Tips on Managing Remote Workers

While it’s ideal in terms of a project’s completion to have a big team working simultaneously around the world, the reality of doing so can make managing a project and a team that much harder.

Here are a few tips to effectively managing a remote workforce and making sure everyone is on the same page.

1. Have clear expectations and instructions.

If you’re not careful, miscommunications can arise quite often in the world of telecommuting. When it comes to assigning tasks it can be most beneficial to first explain the overarching objective of the project and then outline how you wish them to fulfill their responsibilities, and by what date. This can help cut down on timely revisions. Additionally, don’t be afraid to offer constructive criticism. Honest feedback is essential in order for a team member to reach his or her goals and continue to grow in their abilities. 

2. Be aware of the time difference.

While it’s great to have a team that works while you can’t, working with a staff in a different time zone means you have to be patient when it’s their turn to have time off. It’s up to you to walk the line between keeping them accountable by monitoring their use of time, and being realistic when it comes to setting deadlines or waiting for a response to an inquiry. Consider making a schedule everyone has access to so the whole team knows when they can and cannot reach each other, and implement a system for reporting what tasks were done when.

3. Be inclusive and offer incentives.

It’s just as important that your remote staff feels appreciated and in the loop as your onsite staff does. Rewarding them for going the extra mile and getting their opinion every once in a while will ensure that they are as invested in the outcome of the project as you are no matter how far away they are.

4. Keep a standard of professionalism.

Communicating online in today’s world has become increasingly relaxed. However, it’s still worthwhile to communicate with your remote staff in a way that shows leadership and respect. This is business after all and your employees will be less likely to slack off if they are held to a higher standard of conducting it.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

The Top 3 Locations for Outsourcing Software Development

Outsourcing software development has become an increasingly popular path for startups and small businesses alike. Instead of taking on the overhead of hiring employees in house, utilizing a remote workforce allows you to focus on your core business functions while growing at an affordable rate.

When it comes to outsourcing, there are a myriad of options available. One can opt to go Offshore, Nearshore or Onshore in terms of finding a remote workforce. Countries farther away are Offshore, those nearby are considered Nearshore, and Onshore means operating within your own country. Depending on your company’s origin, there are many pros and cons that come with selecting a specific location to outsource your software development needs.

While the U.S. and Canada each have tech reliant economies, the cost associated with doing business there tends to be higher and the demand for skilled workers has resulted in a shortage. Therefore, most businesses are left with the option to take advantage of the resources of a more global market. Here are the top 3 countries for software development in terms of quality and cost:

Latin America

While many South American countries including Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia are becoming increasingly adept in the tech world, Costa Rica is a popular choice when outsourcing software development work. Their top notch IT programs produce good programmers and their culture has embraced innovation in technology as well as the agile methodology of project management. 

Asia

While India and the Philippines are known for their IT services, China is the leader when it comes to the outsourcing industry in Asia. China produces twice as many graduates as the United States, and as a result has a vast tech advanced work force. Coupled with it’s growing economy, China is a hot bed for outsourcing software development tasks. 

Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe, Poland and the Ukraine dominate the field of outsourced software development work. Both have an abundance of educated software engineers as a result of rich STEM educational programs. 

Before outsourcing your company’s software development, you’ll want to properly vet each agency to ensure a high quality of work. Take language, cultural barriers and possible travel expenses into account as well. Countries with a stable and supportive government offer a more favorable business climate to operate in, and a difference in time zone could reduce the time to market or make communication difficult. 

At Number8, we help businesses optimize their operations with onshore, nearshore, and offshore outsourcing. Our teams–both foreign and domestic– provide effective communication and service that allow your business to grow at a rate that keeps up with your market. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

IT Job Prospects in 2019 and Beyond

As we kick start the New Year, many of us are looking to see how we can adapt and evolve our current skill set to better fit the future job market. Innovations like the cloud and artificial intelligence are transforming business operations as we know it and when it comes to careers in software and information technology in general, job opportunities are growing at a pace unmatched in other industries.

If you’re on the hunt for a new prospect, here are a few of the jobs and career sectors in tech that we anticipate to be the most in demand in 2019.

Business Intelligence Analysts & Data Scientists

Data is king and companies are now collecting it more than ever before. However, in order to best utilize the data that is being gathered, business’s of all kinds will need someone who is able to understand and see the patterns within it. Business intelligence analysts and or data scientists help process data and communicate trends to stakeholders in order to keep up with competitors, as well as grow and cut costs. These personnel typically bring to the table experience in analytics and reporting.

Security Specialists

While careers in security are certainly not a new addition to the job market, they remain an important component in software and IT.  From new finger and eye scanning procedures to the development of drones, security professionals are tasked with protecting customer data and company assets from sophisticated attacks and threats. As technology is implemented at every level of daily activities, it’s crucial that companies make doing business safe and transparent. Those looking to grow in the field of cyber-security must be knowledgeable of current compliance laws and regulations.

Developers & Engineers

Advancements in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, augmented and virtual reality as well as robotics and automation are vastly reshaping the job market in many industries. While most fear a loss of jobs looming, the integration of these applications makes way for more developers and engineers. From the Internet of Things to 3D printing of artificial limbs, there are a wide range of career possibilities available to those with a deep understanding of machine learning and complex algorithms.

Cloud Architects & Engineers

As more companies transition to storing and accessing files online, managing the cloud and hybrid systems alike are becoming a prominent responsibility in doing business. Cloud architects and engineers are in charge of developing, maintaining and supporting IT cloud systems and therefore need a wealth of programming and security skills.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in agile product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

How To Design Your Office to Be More Productive

Where you work is just as important as what you do. Office designs have come a long way since the early 20th century and are still changing year to year. What makes for a productive office environment? There are plenty of details, both big and small, that can contribute to office productivity or create a distracting environment. From the lighting to the desk layout to the color of the walls, the environment you’re in is important for your success at work.

Open office space designs have received a recent uptick in popularity. The open design is thought to enable users to be more collaborative. It is also thought that open spaces prevent employees from slacking off due to the visual accountability they are held to. However, for some, open office spaces are seen as distracting and chaotic. There are plenty of companies out there who stick to the cubicle set-up or closed door offices and that method works for them. While it has been proven that office design affects employee productivity, the design of the space itself isn’t actually as important as the details within the design. There are certain aspects of the office environment higher ups should be paying attention to if they want to improve productivity.

Design Details That Influence Office Productivity

1. Lighting

Employees spend 8-10 hours a day in their office environment, so it is crucial that the office is adequately lit. Working in a well-lit area reduces eye strain, headaches, fatigue, and irritability. In a recent study, it was proven that productivity increases as much as 16% when employees are placed in a well-lit workspace.

2. Ventilation

Just like lighting, ventilation is another crucial detail to consider when designing a productive workspace. OSHA estimates that employers lose a total of $15 billion annually “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave” that is associated with low air quality. Installing air filters and incorporating fresh air will improve productivity, lower absences, and save the company money in the long run.

3. Color

Color is a huge part of office design and picking the right colors to incorporate can effect productivity levels. Blue is a color proven to increase productivity. Orange is another color that promotes energy, so it is often used on office walls. If blue and orange are not colors you prefer, a study from the University of Massachusetts shows that incorporating any color in office design promotes creativity and improves morale.

4. Office Furniture

Of course, it is important that the desks and chairs in your office look nice and appear professional. However, it is more important that your employee’s desk spaces fit their bodies correctly. There are a few quick checks you can do to make sure a desk space is ergonomic including:

  • Eyes are two to three feet from the computer screen.
  • The top of the monitor is at eye-level or slightly below it.
  • Feet are resting on the floor or a footrest.
  • A chair that can be adjusted for height and recline to relieve spinal pressure.

5. Temperature

It is a common misconception that a colder office is a more productive environment. Most offices are kept around 66 degrees for this reason. In all actuality, a warmer office environment can lead to increased productivity. A study from Cornell linked “warm offices to fewer typing errors and higher productivity”. The study also determined that an ideal office temperature is between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

These five design details are a great place to start for those looking to make their office spaces more productive. Regardless of where you work, consider lighting, air quality, your desk area, and how you’re physically feeling. If you are going through a phase of being less productive than normal a slight switch up may help.

Unexpectedly Losing a Key Team Member- How to Keep Things Moving Along

It happens to the best of us. Things go wrong in business, sometime the best employees quit, and it can be hard for any team to move on.

Preparing for the loss of a leader is good practice to ensure that things get back up and running as smoothly as as possible, as soon as possible, should such a situation befall your company. Here’s how to handle the unexpected exit of a key employee, and minimize any disruption to the day to day operations.

1. Decide privately who is going to fill what role before breaking the news to the rest of the team.

Take the time to fully evaluate the company’s needs and explore all the options available. Whether you decide to promote internally or take the time to find an externally qualified candidate, having a clear direction and temporary solution in place will help prevent a drop in morale and overall productivity.

2. Tell everyone at the same time so they all receive the same information.

Clear communication is necessary in order to avoid inaccuracies and gossip from spreading around the office and instill a sense of leadership.

3. Remain positive and grateful for the lost team member’s contribution.

While everyone is essentially replaceable, you want your remaining team members to feel valued and supported professionally as well as personally. Exhibiting excitement for the lost employee’s success, even if it’s not with you, not only prevents future turnover, it leaves the door open for opportunities yet to come.

4. Conduct an exit interview.

Even though they are leaving, it’s important to find out why. This is a great moment for constructive criticism. Ask them how they would describe the culture as an employee, and what changes they would make if they could, etc. Gaining such insight allows for your team and company to improve and continue to keep employees that are integral assets.

Lastly, be prepared to offer support to your team as roles change, or take on more yourself to make up for the gap during this transition. Doing so will be key in succeeding with as well as finishing current projects.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!