Remote team learnings from a hiring expert
The weekly newsletter of the Business of Tech, giving you new insights into the world of IT service delivery.
Looking for stories from the podcast stories? Check out the pod itself on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or daily in your inbox. Stories are available to everyone for five days,and Patreon supporters forever.
Was this forwarded to you? Join the list!
Learnings from a hiring expert
Even three and a half years after the onset of the pandemic, the work-from-home debate continues to rage on. Although the arguments on both sides have evolved over time, in many ways, the conversation hasn’t changed at all. The folks who love remote work aren’t likely to give it up, the in-person people are thrilled to be back, and the hybrid workers are chugging right along (whether they like it or not).
No matter which side you’re on, as an IT services provider, your job is impacted by the decisions your customers make on the matter. This is especially true for Adrian Esquival, the Founder and CEO of TECKpert, a staffing firm that helps augment teams in technology companies and software development projects.
Long before the pandemic, Esquival and his team have been providing IT and technical workforce support across the country through both in-person and remote collaborations. He knows so much about the topic that he recently authored a book on it: The Future of the Workforce is Now.
I wanted to get his insight on the current state of remote work from a client and provider perspective, so I welcomed him onto a recent bonus episode of The Business of Tech.
Here’s the latest on the remote work debate from Esquival’s POV:
TECKpert’s WFH Philosophy
I kicked off the convo by asking Esquival about his overall philosophy on working from home. He broke it down into three simple parts:
Working from home is not for everyone
People who work from home have to be self-disciplined
The work itself has to be the right fit for work from home
More specifically, to be one of the people/teams who can succeed in this setting, Esquival believes that each person has to have two qualities: they have to be a responsible self-starter, and they have to be a great communicator.
That last point brought me to one of the biggest concerns I come across in my own research on the debate – that remote work lacks the serendipity of in-person work. The argument goes that without the random, unplanned moments of authentic human communication, the company suffers from a lack of magically creative moments.
On this point, Esquival re-emphasized the importance of self-motivated communication while working from home. There has to be a willingness, even excitement, to share new ideas without prompting. To succeed, a remote team can’t let those kernels of inspiration fall by the wayside.
Remote Team Management
So, how can a manager ensure that their reports maintain that self-discipline with constant communication?
I asked Esquival what he recommends, and he pointed out that in the technology field, we’re already set up for success on this front.
“We’ve always had an advantage in terms of how we work… we’ve used certain tools that were for project management and for task management from day one, and we’ve made that really part of our process. process. And so, our process has always been written or defined by the fact that we were leveraging these technology tools, like a project management tool, like a chat tool.”
In short, that digital fluency is the foundation for effective remote communication – which makes a lot of sense when you think about the types of companies and leaders that can’t stomach working from home. They tend to be well-established legacy businesses with leaders that thrived with the traditional office model.
Esquival’s advice for helping companies like this improve their remote work processes? Easy: digitization.
“A lot of companies that maybe are doing things a different way, an older way, or a manual way, [my advice] is to start digitizing those things first. Digitize those processes, get those workflows defined.”
If that sounds too simple, keep in mind that pre-pandemic, people outside of our industry rarely put much thought into their routines and processes. Everyone was right down the hall like they always were, so altering methods of communication wasn’t a priority. Now that people are thinking about their systems a bit more, it’s on us to prioritize building a digital foundation.
The Resistance to Change
Of course, executing this type of transition is far easier said than done – hence the resistance to remote work in the first place. I asked Esquival if he thinks it’s a simple case of the difficulty of teaching old dogs new tricks (especially when it requires so much effort to adjust one’s leadership approach), and he was hesitant to say it’s that reason alone.
Instead, he attributes the resistance to a combination of factors like the serendipitous collaboration, the financial investment of renting a space, and the desire to control teams directly.
However, Esquival doesn’t see a world where the in-office acolytes win entirely and remote work goes away completely. To those resisting the change, he simply says this:
“You’re going to have to adopt something at some point. You can’t just go back to how things used to be.”
On the flip side, I also asked him why remote work is a core part of the changes we’re seeing across the workforce. He agreed with my premise that it’s generational, but he also gives credit to the technology that makes it possible and the powerful potential of non-geographical hiring.
Oh, and if you’re curious about what Esquival is seeing on the ground hiring-wise, he says things are still tight on the recruiting front, but he is seeing some improvement.
The IT Provider’s Role
So, where does this leave us as technology service providers? I’ve posited for some time now that technology companies that invest in client training to help customers achieve cultural change (AKA, going beyond simply deploying solutions to the customer) are able to deliver the most successful projects possible.
I ran this premise by Esquival, and he applied this scenario to his team’s approach to software development and IT projects, which can usually be completed entirely remotely.
In the past, the stakeholder meetings where tasks and milestones are defined were often held in person. Now, they’re almost entirely remote. Where people might have previously been unsure of how to interact with a remote team, they’re now totally comfortable with it – both thanks to the overall familiarity with remote work and the act of establishing a partnership remotely from to jump.
This is just one use case, but it does seem from Esquival’s experience that the more we as technologists lead the remote adaptation charge, the easier time our clients will have adapting in our footsteps.
To learn more about Esquival’s work, head to www.TECKpert.com. His book The Future of the Workforce is Nowcan be found on Amazon.
That’s it for this week’s dive! As always, I’m available for reactions, insight, and questions at [email protected].
More from MSP Radio
How about our latest videos to catch you up?
Want the Daily News?
All the stories from the daily Business of Tech Podcast are available in the daily digest, and stories are available to everyone for the first five days, and Patreon supporters forever. Catch the audio of the show anytime on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you find podcasts. Links at businessof.tech
Copyright © 2023 MSP Radio, All rights reserved.