How do you build a remote team?

BuildI’ve worked with remote teams for a few years. Some of the freelancers were great, some were OK and of course, some of them helped me get some grey hair. I’ve discovered a process which help you evaluate the freelancer pretty fast. You need to focus on a few significant signs and behavior patterns which tell you a lot about anyone. But before I tell you a bit more about it, let’s step back and start with helping you to determine what do you need from your freelancers and how to search for them.

1. Define your needs

When you want to build a website or a mobile application, you will very likely need more than just one freelancer. Or someone, who has the complete team. Why? You need a nice and sexy design and a working application. Such project includes more tasks

  • design
  • copywriting
  • programming
  • testing
  • team management

So before you start searching for the team, define your needs and the tasks which you will do. If you do them, you need to take yourself as the freelancer and stick to the agreed schedule with the team. Why should they do so, if you don’t look like someone who cares about it much.

2. Find the right guys

Now it’s time to go online and find the right professionals for the team. If you don’t know where to start and want to see many different options, type “find freelancers” into Google. If you want to save time, go to Elance. It’s a portal which helps you find freelancers from all around the world. Including the very cheap ones from Asia and pretty expensive ones from Scandinavia, UK, or USA.

You need to create your account and then post the job, you need to have done. It’s pretty likely, that you get many proposals, so choose one and let them do the job. Right, how would you choose? I’ll come back to that later. An important thing about posting the job is, that it needs a description, which tells the freelancers more details, and also a bit about yourself. Again, if you post something like “I want a social network similar to Facebook” or “I need a mobile app like Instagram”, you will look like you don’t really know what you want and you don’t care much. Good freelancers will unlikely give you any proposal. Or maybe send a list of questions.

3. Start with a Skype call

This really helps, because it breaks the ice. You will also get the idea how well do the team members speak English. Just realize, that perfect English doesn’t mean a perfect freelancer and the other way around. Be prepared to speak slower, make the call easier for them. Show them, who is the client and be strict, but friendly and fair.

4. Agree the rules before you start working

I strongly recommend agreeing the rules, workflow and processes before you start working. Especially with the freelancers you work for the first time. They need to know, although they have other projects as well, that they have to meet deadlines, follow the specification properly and take you seriously. Daily reports and short 5 minute reviews are magic.

A good thing also is a small bonus. Agree on a small bonus on delivering everything perfect on time (if you have a tight deadline) and also agree on a penalty, if the product is delivered late. But let there be a few days between the bonus and penalty.

Well, I didn’t expect to write that much about how to form the team, so I’ll talk about the magic steps to evaluate freelancers in the next article. So stay tuned. In the meantime, share your experience with building the remote team. Which of the four steps above do you consider the most important?