers are self-employed individuals who function as a one-person business. They typically pay self-employment taxes, set their own rates, work remotely from whichever location they prefer, and choose which projects and clients they want to work with.
Why do global companies hire freelancers?
In 2020 many companies have already taken advantage of the new norm of working remotely to engage top tech talent. Hiring remote developers as freelancers is a good choice for companies that want a highly-skilled tech expert to work for them temporarily. Google, for one, has hired so many freelancers in recent years that they now outnumber full-time employees.
The Benefits of Hiring Remote Developers as Freelancers
For US companies, hiring freelancers reduces the cost by around 30–40%. Besides being a cost-effective way of cooperation, hiring remote developers as freelancers also provides access to the global pool of talent. For remote developers, in return, it’s a great opportunity to work on interesting projects with the best companies around the world and earn at least 30% more than what’s offered for similar roles locally.
Here are the main pros and cons of hiring remote developers as freelancers:
- Due to years of experience across multiple organizations, freelancers are exceptionally good at adapting to new conditions, jumping into projects without much hesitation, and delivering results fast.
- Their varied experience can also provide insights and fresh perspectives that may improve overall project outcomes.
- You won’t have to give them any job-related benefits like insurance, equipment, gym memberships, etc.
- Usually, you can easily stop cooperation as soon as you no longer need it.
- Freelancers can work with multiple clients simultaneously, and this multi-focused environment can result in poor task performance.
- Freelancers are harder to control and less loyal.
- They come with their own terms (which most likely include more freedom in terms of when and where they work).
- It’s unlikely that a freelancer will want to stick around in the long run, so you might find yourself looking for someone new more often than you’d like to.
Why freelancing isn’t that popular among remote development job seekers
For many companies, hiring remote developers as freelancers sounds easy. Why not? It’s fast and often cheaper. All you have to do is to set up recurring payments and... that's admin done!
With this line of thinking, some companies wind up just wiring money to their freelance team members and expecting them to sort out local laws and regulations by themselves. Because of that, remote contractors often feel dissatisfied as they don't get the local benefits that come with employment (healthcare, retirement, unemployment benefits, equity, etc.).
What aspects should you consider while searching for remote developers as freelancers?
Another aspect of hiring remote developers as freelancers you need to consider is the recruitment itself.
You or your HR managers will likely use LinkedIn, remote developer hiring platforms, or development communities to look for talent.
Before you start your search in any given country, make sure to research the local market in terms of:
- tech talent pool size and availability of the desired skills
- average developer salaries
- time zone difference with your country
- cultural fit
Being well-equipped with this type of knowledge of the country will let you adjust your search tactics accordingly. For example, Ukraine’s remote development market is very dynamic. Experienced developers are in high demand and in most cases they have a number of job offers to choose from. Therefore, if you delay your hiring decision, e.g. due to a time-consuming internal approval chain, you can end up losing the chosen candidate to a competitor.
Developer Hiring Platforms. Where Can You Hire Developers Online?
The most effective way to hire developers online is through developer hiring platforms. Here’s a list of the most commonly used platforms to hire developers online:
- We Work Remotely
- Working Nomads
- Remote OK
- The Muse
- Remote Work Hub
- Remotely Awesome Jobs
- Go Remote Jobs
- Work in Startups
Developer communities, such as Github, Hacker News, and StackOverflow also have job boards. This means that you can put your job posting right where the potential candidates will see it, even if they’re not actively looking for a job.
Freelance marketplaces such as TopTal and Upwork are also popular developer hiring platforms. However, there’s a huge difference between a freelancer and a full-time remote team member. There are multiple risks in hiring freelance developers, including confusing and time-consuming selection processes, doubtful quality of work, a lack of engagement and commitment to the project, language/cultural differences, missed deadlines, security risks, and more.
How to Hire Remote Developers in 2021: 5 Things to Consider
1. Project Complexity
Is the project complex and long-term?
The more complex your software development project is, the more remote developers you’ll probably need, either hiring them all at once as a team or scaling up gradually.
As the number of developers you need gets larger, a well-established collaboration can guarantee higher quality results. For this reason, you should consider hiring a whole remote development team with the help of a team extension service provider that offers retention services and can function as a mediator between you and your remote developers should a conflict or a misunderstanding arise.
2. Technical Expertise
Do you have an in-house specialist that has the technical background to supervise and manage the development process?
If you already have technical expertise on your side and you just need to hire a few remote developers for a limited and well-defined scope of work under your control, then hiring freelancers is likely to fit your needs.
If you’re lacking technical expertise in-house, then your option is to hire a remote development team through a team extension service provider. The provider can build a cross-functional development team that will include a tech lead with the required technical expertise.
3. Information Security Requirements
Does your project have any sensitive information that should be protected?
Hiring a remote developer through freelancer portals doesn’t provide you any guarantee that the freelance developer will handle your data safely. You can never know for sure how your contractors protect their devices when it comes to firewall management, network security, vulnerability scanning, anti-malware, or endpoint security.
Meanwhile, hiring remote developers through a team extension service provider ensures that all the necessary steps in regards to information security are taken care of.
4. Management Style
Do you want to deal with admin tasks?
You should decide whether you want to manage your remote developers directly, control the workload, prioritize their tasks and also take care of remuneration, sick leaves, and other administrative aspects. If you’re ready to cover all these roles, you can opt for hiring remote developers as freelancers.
However, if you still want to be the one to decide how to manage remote developers but you don’t want to bother with administrative issues, then you should look closer at hiring remote developers through a team extension service provider. The latter will take care of staff retention, administration, and pretty much everything else so you can focus solely on software development.
Do you want your remote developers to become an integral part of your company?
Many companies that go for hiring remote developers, particularly for long-term cooperation, want to integrate them into their in-house team as deeply as possible. This ensures closer collaboration and dedication of the remote workers, as well as a better understanding of your project and business needs.
If this is something you’re interested in too, you should definitely consider working through a team extension vendor. This way, you’re far more likely to find remote developers that will be truly interested in working with you and not jump from one client to another (which is often the case with freelancers).
How to Manage Remote Developers?
In order to know how to manage remote developers, you should consider the needed collaboration methodology, possible communication channels, and tools for remote developers.
Managing remote development teams is nothing complicated if you carefully address the five core aspects of remote collaboration: methodology, productivity, communication, culture, and leadership.
Agile is a proven methodology for managing remote developers. It allows to make the development process more efficient by minimizing expenses and lowering risks during implementation.
The most popular frameworks are Agile Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), and Kanban.
Measuring productivity can be quite tricky while managing remote teams. Working from home has a lot of advantages, but it certainly isn’t a walk in the park. It takes a very specific set of skills to be productive outside an office environment where the sense of accountability is typically higher, and watching Netflix instead of working is hardly an option.
- Flexible hours
Your remote developers will appreciate some flexibility in working hours and, for sure, you should allow it to some extent. However, don’t allow too much freedom either as you’ll end up having trouble every time you need to gather the whole team for a sync-up call.
- Time tracking
Time tracking is easy in an office environment where you can see who is coming in every day even if you’re not tracking attendance. However, when managing remote teams, you can’t expect to exercise the same amount of control.
Of course, establishing a trusting relationship from day one and fostering an environment of personal responsibility is always best. If you manage to do that, you won’t need to bother with time tracking. However, if you do feel the need to track work time, there’s plenty of virtual time tracking systems. They allow you to see what tasks your remote team members are working on (in real-time) and which websites or apps they’re using.
- Outlining and measuring deliverables
Articulate the key indicators of success to each remote team member and ensure they clearly understand what you expect from them. And don’t forget to write everything down. Then make one-to-one sync-ups (at least on a weekly basis) to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Depending on your needs, switch between different communication tools for remote teams:
Use email for quick interactions, requests, and approvals.
- Chat programs
Skype or Google Hangouts are great for instant messages and real-time interaction.
- Video chat
It can feel isolating and abnormal to chat only via text. Adding video will make your remote team members feel more real.
- Project management tools
This is a must-have for keeping tasks and communication organized. Refer to it when you need the full picture of the project as well as the individual tasks it consists of.
- Ensure work-life balance
Create a culture of “reasonable expectations.” Expect the typical 40 hours a week, but don’t reward those putting in more. Make sure everyone is pacing themselves.
Be on the lookout for team members who are overworking themselves and intervene to avoid burnout or faulty work. Set the tone by not overworking yourself either.
- Unite your in-house and remote teams around your company’s values
Promote a culture of openness, trust, and transparency. Build a remote software team where developers have an opportunity to communicate their vision, influence critical decisions, and keep track of the latest product updates.
- Do regular one-on-one check-ins. Keep it casual and stick to small vs. large updates that would otherwise require a formal meeting.
- Share your future vision of the company.
- Keep your team updated about how the company is doing. People like to know the full gist of what’s going on and to feel that they contribute to the company's success.
Find out how to hire remote developers.