Having had remote teams since the year 2000, David confesses that HubStaff was born out of his own pain points towards Outsourcing.
The tool allows a business manager to have his/ her remote team members aligned, informed and aware, while clearly being able to map work evolution and assigning and managing priorities.
The time tracking functionality which allows screen shot capture is not really used by most managers to check if and how their remote teams are working; there is simply no time for that. The leverage that such tool represents pertains the ability to quickly check if things are evolving in the right direction, hence allowing timely fine tuning feedback that ends up saving money.
David points out that most remote employees will not provide feedback voluntarily, not because they do not want to, but because they have not the chance to build up reporting. On the other hand, mainly while working with the team in different time zones, adding to a manager’s effort of having to continuously ask feedback from several remote team members the complexity of having to do so in some predetermined time windows, just won’t do.
Time/ work tracking tools are precious because they allow any time/ any were situational awareness.
The payment process with HubStaff
This is a linear process where the tool will merely calculate the effective work done and deduct the owed value from the client’s account while channelling it towards the freelancer’s account.
Hubstaff payment functionality is able to go “full circle”, meaning if there is an agency involved, the functionality allows payment automation from both the client to the agency (invoicing included), and the agency to the freelancers.
The integration with project management tools
Hubstaff is able to get work time registry versus task from other tools like Asana or Basecamp, and this represents a major synergy which saves managers work time. A company that uses one of these collaboration tools can resort to Hubstaff to ensure accurate payment towards it’s remote teams.
Hiring represents both a ton of things that can go wrong as well as right
With regards to potential pitfalls to avoid when hiring, David points out some things to look out for:
- References and testimonials are a “must have”.
- Responsiveness – when called upon, the freelancer must provide feedback within an acceptable timeframe.
- A 30 days trial period is always a good idea
Currently David manages a team of around 30 remotes collaborators, from Eastern Europe to India, including the U.S., comprehending some 18 developers (including design), plus 6 dedicated to supporting and other 6 to marketing activities.
Having started with the tool functionalities of Time/ work tracking and payment automation, HubStaff management soon realized that market penetration would depend on having a repository of talents to go with it. So, the decision was to create a free accessible pool of resources that companies could address and then upon hiring from there, would use the tool to manage them.
Hubstaff Talent acts as a business leverage towards Hubstaff that nevertheless represents a real effective added value to potential client companies by making a pool of resumes available which can be hired at any given moment.
Hubstaff Talent started by enabling a complementary match making service, but that has proven to be both highly time consuming as not part of the company Core Business, which is software, therefore such service was discontinued.
Any company in need of hiring will just have to post a job in Hubstaff Talent (the post is required to avoid just pure speculative contacts), and then the company can search for suitable profiles as well as freelancers can bid for the job.
Once the company has found its match it can directly work with the freelancer without using Hubstaff any longer or do it via the platform, no strings attached.
Many freelancers do not have a website of their own and Hubstaff Talent enables them a nice-looking portfolio/ resume pitch
What the future brings
David explains that being a software first business, the goal is always to create apps and tools that facilitate remote work, therefore whatever the market dynamics brings in terms of future requirements/ evolution in such scope, Hubstaff will keep developing ways to help the remote hiring and working experience, one clear example is a soon to be released Project Management tool.
Although remote work implies a different operational landscape than a regular job, the main points where it somehow becomes more demanding pertain the fact that you need to report on a daily basis (most of the times), and have or develop good communication skills and momentum in a very assertive manner to overcome the absence of daily face to face interaction.
Hubstaff aims primarily at small team endeavors, some 5 to 7 people where it can really present a leverage in terms of operational costs; office, power consumption and so on.
The goal is not to grow the offering towards mid-size or big corporations since that would represent a drift from the established Core Business and target market.
On going corporate
Hubstaff will be having a retreat in Chicago at the beginning of September exactly to decide if the time has come to go Corporate, in the sense of having a headquarters office where people physically meet on an almost daily basis. The point is that the company growth cycle is beginning to require people to spend more time together on the decision-making process towards software portfolio evolution than online meeting allows.
Additionally, there is the point of reaching a size where it makes sense to become more personal with some team members, creating a Corporate culture and by then maybe it will make sense to spend a couple of days a week at a common office location on a constant basis.
Currently within each project/ assignment scope there are weekly meetings/ interactions over online video chat and on a monthly basis, the entire team meets online to a performance review about the business, therefore, promoting awareness and allowing everyone to contribute with their thoughts and ideas/ pain points.
David confesses disliking the term “Outsourcing” because in fact, it is people working from remote locations.
Working with remote teams poses some challenges, and maybe one of that potentially represent a relevant pain point regards the degree of dedication towards one’s project. Meaning, is work moving forward as fast as it could be or are those remote workers simultaneously involved in other projects with other clients and therefore only partially working in this project, although being paid fulltime?
One way to deal with it is to make it simple by establishing base expectations, and those should basically consist of:
- Are the remote workers delivering as promised?
- Are they meeting the agreed time lines?
- Are they communicating in advance if a delay happens?
As a business owner the objective is to have linear and effective processes supported by tools that minimize the required effort of detail tracking work done, therefore, liberating time to work on the business itself, hence growing the company.