Finding the right talent quickly can make or break your project, but traditional methods like relying solely on local pools or requiring physical co-location can be restrictive. In fact, a recent survey by Indeed reveals that 83% of recruiters find searching for tech talent challenging. This is where remote software development and staff augmentation come in.

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While headlines of tech industry layoffs might paint a picture of a dwindling need for talent, the reality is far more nuanced. Despite recent cuts, the demand for skilled individuals in the tech sector continues to outpace the available workforce.

This isn’t just anecdotal evidence. A November-December 2022 Gartner survey revealed that a staggering 86% of Chief Information Officers are facing increased competition for qualified candidates, and 73% expressed ongoing concerns about retaining existing IT talent.

Content: 

  • Why remote development teams are more than just a trend?
  • Hiring remote developers: Weighing the pros and cons
  • Two approaches to assembling your remote team: DIY vs. professional help
  • How to hire developers for a startup: A comprehensive guide
  • Hiring remote developers: Top tips and considerations
  • Summing up

This guide draws on our experience and case studies to help startups and enterprises navigate the hiring process for remote developers. We’ll equip you with the knowledge and strategies needed to build a skilled and diverse team, no matter where in the world they’re located.

Why remote development teams are more than just a trend?

The past decade has witnessed a steady shift towards remote software development, and the reasons are numerous and compelling. While the motivations behind this trend may differ across businesses, the core principle remains: harnessing the power of global talent without geographical limitations.

  1. Accessing a global talent pool. Gone are the days of being restricted to local talent pools. Remote hiring allows you to tap into a wider range of expertise and specializations, regardless of location. This is particularly beneficial for finding niche skills or filling gaps in your current team’s capabilities.
  2. Enhanced cost-efficiency. Remote development offers a compelling cost-benefit advantage. By leveraging talent pools in regions with lower living costs, businesses can achieve competitive salary structures while maintaining high-quality work. This also eliminates overhead expenses associated with physical office space and equipment, further contributing to cost savings.
  3. Increased flexibility and agility. Remote teams offer inherent flexibility in terms of work schedules and locations. This can lead to improved employee satisfaction and retention, especially for individuals seeking a healthy work-life balance. Additionally, it allows for rapid team scaling based on project requirements without the need for geographic constraints.

54% of CEOs believe remote work options help them retain talent, significantly impacting costs and stability Source: PWC's Global CEO Survey 2023

  1. Overcoming geographical and regulatory hurdles. Complexities in local regulations and legalities can often hinder hiring initiatives. Remote development eliminates these geographical barriers, allowing businesses to collaborate with qualified individuals, regardless of their location.
  2. Embracing a diverse and distributed workforce. Remote teams foster diversity of thought and experience, which can lead to enhanced creativity and problem-solving abilities within your organization. Additionally, the distributed nature of remote work fosters a culture of trust and autonomy, empowering individuals to take ownership and deliver results.

The future of remote development

Studies like the 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey highlights that remote work has already been a widespread practice, with a significant portion of the developer community embracing its flexibility and benefits. And the success of remote work in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has further solidified its prominence in the software development landscape. 

77% of employees feel happier and more satisfied with their jobs due to the work-life balance benefits of remote work.

While adopting a remote development model may not be universally applicable, its undeniable advantages pave the way for a future where talent location is no longer an obstacle to building successful and thriving tech teams.

Hiring remote developers: Weighing the pros and cons

The rising popularity of remote work has extended to the software development field, with many companies reaping the benefits of hiring remote developers. However, this practice is not without its challenges. Let’s delve into the advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision.

Advantages

  • Expanded talent pool. Remote hiring liberates you from geographical constraints, enabling you to tap into a global pool of skilled professionals. This allows you to find the perfect candidate for the job, regardless of their location, potentially filling critical skill gaps within your existing team.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Different regions have varying salary ranges. By leveraging remote talent pools, you can potentially optimize costs, achieving competitive salaries while maintaining high-quality work.
  • Improved productivity. Studies have shown that remote work can increase productivity, with some reporting 35-40% efficiency gains. This can be attributed to factors like reduced distractions and greater autonomy, allowing individuals to work during their peak hours.
  • Flexibility. Remote work fosters flexibility for both employers and employees. Additionally, it allows for rapid team scaling based on project needs without geographical limitations.

Remote employees have 1.28 fewer sick days on average per year compared to in-office employees. Source: Global Workplace Analytics 2020

Disadvantages

  • Management challenges. Remote work requires a shift in management approach, necessitating strong communication skills, trust, and clear expectations. The lack of immediate oversight can be a concern for some managers, requiring them to adapt their approach to ensure efficient collaboration and project delivery.
  • Recruiting and onboarding. Identifying and hiring qualified remote talent requires a well-defined recruitment strategy and effective candidate assessment methods that go beyond traditional in-person interviews. Additionally, onboarding remote employees effectively requires extra planning and effort to ensure they feel integrated and equipped for success.
  • Communication and collaboration. While various communication platforms exist, they can’t fully replicate the spontaneity and ease of in-person interaction. Clear communication structures, regular team meetings, and fostering a culture of open communication are crucial to overcome these challenges. Time zone differences and cultural nuances can also add complexity to collaboration efforts, requiring additional planning and consideration.

Not only good things. 27% of remote workers struggle with communication and collaboration due to physical distance. Source: Owl Labs 2023 report

Two approaches to assembling your remote team: DIY vs. professional help

So, you’ve decided to leverage the benefits of remote development, and now you’re wondering where to find the perfect talent. Here’s an overview of the two main options: DIY and professional staff augmentation services.

Building your remote development team: A DIY guide

Finding and hiring remote developers can be done in two ways: through specialized agencies or by tackling it yourself, the “DIY” approach. This guide focuses on the DIY method, which requires more effort but offers greater control over the process.

DIY guideBefore you begin…

Define success. Clearly outline your project goals and expectations. Create a “scorecard” with specific competencies and desired levels of proficiency to guide your candidate selection. This helps assess potential candidates effectively.

Craft a compelling job description: Whether posted online or shared through your network, ensure it’s well-written and shareable. Briefly introduce the project and highlight its unique aspects.

Attracting the right talent

Targeted communication. Don’t overload yourself with initial interviews. Instead, meticulously review applications and prioritize candidates who demonstrate genuine interest in your project, ask insightful questions, and exhibit clear communication skills. Look for individuals who actively engage with your communication, showcasing initiative and problem-solving potential.

Initial interview (30 minutes). Focus on cultural fit, communication skills, and remote work suitability. Evaluate their prior experience, including remote work experience, and gauge their understanding of the project. Encourage questions to assess their level of engagement.

Technical assessment (2-4 hours)

Skill evaluation. This stage delves deeper into technical expertise. Consider practical coding tests or collaborative problem-solving exercises designed to assess relevant skills and problem-solving approaches. Remember, these assessments should be reasonable in length and avoid turning into free work for the candidate.

Beyond technical skills. While technical skills are crucial, prioritize candidates who demonstrate collaborative spirit and the ability to communicate effectively, even if they are not experts in every non-essential aspect of the project. Remote work thrives on strong communication and teamwork.

Final interview and offer

Finalize details. Discuss collaboration specifics like working hours, communication channels, salary, and project deliverables. Ideally, crucial aspects should be outlined in the initial job description to avoid last-minute surprises.

Refine and clarify. This final discussion allows you to fine-tune the collaboration model based on the candidate’s preferences and your initial outline. Agree on clear communication channels, schedules, and project expectations.

Additional tips

Leverage online platforms. Utilize professional networking sites like LinkedIn to share your job description and connect with potential candidates.

Engage the community. Consider posting relevant technical questions on online forums or communities to attract talent and assess their problem-solving skills and engagement level.

The DIY approach requires effort and planning, but it can also offer greater control and flexibility in finding the perfect fit for your team, regardless of location.

How to hire developers: The professional approach

While building a remote development team in-house offers control, delegating the search to professional outstaffing companies can significantly save time and resources, especially when seeking multiple developers. Here’s how it works:

  1. Define your needs clearly. While creating detailed “scorecards” isn’t necessary, clearly articulate your project’s technical requirements and desired skill sets. Separate “must-have” from “nice-to-have” skills for efficient candidate selection. Describe your communication model and project vision. Consider the potential benefits of a “hybrid” team, where developers work remotely within a dedicated office, fostering collaboration while reducing overhead costs.
  2. Find a reputable staff augmentation partner. With numerous providers available, selecting the right one becomes crucial. Consider these factors:
  • Developer expertise. Evaluate their offered skillsets and technology specialization to align with your project needs.
  • Industry experience. Look for companies with experience serving clients in your industry, as they understand your sector’s specific nuances.
  • Location and references. Research their location and primary developer base. Request client references and read online reviews to gauge their reputation and quality of service.
  • Portfolio and communication. Review their portfolio of past projects to assess their work style and capabilities. Be mindful of their initial communication style and the questions they ask, as this can indicate their level of professionalism and understanding.
  • Search timeline. Discuss the realistic timeframe for finding suitable candidates based on your specific requirements. Reputable companies can often find qualified individuals within days to weeks.
  1. Hands-off approach or active involvement. Outstaffing companies typically offer a choice of engagement levels. You can either rely solely on their expertise or choose to conduct your own final interviews with shortlisted candidates for added control.

How to hire developers for a startup: A comprehensive guide

Before diving into your search, check out the key aspects of working with remote developers. Here are some insights from experienced managers, categorized into three main areas: management, cost considerations, and hiring best practices.

Managing a remote team

  • Clear communication. While impromptu meetings can arise, structured scheduling is crucial. This ensures everyone is available and in sync, preventing delays and confusion.
  • Flexible work schedules. Accommodate individual peak productivity times. Consider overlapping schedules across team members to ensure continuous progress.
  • Effective onboarding. Just as with on-site employees, thorough onboarding is essential for remote developers. This includes project specifics, collaboration processes, and using relevant tools effectively.
  • Detailed task descriptions. Clearly define tasks with minimal room for misinterpretation. This avoids the need for additional explanations later, saving time and ensuring everyone is on the same page from the start.
  • Collaboration tools. Utilize various platforms to facilitate seamless teamwork. Popular options include project management tools (e.g., Jira, Trello), document sharing (e.g., Google Drive, Microsoft Sharepoint), and communication tools (e.g., Slack, MS Teams, Skype).

Managing a remote team

Understanding the costs of remote developers

While there’s no single “average” cost for remote developers, the overall cost of remote development often tends to be lower than traditional in-office setups. This is influenced by several key factors, including:

  • Reduced accommodation costs. Businesses save on office space, utilities, and associated expenses. 2020 studies by Global Workplace Analytics estimated that remote models can save companies up to $11,000 per employee annually.
  • Global talent pool access. Hiring from different countries with lower developer rates can be an option, but prioritization should be on skills and experience, not solely on location. Super low rates may indicate less experienced developers, so thorough vetting is crucial.

Here’s a breakdown of the cost considerations:

  1. Location
  • Eastern European countries like Lithuania, Ukraine, or Romania are popular choices due to their strong tech education and competitive rates compared to Western nations.
  • Market fluctuations and supply/demand can also impact developer rates within specific regions. For instance, .NET developers might command higher rates than PHP developers in the Czech Republic, while the opposite might be true in Ukraine.
  1. Project and technology
  • Project complexity and the specific technology used significantly influence costs. Complex projects involving cutting-edge technologies will naturally command higher rates compared to simpler projects using more established technologies.
  1. Additional factors
  • Developer experience and skill level are paramount, regardless of location.
  • Contract structure (hourly vs. fixed fee) and project duration also play a role in determining the overall cost.

As an example, here is the comparison for just several most widely sought professions based on data from open sources as of March 2024:

  USA France Poland Ukraine India China Australia
Full-stack developer $110,000 $65,000 $55,000 $42,000 $40,000 $50,000 $95,000
DevOps $120,000 $70,000 $60,000 $45,000 $45,000 $55,000 $100,000
AI/ML engineer $150,000 $80,000 $65,000 $50,000 $48,000 $60,000 $110,000
UI/UX designer $95,000 $65,000 $50,000 $35,000 $25,000 $45,000 $100,000
QA Automated $100,000 $70,000 $55,000 $42,000 $35,000 $50,000 $110,000

While cost is an important aspect, prioritize finding skilled and experienced developers who align with your project needs for long-term success, regardless of their location.

Hiring remote developers: Top tips and considerations

Building a successful remote development team requires careful selection and evaluation beyond just technical skills. Here are some key aspects to consider when hiring remote developers:

Assessing skills and qualities

Go beyond the CV. Resumes alone don’t tell the whole story. Look for demonstrated experience in similar roles or projects, not just formal qualifications. Encourage candidates to share relevant portfolio links, personal websites, or GitHub profiles to showcase their work.

Focus on essential qualities. Prioritize soft skills like self-motivation, strong communication, initiative, and responsibility. These are crucial for success in a remote setting. Research suggests the following qualities are highly sought after:

  • Strong communication
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving
  • Adaptability
  • Teamwork

Attracting the right talent

70% of professionals consider remote work options a top priority when searching for new jobs. Source: Robert Half survey 2023

Clearly defined requirements. Avoid overwhelming candidates with an extensive list of “nice-to-haves.” Be specific about the essential skills and qualities you need for the role. This helps attract the right talent and establishes clear expectations.

Project focus over perks. When crafting your job description, highlight the project’s intrinsic value, potential learning opportunities, and the freedom and flexibility of remote work instead of solely focusing on perks and benefits. This resonates with motivated individuals seeking autonomy and growth.

Practical assessment. Incorporate practical evaluations beyond written tests. Consider:

  • Hidden test tasks – embed a simple test task within the job description itself.
  • Simulated challenges – design realistic scenarios relevant to the role to assess problem-solving and communication skills.
  • Community engagement – post a relevant question in online forums and see how candidates respond. Engaging participation can reveal initiative and problem-solving skills.

Summing up

Remote development is becoming the norm, driven by technological advancements and flexible work trends. By leveraging professional outstaffing services, you gain access to a broader talent pool, reduce internal workload, and free your team to focus on core business activities. This optimized approach allows you to build a talented and productive remote development team efficiently, propelling your business forward.

Even though some challenges remain, for example, Forbes highlights the challenge of fostering a strong company culture and connection among geographically dispersed remote teams, or a 2023 study by Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency warns of increased security risks associated with remote work environments, they can be eliminated when you choose a reliable and professional staff augmentation partner. 

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