The Remote Team Mindset
Published: January 23, 2022
Building a remote team it’s not like hiring freelancers!
One of the biggest offshore team building mysteries that I run across in the countless calls with business owners or support directors is — how does it work?
And I never get tired of answering that question. Or any of the questions that go along with it. Frankly, I’ve had quite a few discovery calls that were just dripping with misconceptions and misunderstandings of what it is to build a remote team here in the Philippines.
…and I do my level best to clear up any fuzzy parts.
It can be scary and uncertain to make the final decision to build a team in another country. And in some cases on the other side of the world. I totally get it. There are those I speak with who, although interested in the cost savings, immediately begin to build a wall to protect whatever it is they feel they need to protect. I can feel that apprehension in the discovery call, but in a lot of cases there is no way to sugar coat it. It wasn’t what they thought it would be. After all, we are talking about a completely different culture. Right?
It’s Not The Remote Team Culture, It’s the Mindset
By the time interested business leaders book a call with me, they have either talked to other people who have used offshore freelancers or have had some experience in the past with offshore freelancers. So, for the most part they have already overcome the fact that there will be some slight cultural differences.
But it really isn’t a huge leap since the pandemic forced everyone into virtual offices in pajama bottoms and meeting attire from the waist up. These days if you spend about three minutes scrolling through your LinkedIn feed, you’ll find a screenshot or a video of a once office bound team now in a Zoom call.Yes, there will be some changes — good changes — when you build your remote team with Telework PH. But one of the first things I tell clients that has to change is the mindset about outsourcing. If you want to build a successful offshore team you have to adopt the remote team mindset. And that is that you have to treat your remote team no differently than your team at home. The only difference is…they are on the screen.
So, A Remote Team Isn’t Like Hiring Freelancers?
Most commonly people tend to think of an outsourced team as like a group of freelancers from Upwork or Fivver that they just hand off tasks to, and check the final product when it’s completed. Or if they are using the offshore team for departments like say, customer support, that they’ll have no control over the conversations that go on between the agent and the customer.
Like I said above, the outsourced team is just like your in-office team or remote staff in your area that’s simply working from home. And you can communicate with them through Slack, Zoom, Hangouts, Meets — whatever online venue you prefer. There are multiple tools now that can bring a lot of people from a lot of places around the globe together at the same time. And it works that way with an outsourced team.
So it’s just like having agents right there on your customer support or customer service floor. You provide credentials for the agent to access the CRM and phone system, and your Western team or leadership has real-time communication with the outsourced team. Agents work eight hour shifts (nine hours with a one-hour lunch) and they go five days a week.
To drive the point home, when you build a team with Telework PH here in the Philippines, it becomes an extension of your business. But not only that, we monitor our agents’ performance, help streamline processes, even help create some if you have no processes yet in place. We get involved and using our expertise, experience, and the experience of the agents by listening to their suggestions we help you create a customer experience that will put your competition to shame. We’re not just a staffing agency.
For instance, with larger teams we recommend an Operations Manager and Team Leaders on our end. The OM will serve as your direct point of contact to cascade and manage the outsourced team on our end (attendance, performance reviews etc.). This process takes even more heavy lifting away from you, but you still retain complete control — in real-time.
Where Does Telework PH Get The Agents For My Remote Team?
Another misconception I run into a lot — more so than any, I will assume — is the idea that we retain hundreds of agents who are just waiting for work to come in. This may be true for some Virtual Assistant agencies where you buy blocks of time and the tasks are delegated out to whoever is capable. Even when VA clients first contact me they’ll ask “Do you have anyone who can…[insert task]”
The answer is always “yes” because — we don’t work that way. We source for exactly what you need. Our agents are dedicated to your account, so you have the same person or team all the time.
In the discovery call, I’ll ask you what requirements you have for your agent. Not only that, I’ll ask you about the type of personality type would be a good fit for you. Then I pass that all on to our recruiting department, along with your business model. Then we source talent and skill based on what you’re looking for. Our recruiting also does a battery of tests (see image below).
We want to make sure that the agents sourced to help work with you and be the frontline to your customers is the best fit possible. We go that extra mile and take that little extra time to make sure that we are matching the personalities.
How Should I Start?
If you’ve never outsourced before or worked with an overseas team it’s perfectly OK to start simple. In fact, I encourage it. I highly recommend when building a large team, to interview a few candidates and get to know them, just as you would with an in-house staff. By starting slow, you’ll have the time to get comfortable with how the process of outsourcing and building the team works. Then you can start to delegate more tasks and responsibilities.
Then once you see how everything works you can scale up and add more agents and build that team. The original agents can be The Pioneers. They will master the processes and learn everything about your company culture, eventually taking on the leadership positions I mentioned earlier. Some may even become QA or floorwalkers adding even more layers of value to your customer experience, yet keeping it focused and streamlined at the same time.
Who Do These Agents Work For?
That’s an excellent question and I’m glad you asked. There’s a big difference between “work for” and “employed by”. The agents you choose or that we place with you are 100% dedicated to your account (and your customers). However, technically they are our employees. Which means we handle the payroll and pay them twice a month. We also handle all of their benefits and taxes. We take care of their equipment (24/7 IT), their health (24/7 nursing staff) and offer sick leave and vacation pay. That’s all on us. You are only responsible for the flat hourly rate for our services. (and any special software like CRM, phone line, company email etc.)
You are our client and we are your service provider. That extends way beyond just staffing. We take care of you, your customers, and we also go to great lengths to take care of our agents. The agents enjoy regular awards, team buildings and other perks. We truly believe that a happy staff is more productive and has a better quality of life all around.
Do My Customers Need To Know That My Remote Staff Works For Telework PH
No, absolutely not. And no one needs to ever know you are our client. We protect our clients’ privacy and identity. It’s up to you how much information you want to release to your customers. Although I personally feel if it isn’t put “out there” the negative views on outsourcing may never go away. However sometimes it can be a gamble as not everyone is as open and understanding. So, we completely understand that sometimes transparency should have it’s limits to protect the interest of the greater goal.
So, as much as we would love to have you sing our praises on social media, we are totally fine with it being our little secret. This secrecy actually also benefits us. By keeping our mouth shut, no other BPO from the Philippines will try to win you over.
Furthermore, when the agents come to work with Telework PH, they must sign an NDA. This strictly prohibits them from sharing any information…with anyone. Including their peers. Breaking these NDA’s is not only a serious violation, it is also a sin against the unwritten code of BPO workers. Once they break that code, the chances of getting hired by another BPO in the Philippines becomes extremely slim.
Hopefully this answers some of the questions you may have and will help you get into the remote team mindset.
Sound like it may be a good fit? Only one way to find out. Let’s hop in a quick discovery call and talk about your needs. No obligation.