Discover Best Practices for Staffing Your MSP with Remote IT Specialists
Today, the word “outsourcing” has gotten a bad rap, largely because of its association with low-quality outsourcing destinations in Asia.
The truth is, however, hiring remote staff can be a huge asset in the IT world. In fact, it’s the quintessential way to hire help desk IT engineers in many regards.
So, how are MSPs supposed to get outside help for remote work without running into poor-quality employees and output?
We spoke with Eric Muth, a Toronto native who leads up Support Adventure, a global IT talent outsourcing company, about this very concern. In Muth’s own words, Support Adventure “Helps managed service providers get the best remote staff and provide the best environment for them … It’s an international model of hiring staff from around the world. Muth says their goal is to help IT companies save money, “but the emphasis is really on quality and getting the best staff that you can get working on your help desk.”
When it comes to hiring remote staff for your own MSP, here are some of the best practices Muth recommends, plus a few of the pitfalls you’ll want to avoid.
What Are Best Practices When Hiring Remote IT Engineers?
#1 – Don’t be concerned about hiring staff members who are halfway around the world.
As long as they’re quality workers, hiring remote staff members – even if they’re located in the Czech Republic, England, or South Africa, shouldn’t worry you.
Muth has found that it’s easiest to find companies willing to work with remote workers in big metropolitan areas. However, more recently, an increasing number of smaller companies have seen the benefits and are jumping on board as well.
#2 – Hiring remote workers doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned about language.
It goes without saying that one of the reasons outsourcing became taboo in many realms of business is because North American companies were hiring non-native English speaking employees who had a hard time communicating with American and Canadian customers.
One emphasis that Muth makes is that you should definitely hire remote workers who speak English fluently and ideally as their native language. Many of the workers he places are ex-pats who simply want to travel the world or live abroad with their families. They want to work for an American or Canadian company while having the freedom to be mobile.
#3 – Style of communication is important too.
When Support Adventure matches workers to American or Canadian companies, one of the things Muth does is attempt to match the person’s style of communication with the company’s location and style of communication.
In other words, if a company located in Texas or Alabama likes having a friendly, relaxed style of communicating with their clients, Muth will help them find a help desk employee who (even if he doesn't have the exact same accent) has a similar way of speaking and conveying ideas. Understanding the local culture is another important aspect. For example, Muth says that in Alabama, his clients “have a slower pace [of living] than East Coast and West Coast types.”
#4 – Interview or watch a video of potential hires before committing.
Just because you’re hiring a remote worker doesn’t mean you can’t take a look at him or her. Companies like Muth’s show their clients videos of potential help desk workers so that they can choose the individual who they feel best represents their brand.
#5 – Remember that you’re hiring a person, not a position (if you do it right).
In the old model of outsourcing, it was common to never know who you were hiring. You wouldn’t know their name, gender, location, or anything about them. Basically, you were hiring "someone, anyone” to fill a position -- for example, a weekend or off-hours helpdesk staffer.
In the modern model (and this is what Support Adventure does), you're hiring an actual person. Now, this doesn't mean that you need to have them on the payroll, pay them for sick days, provide them with insurance, etc. It simply means that they are your dedicated person for whatever task they are in charge of.
In this way, if they get sick or need to take a few vacation days, that's something you'll need to negotiate between the two of you. Muth’s company, for example, does not find a substitute for staffers if they get sick for a day or two. As he says, this would require having high-quality workers on the sidelines, doing nothing while they wait for work.
#6 – Develop a successful, long-term engagement.
Finally, remember that job stability should be a core value for both you and your remote engineers. Just because you don’t have a staffer working two doors down from your office who provides IT help doesn’t mean you can’t know and trust the IT worker you choose to hire remotely.
Likewise, keep in mind that the person you hire (wherever he or she is located in the world!) will greatly value the relationship they have with your MSP company as well. In the end, when done well and through the proper channels, hiring remote help desk staff can create a stable, mutually-beneficial relationship that lasts for years.