Posts

4 Powerful Tips to Improve Communication at Work

Communication is one of key pillars for any relationship. It could be a personal relationship, a friendship or a business relationship. People sometimes think that rules for personal communication don´t apply to a work environment but this is not true.  Every human has needs, emotions, hopes, values and dreams. And each person faces situations in their personal life that may sometimes impact job performance.

Staff turnover is one of the main challenges many companies face.  While employees come and go, many are less likely to leave if they are in an environment where they feel respected, rewarded, safe and comfortable.  People tend to be happier in work environments where they are confident enough to speak to coworkers and managers about their lives – this includes work related topics and personal ones too.

This is why communication is so important in the work environment, both among employees in the office and for those that work remotely. While maintaining good communication with employees who work together in the same place each day may seem straightforward, it is sometimes less obvious how to improve communication with those working off site. As an agency that specializes in connecting nearshore technical talent with U.S. companies, we’ve got some worthwhile insights into this challenge. Follow along for helpful tips to improve work communication, including communication between onshore and offshore workers.

Four Helpful Tips To Help You Improve Communication At Work

1. Employees are human beings, not numbers or metrics.

Many companies focus on growth, revenue and developing new products/services or improving existing ones. Sometimes by doing this, employees start to feel more like numbers, or pawns in a game of chess. When dealing with human resources, emotions play an important role. Employees are much less likely to make sacrifices for companies that make them feel like a cog in a wheel. It is tough to go the extra mile for a boss that doesn’t seem to take interest or care about anything but the bottom line.

According to Dale Carnegie, author of the award-winning classic: “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the main thing people care about in life is themselves. Every person wants to feel important, valued and appreciated.

Henry Ford surely recognized this back in 1914 when he started paying his employees $5 a day. (This was a big salary increase.) He also reduced shifts from 9 hours a day to 8. By doing this Ford quickly solved a high staff turnover problem that his company was experiencing. This led to notable increases in production.

If a company can make its employees feel important, feel that their job matters and that they are important assets for the company, they are far more likely to do the extra work needed to go from good to great, and to take care of the company as if it was their own. While a motivated employee will communicate better, it is an employer’s responsibility to make sure employees know they are free to express what is on their mind.

2. Body Language Matters.

Over 50% of the things we say are non-verbal. Given this, learning body language is an important part of developing more effective communication.

If you are a manager, it is essential that you practice your body language skills so that when you speak with your employees you can transmit your ideas in the best possible way and avoid any misunderstandings of what you are trying to convey.

Things like maintaining an upright posture, making eye contact during conversation and keeping your chin up will radiate confidence and those around you will see you with respect.

Besides using body language to communicate well at work, it’s also important to understand body language signals in others. This might be especially important when dealing with offshore employees that normally communicate through apps like Skype or Zoom.  Knowing how to identify body language signals like face and eye gestures and tone of voice will enable you to read between the lines of the message that a coworker wants to transmit.

3. Make Yourself Available to your Co-Workers.

One of the easiest ways to make yourself accessible to coworkers is to simply tell them that you are available. People want to know they can count on you and the only way they will know this is if you communicate it. People want to know that their colleagues are people that can listen to them and understand what is going on.

Sometimes it may be difficult for people to communicate issues directly, especially with a manager. In these times, it can be useful to have a way for people to anonymously ask questions or even express complaints. Having a channel of communication that enables people who are too uncomfortable or shy to speak directly to leaders is a great way for a company to stay informed about situations they may otherwise not know about.

4. Share Something in Common.

Many of the best managers are comfortable sharing something about their personal lives with their coworkers. They might participate in a fun office outing or simply take an interest in the lives of their employees. Something as simple as remembering a birthday can make an enormous difference to a person’s morale at work.

This type of leader tends to be one that can talk about any topic with employees, not just work-related things. Often these more informal conversations help to build trust and work satisfaction. They also improve overall communication by making people feel more comfortable and secure.

Take the time to develop relationships with your coworkers and create a trusting environment for people to open up to you. You will likely be pleasantly surprised by the results.

When Small Businesses Should Turn to Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a buzzword right now. Companies, large and small, are seeing the benefits of outsourcing and taking advantage. However, more often than not, the larger companies are the ones who truly take advantage of outsourcing. This is mainly because they have the funds and the work to do so efficiently. That doesn’t mean small businesses can’t benefit from outsourcing. They just have to approach outsourcing for small business wisely. And be sure to only use it when it is sure to benefit the company. So, where does a small business owner start when considering outsourcing? With just that – a consideration.

Pairing the consideration that business could benefit from moving work outside the office with an assessment of the business practice is a good place to start. This way of thinking will ensure that small business owners are making the right decision at the right time. Only once a lot of thought has gone into how outsourcing can help your business will it be time to look into outsourcing options. Follow along to learn what should be considered when looking into outsourcing for small business and where to start.

Four Signs Outsourcing for Small Business Could Help Your Company

1. The Same Problems Keep Coming Up

Every business, big or small, experiences a problem that continues to come up. Maybe it’s a part of a quality assurance checklist that is constantly overlooked. Or, perhaps, the team is unable to effectively deliver one of its promises time and time again. If there’s a particular aspect that the company continues to struggle with, it may be time to outsource that aspect.

There are a couple of questions business owners can ask themselves to determine if outsourcing is the best option. First of all, is there someone within the company who can take the work on? Can they do so without compromising their own set of day to day tasks? Secondly, can the company afford to pay this worker less than what it would cost to hire an outside agency? It’s time to outsource that work and keep the company moving forward if “yes” is not the answer to both questions.

2. Requested Work is Out of Your Wheelhouse

Another time to consider outsourcing is when work requests are coming in that your team cannot handle. Perhaps they don’t have the bandwidth to get it done effectively. Or perhaps the experience just isn’t there. Regardless of the reason, if there is work that needs to be done and your employees don’t have the ability to do it, it may be time to outsource that work. Another opportunity to outsource when work is not in your wheelhouse is when it concerns a chief officer within your company. There are plenty of agencies that supply CMOs, CFOs, or CISOs to companies struggling with filling those positions or functioning without them. That’s one of the beauties of outsourcing — no matter what it is you need, someone out there has it.

3. A Lot of Your Time is Spent on the Same Tasks

Do you find your day-to-day within the office is spent on the same tasks that could be chalked up to housekeeping? Perhaps you’ve observed that some of your most competent workers are spending too much of their time on tasks below their skill level. Regardless of the reason, if you can automate mundane tasks then do so by all means. Find programs to help with social media posting, billing, and additional clerical work, data entry, and the like. For all other tasks that you’d like to delegate to someone that is not a crucial member of your team, outsource. Some tasks can be outsourced to interns, so look at local colleges for interns interested in a career in IT. Other tasks can be outsourced to third-parties, both nearshore and offshore, depending on what kind of turnaround time you’re needing.

4. Your Creativity is Not Meeting What’s In Demand

Most companies that deal with website design, inbound marketing, or social media management have a grasp on creative tasks. Whether it’s an entire design team that remains in-house or a single person who is an expert in all things creative, if your company is cranking out design work, there is a designer on staff. While a single creative member or a team of designers can get a massive amount of work done, what will you do if a client requests video work? It’s not feasible to hire an entire video department for a one-off project, but you can adjust your pricing to cover outsourcing a video project.

Outsourcing may add a few lines to your company’s month-to-month balance sheet, but the benefits of it often far outweigh the cost. When applied correctly, to the appropriate aspects of a small business, outsourcing can be extremely beneficial. At Number8, we offer nearshore outsourcing services to a variety of business across the United States who need help with developmental work. If you’re looking for a team of experienced developers to help your small business churn out software development, contact us by calling 502-890-7665 today!

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!

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!

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!

7 Industries Making Remote Work Commonplace

With greater schedule flexibility, it’s no surprise the trend towards remote work is growing. Whats more, cloud based technology has made working from home easier than ever before with files and data readily accessible. According to CNBC, “More than two-thirds of people around the world work away from the office at least once every week.”

Working from the comforts of home (or anywhere with a good wifi connection that is) is enticing when you factor in all the time not spent commuting and sitting in traffic. Additionally, remote workers tend to have more control over their workplace environment, and can usually juggle home and work life responsibilities with more finesse.  As happy employees make for a more productive workforce, many industries seem to be embracing this new kind of work culture.

Here are 7 Industries where Remote Workers are becoming Commonplace:

1. IT 

Remote work is no doubt ripe in the field of information technology. Jobs in security, website development, software engineering, app development, and database administration (just to name a few) can all be done remotely. In fact, many IT companies look to utilize remote workers in order to better offset costs and streamline projects. 

2. Accounting & Finance

Bookkeepers and accountants can usually work from anywhere, often computing payroll and or taxes for clients both big and small. 

3. Customer Service

 Companies that function primarily online through a website rather than a store front need customer service just as much as brick and mortar businesses do. Online tech support jobs tend to be remote and act as a virtual help desk for customers or clients, including assisting with online orders as well as payment processing.

4. Healthcare

 Many administrative jobs in the healthcare industry are now remotely operated. These jobs include handling billing, insurance claims, as well as scheduling appointments.

5. Marketing

 The advertising industry has largely transformed in recent years due to the rise of digital platforms. Whether it’s as a graphic designer, content writer, influencer or social media manager, long gone are the days where you need to be in an office to run an ad or promote a business or product. Marketing jobs now come in many different shapes and sizes and can be done from anywhere. 

6. Education

Due to an increase in online classes being offered, there are more opportunities for teachers to work remotely. For example, many college level classes are being taught online by adjunct professors to better serve non-traditional students. Additionally, those homeschooling or looking for help to prepare for the SATs can do so via virtual tutors.

7. Sales

 Just as the marketing world has changed, so to have sales jobs. Now generating leads is more plausible through the use of social media channels, as well as email or text message marketing. All of this can be done remotely, especially if you’re in the real estate industry.  

At Number8, we believe one of the keys to achieving your business’s goals is great IT that supports your company. We help businesses access great IT by connecting them with remote workers that utilize best-practice tools and 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!

5 Myths of Working With an Offshore Development Team

Working with an offshore development team is becoming a popular alternative staffing solution in the software industry. Not only does it reduce operating costs, but it allows a company to build a team at their own pace. However, offshoring work comes with it’s fair share of misconceptions.

Here are a few common myths about the pitfalls of working with an offshore development team.

  1. The quality of the work will be poor.

    While trusting remote workers is reasonably hard for any employer or company to do, reputable offshore development teams have proven to help tech companies advance within the industry. As long as a partnership and relationship is established, and industry standard benchmarks are relied upon, the quality of work received will not be lacking.

  2. It takes jobs away.

    The fact of the matter is that U.S. based tech companies are facing a shortage of IT professionals. Offshoring some of the workload actually frees up current staff to work on reaching their goals. Developing the company’s end products is always more worthwhile than working on lesser routine and task oriented maintenance.

  3. It’s a security risk.

    Depending on the type of work that is being offshored, data privacy and intellectual property breaches can be a concern. Unfortunately, these security risks are just as likely to happen onshore as they are off it. Detailed contracts outlining who is liable can help curb risks and ensure everyone is compliant in terms of security needs. 

  4. We won’t be able to communicate with one another.

    In addition to the possible language barrier that comes with having offshore employees, there are also varying idioms, gestures, customs, and behavior norms that can throw communication off kilter. However, it is in no way impossible to find an offshore team that is either fluent in english, comfortable with a specific dialect, or capable of communicating through the right channel. In today’s world we are all connected online, and the agile project management method is specifically known for enabling more transparency between working partners. The idea that one cannot work in unison with those from other cultures is at most an antiquated idea as email, video chatting, and instant messaging allow for those from around the world to communicate with one another better than ever before.

  5. The time gap will mean a lag in productivity.

    In the IT world, completing projects quickly is crucial as ideas and and new technologies are always evolving. Depending on the geographical location of overseas partners, offshoring can often mean a difference in time zones and work day hours between teams. While this understandably seems worrisome, it’s important to remember there are many countries where part of the work day overlaps. Therefore collaboration can take place. If this isn’t the case, many companies make the difference in time zones work for them with round the clock support between both countries and teams.

Finding the right partners to grow your team and business is an essential ingredient for success. Why not utilize resources from around the world and open your company up to the best the industry has to offer?

At Number8, we help companies create software products with the help of offshore development. If you questions about our consulting process and why we are the right offshore software development company for your team to work with, then give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!