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The Pros and Cons of Remote Contractors

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When your staff lacks a key skill for the completion of a project, you have a few options. The first is to run, screaming, from the building into the nearest wooded area and never return. While this does nothing for your team or the project, it would be fun and you’d probably be a legend at your company.

The second option is to hire somebody with the skills that you need. While this second option might seem totally reasonable, the cost of bringing on a highly skilled full time employee can be huge and you might not even need them after the project is completed.

Your third option is to bring on a contractor to help with the completion of the project. Since this week’s theme on the Accolo blog is working with remote workers, today’s blog is all about the advantages and drawbacks of seeking out a remote worker to help with your hypothetical deadline.

One of the biggest advantages that remote contractors have over traditional contractors is the difference in price. Believe it or not, you can hire a remote contractor for as little as 50 cents per hour.

While this probably won’t be the rate for a software engineer, you can generally get work outsourced to remote contractors for much cheaper than it would be if you brought another body on board, especially if you had to pay for air-fair and lodging for that person. Another advantage to engaging with a remote contractor is that you’re pulling from a worldwide talent pool for a specific skill set.

While there might not be many highly skilled java engineers in your geographic area, contracting remotely allows you to leap this hurtle as if it never existed.

Now for some of the negatives.

One of the biggest challenges that people face when using remote contractors has to do with communication. You need to consider the potential for miss-communication when wording your instructions to them. The very nature of interacting with somebody solely over the internet leaves quite a lot of room for miss-communication on everything from your expectations to the deadline on a project. Make sure you are clear and everyone understands their role.

In order to get the most out of a remote contractor, there are a few things I’d suggest. First, never entrust them with a task that you haven’t used them to complete in the past. The last thing you want is to be billed for some half baked product and have to find somebody else to do it at the last minute.

It’s also immensely helpful to see your contractor face to face over a web cam. When you’re able to talk face to face with a contractor, you can communicate your expectations much more effectively than through email or even over the phone. This also helps to increase the accountability that your contractor feels toward you. It’s one thing when you’re just a name to your contractor and another thing entirely when you’ve actually had a face to face introduction.

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