Wesley Cude, the owner of Cude Design is a web design & development agency based in the UK and his role is to manage clients and our team of designers and developers. For the best part of 4 years, he has been working from Spain, specifically Javea and Barcelona. He shares with us his knowledge about managing a remote team and you can follow them in Facebook, Twitter or visit the company site.
1. How, when and why did you become a remote team or distributed company with employees working remotely?
I never set out with a plan of creating a remote team. With rent being high back in the UK I couldn’t really afford to move out. With a very small customer base I decided to move to Spain where rent was cheaper and the weather a major improvement.
With a better focus on work I began marketing the design agency. As the clientele base grew we began taking on more remote employees and found the system worked very well.
2. Which have been the advantages to become a remote company or having a distributed team?
Freedom is the biggest advantage! Being able to work from any location with a solid internet connection is incredible and I can’t imagine working any differently.
Business wise, having remote employees works very well from a financial stand point when starting out. The reason being when starting your business, work can be slow or even patchy. With remote workers, you only need to take them on as and when you receive work and need their assistance. This is beneficial by not adding a financial burden to your business.
3. Have there been any disadvantages and obstacles? How have you overcome these challenges?
There are tonnes of challenges daily. Firstly, there are the challenges with working with clients remotely. This could be impromptu meetings with clients who might not necessarily know you are working remotely resulting in flights at short notice or handling calls at unsociable hours due to the time difference.
From an employee perspective time difference and language barriers can cause many obstacles which requires a huge amount of patience.
4. How do you do to operate effectively as a remote or distributed team? Have you modified the processes, tools, organization and internal activities?
The process is constantly being improved to ensure we are working in the most time efficient manner. We have begun utilising Google Drive a lot more now, creating specific files for users to upload files to. An example of this is a ‘Password’ document which the user can add their passwords to. We kindly ask them to double check these before adding as we noticed we often received the wrong credentials from a client.
5. How do you do to hiring remotely? What’s the process that you follow?
The best way we have found is to outsource a small piece of work to the candidate. If it goes well, then we will outsource a larger project. We continue like this and the relationship builds organically and you then begin to build trust.
Previously when we have taken someone on to work on a full project it has often not gone as smoothly as I would have liked. Often the skill level the candidate expressed they had often falls way short or what they provide. By starting on a small jobs you get a good idea of the quality of their work and whether they can meet a deadline.
The biggest thing I have learnt is ‘trust your gut’. If after few days down the line you are losing confidence, don’t wait, address the issue and decide whether it is best to cut ties and look elsewhere.
6. What would you say to companies that don’t believe to hire employees who work remotely?
That is tough. A lot of our clients choose us because we are local but in fact they never want to meet. Often the larger clients are too busy to meet so it doesn’t matter whether you are based 5 or 100 miles away.
I think this attitude will change in the future and in 5 years’ time a remote team will be very normal.
7. Which are the tools that you use or help you to work remotely?
The biggest tool I use is Skype. I can easily talk to a number of remote workers easily across multiple continents. MoneyPenny answering service is another great tool, picking up any missed calls to your business.
9. How do you manage the business, salaries and things like taxes as a remote company?
There is very little difference working remotely than if I was based in the UK. The business is registered in the UK and all taxes are paid there. With European remote workers we pay them directly through Transfer Wise to keep transfer costs as low as possible.
All remote employees bill us at the beginning of the month.
What advice would you give to companies that are starting to work remotely or establishing a distributed team?
Keep running costs as low as possible and never pay a remote worker upfront prior to working with them before or unless you can see they are clearly established. Keep all written correspondence recorded with clients and employees. This stops ‘project creep’ with clients and holds remote employees accountable if they have not carried out the task adequetly.
Ensure the team you decide to work with are easily contactable during office hours and always make sure you have a plan ‘B’.