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Preparing for the Remote Work Culture

If you’re making the transition to remote work after working in an office from 9-5, 5 days a week, you’ll quickly learn a notable difference in the work culture. Whether you’re looking to work from home or are an employer wanting to outsource tasks, getting familiar with the customs of those who work remotely will help you know what to expect.

Here are 3 unwritten rules of remote work:

1. Everything starts on time.

Because you’re not sitting in traffic during your morning commute, there’s really no excuse for being late. In the remote world, meetings start on time down to the minute. One of the biggest benefits of working from home is that it allows you to better manage every minute of your day. Couple that with the fact that you could be collaborating with someone in a different time zone, and every minute really starts to count. To make sure you don’t experience a technical delay, get used to checking your equipment early each morning.

2. Communication is key.

Sure, communication is key in any work situation. But when you’re communicating with someone who isn’t sitting in the next cubicle, it becomes even more prudent. In fact, 90% of how we communicate is nonverbal, so if you’re working remotely online, it can be easy for a few things to get lost in translation. Expect to over communicate by being prompt in your responses and utilizing the many tools available to you. Remember that the tone of online communication tends to be straightforward and casual. When it applies, provide links or visual examples for full transparency. Shared calendars and collaborative applications can help to keep everyone on the same page, whether it be project deadlines, tasks or vacation days. 

3. Nurture workplace relationships.

Yes, workplace relationships are still a thing when you work from home. While they can be hard to cultivate because of language barriers and time zones, a good workplace dynamic is an invaluable asset and can help ensure a project’s success. Taking the time to build camaraderie through friendly correspondence can go a long way. When possible, opt for an in person meeting, video or phone call, and consider using a chat app for water cooler talk.

As an employer, think about implementing a remote work policy to help establish standards and keep everyone accountable. A company mission can help communicate your vision and values, and as a result keep remote employees motivated.

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!

What to Look For In a Nearshore Development Partnership

More and more throughout the United States, development work for web-based companies is moving out of the country. The reason that a company decides to look for offshore or nearshore developers is different from situation to situation. Some reasons for looking into nearshore outsourcing can include budget restrictions preventing the company from expanding in-house or office spacing being too limited to hire additional in-house developers. Regardless of the reason that a company decides to enter a nearshore development partnership, there are things to look for in the hired team.

Location

One of the main motivators behind web-based companies using nearshore outsourcing for development work is the fact that nearshore developers are usually in the same time zone as the company. If they aren’t in the same time zone, they are in a time zone with operating hours more similar to the company’s. This has a lot of benefits in regards to communication than working an outsourcing company located in India or another country on the opposite side of the world. Nearshore development partnerships are often established for this reason.

By operating in the same, or similar, business hours companies enjoy the benefit of being able to discuss problems in real time with their development counterparts. Being able to quickly address and resolve development issues results in faster turnaround times and happier clientele. When looking for a nearshore development partnership, consider the time zone potential teams are in and how that will affect your business.

Communication

When considering nearshore development companies to partner with, it is also important to consider if there will be a language barrier. While most nearshore development companies employ people who speak fluent English, some do not. Clear communication is a huge part of a successful partnership and a necessity for getting development work done quickly and correctly. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively will also affect how the business operates between the onshore employees and their counterparts. Without an open line of communication, it doesn’t really matter whether the nearshore development team is operating in the same hours as the onshore company or not. If the two teams cannot work together without a language barrier then the IT project will ultimately end up failing.

Quality

Companies searching for a nearshore development team to partner with should also assess the quality of the development team’s work. Does the team you’re considering partnering with have a portfolio of previous work they’ve done? Can they offer you statistics on how many projects they’ve successfully completed? It’s difficult to forge a successful partnership with so many miles between locations. Therefore, it is important that the team you choose for a nearshore development partnership is a strong one. Companies should trust their developers to complete projects on time and turn around workloads in a timely manner. There is nothing wrong with asking for statistics on project completions, turnaround times, and more. High quality work from a nearshore development team will be pertinent to your success as a company. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of the quality of a company’s work.

Turnover

In a recent study, the 7th Annual Conference on Information Science, Technology, and Management revealed that the turnover rate of software developers in India falls between 30 and 40 percent. In comparison, the turnover rate of Americans in the IT industry sits at 13.2%. By choosing to forge a nearshore development partnership, your entering into an IT sector with a substantially lower turnover rate. This, in turn, opens up opportunities to work with the same development team over multiple projects. Familiarity with how a team member communicates, delivers work, and executes tasks only improves project turnaround time. It also improves the business relationship, in general. Being able to establish a long-term business connection is one of the biggest benefits of a nearshore development partnership.

Deciding to enter a nearshore development partnership has its benefits and its risks. Thankfully, we feel like the benefits highly outweigh the risks. No matter how perfect a situation may seem, you will want to look at some specific metrics. If you are thinking about hiring nearshore developers to outsource some of the work at your company, be sure to ask these 12 questions before you hire anyone. For more information on outsourcing benefits, visit our blog archive to read countless articles on the benefits of a nearshore development partnership.

At Number8, we pair onshore businesses with a dynamic nearshore development team that will effectively get complete development work. Our entire team of nearshore software developers are based in  San Jose, Costa Rica. They are fully trained in agile product development and will produce the solutions your company needs to succeed. Interested in learning more? You can learn more about what we do on our website or call us at (502) 890-7665 today!

 

How Business Practices in Costa Rica Differ from Those in the United States

business practices in costa ricaBusiness, like language, varies from country to country across the world. From common practices to appropriate communication techniques, there are a lot of nuances to take into consideration when working with someone from another area. In some countries, like Japan, silence is valued over constant conversation. In others, like Germany, punctuality is preferred over flexibility. While some differences are vast, others are minor. When it comes to how business practices in Costa Rica differ from those in the United States, the differences are vast.

Costa Rica could not be much more different than the United State. From the landscape to the climate, there aren’t many similarities to be found between the two. However, both countries have growing populations with even faster-growing interests in web-based work and software development. Because of this mutual interest, Costa Rica is quickly becoming a go-to for U.S.-based companies needing nearshore development. Due to this growing interest centered around international business, it is important to understand business practices in Costa Rica and proper business etiquette.

7 Important Business Practices to Remember When Working with Costa Ricans

1. Appointments Are Always Flexible

Costa Ricans are not known for being the strictest of people when it comes to punctuality. Due to their more relaxed approach to time management, business appointments do not always start right on time. In fact, some websites who cover business practices in Costa Rica recommend bringing a book to your next meeting in case you have to wait for an extended amount of time. Due to this approach, business meetings often last longer than scheduled.

2. Consistent Reminders of Meetings Are Necessary

This differentiation between Costa Ricans and Americans stems from the Costa Rican pura vida lifestyle and their flexibility with time. Due to their busy lifestyles, Costa Rican business partners need constant reminders of pre-scheduled meetings. It is recommended to send appointment reminders a week before the meeting then two days prior to the meeting, with a final reminder going out the day of.

3. Put An Emphasis on Small Talk

Most differences between how business is done in the United States and Costa Rica stem from their pura vida lifestyle. While businesspeople in the United States often get straight to the point, Costa Ricans like to take their time. It’s important to emphasize small talk during business meetings with Costa Ricans. Speaking on topics like the weather, general news, or the latest sports scores are completely acceptable and welcome.

4. Networking is Highly Important

When compared to the United States, the population of Costa Rica is small. With only 5 million people in the country, networking plays a huge role in business growth. It’s important to get out there and discuss current business ventures and possible future business endeavors with the community. The small, tight-knit community can open up partnerships and opportunities with fellow businesspeople that may have gone unnoticed without networking. Due to the closeness of the Costa Rican community, and the importance of networking, it is crucial that you keep your comments respectful and your intentions honest.

5. Business Attire is Still Preferred in Professional Settings

Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches and lush jungles may lead you to think that casual attire is acceptable throughout the country; however, the opposite is true in a business setting. Despite their laid back lifestyles, Costa Ricans still hold looking professional to high regard. Men are often found in dress pants paired with long sleeve shirts. Most opt for a jacket over a tie, unlike businessmen in the United States. Women’s wardrobe choices vary from business suits to more fanciful dresses, with plenty of accessories, depending on the event.

6. Titles Are Very Important To Costa Ricans

Titles are very important to Costa Ricans, especially those that hold professional or political titles. While professional titles are important to businesspeople in the United States, too, the titles of Costa Ricans differ greatly. Costa Rican men use both their father’s and mother’s names in correspondence, but only use their father’s names when introducing themselves. While businesspeople in the United States often have one surname and are fine with being called by their first name, in Costa Rica one must be invited to refer to the other by their first name. It is even seen as rude to call a Costa Rican by their first name without being invited to do so.

7. Negotiations Will Take Time

Business decisions are expected to take longer in Costa Rica than they are in the United States. This is because business decisions are made between all involved parties within the business which means there is a lot of bureaucracy to navigate. Additionally, because of the close community of networkers, business decisions and negotiations are often made over dinner, in a more relaxed environment, which can stretch out the process.

While Costa Rica is not on the other side of the world, business culture in Costa Rica is quite different when compared to the United States. With the more relaxed approach to time management and decision making, Costa Ricans do business at a slower pace. The close-knit community throughout the country means that there is a personal level to the business whereas there is often a strict line between business and personal life in the United States. Despite the differences, partnerships between businesses in the United States and Costa Rica continue to thrive in web-based work and software development.

At Number8, we connect businesses in the United States looking for development work with nearshore developers based in Costa Rica. We focus on assisting companies with improving their internal IT processes to ensure smoother business for everyone. If you are interested in learning more about what we do at Number8, give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

6 Tips to Help You Nail A Remote Job Interview

remote job interviewIn 2019, more and more companies are hiring remote workers in addition to an in-house team or making the shift to exclusively employing remote workers. With this shift in the hiring process comes a shift in the interviewing process as well. Regardless of how comfortable you are with face-to-face interviews, a remote job interview is a completely different experience.

While being at home can be a comfort, it can also cause you to let your guard down. This can translate to lack of motivation or lack of preparedness in a remote interview environment. There are other factors that should be considered when interviewing remotely that aren’t present at an in-house interview. Some factors include background noise, technical difficulties, and outside distractions. Because the differences between an in-house interview and remote job interview are so vast, we thought you may like some tips to help you nail your next remote job interview.

6 Tips to Help You Nail a Remote Job Interview

1. Prepare Your Interview Area

It is important to look professional during a remote job interview just as you would for an in-house interview. While your clothing would reflect your level of professionalism face-to-face, the area in which you conduct a remote interview reflects that. Be sure your interview area is clean, organized, and does not reflect poorly on you as a potential hire.

It is also important to ensure that you will not have any distractions during your interview. If you have children, try to set up a play date so they are out of the house. If you have neighbors close by, ensure that your home’s windows are closed to prevent a nearby lawn mower from causing a distraction.

2. Dress Appropriately

Despite the fact that you are interviewing from home and may only be visible from the waist up, it is important to dress appropriately for a remote job interview. Getting ready for a remote job interview in the same way you would for an in-house interview will help you get into a professional mindset. More often that not, a confidence boost also comes with getting ready. By dressing appropriately, you also prevent any embarrassment from occurring should you have to get up during your interview.

3. Research Your Potential Employer

An interview, despite the location, works two ways. It’s a chance for your potential employer to learn more about you and it’s also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company you may one day work for. Research the company’s beginnings, recent news surrounding the company, and the person who is going to be interviewing you. By having some knowledge of the company on hand, you will look well prepared and interested in your potential employer. This knowledge will also make conversation around the company flow more naturally.

4. Take Care to Prepare Your Computer

There is nothing worse than being late to a remote interview or having your computer crash mid-interview. Prior to your interview be sure that you’ve downloaded and done a trial run of the interviewing software. Set the window that you will be viewing your potential employers through at the top of your screen, centered under your webcam. This positioning helps to give the impression that you are making eye contact with your potential employer instead of looking down throughout the interview. Ensure there are no programs running in the background that could cause your computer to lag and that all your chat features are turned off, so no pop-ups appear during your interview.

5. Prepare Your Own Questions

As we stated in our third tip, a job interview is every bit a chance for you to learn more about your potential employer as it is for them to learn more about you. Come into your interview with a prepared list of questions. These questions may revolve around why the company is looking for remote work, what benefits they offer to their remote employees, and how they will work with you to ensure you’re trained correctly for the job while working out of office. You can also ask questions surrounding how many employees currently work remotely for your potential employer, what sort of tools they use to promote collaboration between in-house and remote team members, and if there are potential group meetings or team building experiences that you should expect to be a part of.

6. Explain Your Motivation for Wanting to Work Remotely

For a lot of people, working from home seems like an easy way to get work done without having to do much work; however, remote work is quite the opposite. Not being in a designated work environment can make it harder to stay focused and on-task. It is important to make it clear to your potential employer that you are a motivated individual who is prepared to successfully work remotely. Perhaps you want to work remotely because you need a more flexible schedule. Perhaps you’re the type of person who works better in an area away from office distractions.

Whatever the reason, it is important to explain your motivation from wanting to work remotely. Do not treat it as the elephant in the room. Instead, tackle it early on and own it fully. Confidence and honesty will help potential employer see that you’re serious and would be an asset to the company.

Remote interviews can be intimidating, like in-house interviews, which is why it is so important to prepare for them. By following our six tips above, you should be off to a strong start during your next remote job interview. In the end, confidence and preparedness are the two most important factors to nailing a job interview. With these six tips, we hope you’ll be more prepared and more confident about interviewing from a remote location.

At Number8, we know quite a bit about hiring remotely with our nearshore location in San Jose, Costa Rica. With over 18 years of experience in the field of software development, our experience spans across many sectors. We commit to recruiting and hiring IT professionals who show immense talent and developers with vast experience. Learn more about who we are and see what job opportunities we currently have available.

3 Things That Set Number8 Apart

With so many options for IT consulting and agile software development, why choose Number8?

1. We offer a blended model.

At Number8, we offer all the benefits of typical offshore tech support with nearshore capabilities. Our headquarters are based out of Louisville, Kentucky and we have technical professionals throughout the U.S. We also have more than 100 associates in a total of six countries including our offshore team in Latin America and nearshore office location in San Jose, Costa Rica. Whether the need is local or can be handled off-site, we are able to work with our U.S. clients in their timezone and language with the best possible mix of development assistance.

2. We treat our employees differently.

It’s our mission at Number8 to give our associates and IT contractors the opportunity to develop a rewarding and challenging career while enjoying the best possible work-life balance. We pride ourselves on our employee retention rate and value building long term partnerships with our clients as a result of it.

We also understand just how important family is and the ability to have a flexible work schedule is a major benefit of working remotely. For example, one of our Junior Developers John Lewis, who came onboard about a year ago, has recently decided to shared his story with the Number8 family. After the passing of his wife last April, he now lives in Costa Rica with his three children.

“N8 is an incredibly unique company and I think that comes from its foundations. The entire team as well as my clients have been incredibly supportive during what has been a depressive period for me. I couldn’t work for a month, and though I thought I would lose my job I didn’t. I can’t even count the number of times someone has asked me if I needed anything. Though Christmas was particularly hard for us, as it was my wife’s favorite holiday and our gifts from the U.S. were stuck in customs, Number8 surprised us again. Literally the only things under the tree were the gifts that Number8 gave to my children. I am so grateful to Number8 for all the resources that they’ve put at my disposal. I honestly cannot express it any more because it is so emotional for me. To everyone who has supported me, I can’t say thank you enough.”

3. We are experienced in a breadth of programming languages.

Having been in the custom software development business for several years, our professionals specialize in a full range of programming languages and skill sets including:

-Microsoft .Net     -ASP.Net     -Javascript     -LINQ Visual Studio

-C++/C#         -MySQL       -Oracle       -OO Development

-Microsoft SQL Server        -Ruby         -Agile Development and Scrum.

Additionally, we do a considerable amount of Java development, and a lot of front-end development using javascript MVC frameworks like Angular, Knockout, Ember and Backbone. We also have software development teams working in PHP (Aura, Yii, Zend, Laravel, Symfony, Phalcon, CodeIgniter, Cake).

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in 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 give us a call at (502) 890-7665.

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!

Business Process Outsourcing Most Startups Should Consider

Sometimes hiring full time employees can actually slow you down and prevent your business from growing. That’s why so many startups are looking to business process outsourcing for help. Instead of bogging employees down with clerical work, outsourcing could enable your organization to grow faster by focusing it’s talent more on the core of the business.

What is business process outsourcing?

Business process outsourcing (BPO) involves contracting out certain operations and responsibilities that either take place in the back or the front office to a third party.

Responsibilities such as billing, human resources, and finance usually make up the back office or internal business functions of a company. Back office contracted work encompasses the following: purchasing, payment processing, insurance, retirement, hiring and recruiting, accounting, payroll, and general bookkeeping.

Marketing, administrative duties, as well as tech and customer support, are operations usually performed by the front office. These are more external, customer and client related business functions. Any social media, telemarketing, app testing, help desk support, customer interaction via phone or email, scheduling, and data entry that needs to be done would entail front office outsourcing.

Companies can outsource to a variety of locations.

Offshore outsourcing occurs outside a company’s country, nearshore outsourcing is in a neighboring country, and onshore outsourcing happens within one’s own country but out of the state. There are pros and cons depending on the location of the contractor. For example, a dollar can go further in other countries, but time zones and language barriers may prove problematic. 

BPO is a popular startup growth hack in that it saves valuable time and money.

Outsourcing to skilled and flexible personnel allows a burgeoning business to build a team as they need to. This is ideal when compared to time spent searching for and interviewing the right candidates. Contractors are also flexible in regards to workload.  Additionally, they are an affordable solution in terms of benefits and the costs of training as well. Obtaining remote workers through an agency means they are already qualified and require less of a financial investment. 

Both back and front office functions are integral to keeping any company running smoothly. By outsourcing business processing, tasks can be completed with the utmost speed and efficiency. 

At Number8, we help fast growing companies find quality remote workers that creatively contribute to your business’s success. 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!

7 Mistakes to Avoid Working with Remote Employees

remote employeesThe modern office is more than four walls and a parking lot. With the help of technology, a team can reach all corners of the world and still connect in order to create a product or service that helps a company reach its goals. Of course, collaborating with remote employees is a pretty novel endeavor. There is plenty of room for miscommunications and hiccups that can stall a project’s progress. When working with remote employees, it’s best to anticipate possible issues before they come up so you know how to address them just in case.

Here is some of our favorite advice on mistakes to avoid when working with remote employees.

1. Not Having an Onboarding Process

Your onboarding process sets the tone for every employee and informs them of your goals and expectations as a project manager. It also gives you the opportunity to lay out any organizational tips you wish to pass on to help with operations. When you are working with a large team in various places, you may not all be on the same page at all times. But if you have a steady and consistent onboarding process, you can at least make sure all remote workers are reading the same book.

2. Letting Them Wing It

Anyone who has gotten in an argument over text messages knows how miscommunications through technology are possible. When it comes to managing remote workers, the more structure and communication you can provide them, the better. Instead of telling them what you want and letting them wing it, you are better off telling them what you want, when you want it, and the steps you need them to take in order to accomplish said task.

3. Ignoring Time Zones

It’s easy to forget that the people on the other side of the screen are just that… people. When you ignore time zones and demand crazy hours from remote employees, you are more likely to get haphazard results from resentful employees. If you aren’t willing to wait 24 hours for a response from a remote worker, you are better off finding someone in a time zone that is no more than 2 hours different than yours.

4. Micromanaging

Wait… but didn’t we just tell you to give them step-by-step instructions on what to get done? Being thorough with your project direction and micromanaging are not the same things. People hire remote workers as a way to delegate more nitty gritty work to qualified professionals so they get to focus on the big picture. If you are spending too much time instructing your remote team on every second of their processes, you are neglecting to truly take advantage of their talent. As a project manager, it is up to you to find the right balance between giving enough instruction and being too hands-on.

5. Separating On-Campus and Remote Staff

Even if you have only a handful of remote employees, your team won’t work at its highest capacity if they do not feel included. Make sure there is open communication between everyone involved. Do not  separate your general instructions based on who lives where. It may also help to have everyone run through a team building exercise once or twice a month to help build cohesiveness and improve communication.

6.  Not Offering Incentives

Managers often use incentives as a way to encourage team members to go the extra mile to reach company goals. Just because you have team members working remotely doesn’t mean they should be exempt from such rewards.

7. Being Too Casual

When you work in IT or development, there is a general relaxed atmosphere that comes with the territory. When you communicate via calls or chat, it is easy to let that relaxation turn into overt casualness. Remember: you are a leader and this is a business. As a project manager, you still have to exude an overall professional demeanor in order to demand respect.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with nearshore 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!