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How to best manage remote workers and teams

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Outsourcing has a lot of benefits for ecommerce merchants. Whether you’re working on how to start a furniture store, sell ebooks, cosmetics or electronics online, you can get talented assistance without incurring many of the costs associated with hiring dedicated employees. This will allow you to scale your operations at minimal cost until you can hire full time people—some of whom might even be outsourced talent that helped you along the way. Either way, the trick to being successful is having a plan for efficiently managing outsourced workers.

Here are some tips to help you in that regard.

Set clearly defined goals

When people work remotely, it’s important to ensure they’re clear on the result you need them to achieve. While you’d be specific about this in any employer/employee situation, you need to be doubly so when you’re communicating with remote workers.

Ideally, you can provide them with a tangible sample of what you’re trying to achieve so they have a model after which they can pattern their work. You also want to make sure they’re clear on your processes, your company culture and the customers they’re serving. Additionally, establish definitive milestones by which you can measure progress and adjust workflows to meet them if needed.

Strive to keep everyone on the same page

Providing step-by-step instructions will help ensure your standards are met. The aim here is to safeguard accuracy and effectiveness. Toward this end, provide as much background information as possible, so your workers understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, as well as why it needs to be done in a fashion. With that said, also be open to suggestions. They may have encountered a more efficient method than the one you’re applying so keep an open mind.

Keep files updated

Using cloud-based project management software and working files will keep everyone acting on the most current information. Create a master file, the sections of which are accessible only by people working on specific aspects of the project. This way you can be certain everyone gets all the changes they need to see in real time. This also saves your crew the trouble of having to track down information to be sure what they’re seeing is the most current version.

Conduct regular synchronization meetings

Depending upon the nature of the project, the speed at which it’s moving and its overall complexity, meetings might need to be daily, weekly or monthly. Whatever your situation requires, make it a point to review all aspects of where everyone is in their assignments. Measure progress by the milestones you established and be prepared to adjust keep things on track.

Respect time differences

When scheduling meetings for a far-flung group of people, try to find a time at which everyone can call in without being too inconvenienced. Expecting anyone to retain information you deliver at 3:00 a.m. in their time zone is folly.

Furthermore, demonstrating this to be a concern raises your esteem in the eyes of your outsourced team. It says you care about their lives, which makes them more likely to care about yours too. Meanwhile, if they’re up and working during their normal business hours and it’s 3:00 a.m. where you are, you’re making progress in your sleep. You must be happy about that.

Treat people like people

A little personal respect goes a long way. Use video chats whenever possible so you can put names with faces. Remember, the sweetest sound for any person in any language is the sound of his or her own name. Use them when you address people and do everything you can to make their interactions with you are as personable as possible. Give praise where praise is due and always express your appreciation for their efforts. When corrections are needed, be forgiving and respectfully remind them of the requirements.

When it comes down to it, managing outsourced workers isn’t really a whole lot different than managing in-house people. Respect, consideration and praise are valuable currency in all interpersonal exchanges.

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