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When Not To Go Remote

By Sanya Weathers

Amy clarified my blog post from Monday, lest anyone think we’re opposed to embedded employees on site. I don’t mind telling you all that my inner response was “Yikes! She’s right! I got so caught up defending the honor of us remote types that I kinda glossed right over that whole ‘sometimes it’s necessary’ thing.” I did mention one situation where you need to have the employee sitting right there, and there are more.

Check out this list. If any of these things ring a bell, talk to us about our in-person options:

–    Constant contact is part of the job. If you will need to ask this person a lot of questions, or if part of this person’s job is to interact frequently with multiple teams, there’s a point where not even instant messenger will be able to keep up.

–    Rapid change is the name of the game. If the product is changing dramatically every day, in ways that directly impact the employee’s ability to communicate or function, it’s better to have that employee onsite until things settle into a groove.

–    Your company culture is about face time, not Facebook. Does everyone in your office use instant messenger to ask questions, as opposed to getting up and walking to the next room? Do employees upload documents to your internal wiki as a matter of habit? Do entire days pass without your seeing some employees outside the break room? If none of that sounds familiar, you might not be ready for outsourcing. If your company is set up such that people share information primarily through in-person contact, you need to have a liaison right there in your office to keep your offsite team members connected.

–    Something is broken. I once saw a quote that said “Outsourcing is a tool, not a problem or a solution.” If you have a customer service failure, or a communications breakdown, or a broken process, handing the situation over to an external company won’t help. You need someone sitting there with you to see the big picture, strategize solutions that play to your internal strengths, and possibly use outsourcing as a tool to shore up weaknesses.

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