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As the remote revolution picks up steam, one of the stigmas that it is still trying to shed is that of the pesky word ‘outsourcing’. Over the years, the term outsourcing has picked up a negative reputation for unwanted tasks, shipped overseas that usually result in lackluster work and headaches for all those involved.

Previously, when remote work was brought up as an option for new hires, a frequent response might have involved something along the lines of “I don’t trust outsourcing”. But remote work and outsourcing are completely separate ideologies. Remote workers are just employees that do not work in your local office. Their responsibilities don’t change, nor should your process for vetting them. Just because they are not physically present every day does not mean they are any less of an employee.

Outsourcing on the other hand, despite its negative connotation, does have its place in the modern workplace. Having an agency or small development team stationed somewhere around the world that is accustomed to working together can be very valuable. It can be useful to have such teams finish up low hanging fruit, come up with initial proof of concepts, or perform a conversion from outdated code.

However, outsourcing does have its limitations. It’s challenging to have an outsourcing shop replace a dedicated development team. It can make communication and alignment more difficult and it will make you less agile on the whole. Imagine if your requirements change and you want to quickly pivot pieces of what you are building to accommodate this new reality. If you have already commissioned this software to be built by an outsourcing company, it is not as simple as having a meeting with in house devs. Instead it will likely require far more meetings, spec revisions, adjustments of project scope, etc. All aspects that make it more difficult to follow a truly agile approach to building software.

Even with all of those potential hiccups, outsourcing is still a completely viable option for many. Small companies that are not technically inclined and need something built while they focus on other aspects of their business are prime candidates. However, for tech centric companies, building an onshore, co-located, team has traditionally been the dominant model.

Employees working physically on premises together has historically been the path of least resistance. But, this is being challenged more and more every day by other intriguing options. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a reasonable compromise for engineers seeking to be fully remote was to allow them to work remotely part time, with frequent in person team syncing. Occasionally, teams would impose a single work from home day (at my previous company it was WFH Wednesday) to give folks freedom from being in the office every day.

Expanding upon that idea a bit is the idea of nearshore development. This is hiring within a relatively close vicinity of the company’s primary working location to preserve things such as time zone alignment and language skills. While nearshore development certainly does not involve routine in-office work, it does allow for occasional visits to headquarters for in person collaboration. Benefits include an expanded pool of talent to hire from and potential cost savings from an ability to hire in lower cost of living geographies, while still enabling potential for in person interaction.

Extending beyond nearshore development is the idea of truly location agnostic hiring. There is no real location barrier for these developers, other than that which is imposed by the need for high-speed internet. They can live anywhere and operate in any timezone. The main idea here being to truly embrace remote work culture. While this form of offshore development opens the door to locations all over, there are still many considerations when making a hire. It’s important to still adhere to the principles of the normal business hiring process. Character fit, language proficiency and technical ability should still be paramount if they are currently aspects judged for the viability of a candidate. If the idea of time zone alignment is crucial to the team operation then that is an additional consideration, although one major benefit to multiple timezones can be around the clock coverage.

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All of the remote options have become more attractive to companies in recent times, and developers are showing that it can work. With companies willing to commit to this idea wholly, we are seeing remote first and distributed teams quickly become the norm. As the numbers grow and developers get a taste of the benefits, it is clear that this could soon be the primary way that development teams are built and maintained.

If you’re interested in getting your team started with remote engineers, augmenting an already existing set up, or just advice on how to make it work, we here at Telescoped can help you with that. Drop us a line

Categories: Remote Work


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