How to build a virtual team for your small business

By George Fironov

If you haven’t managed remote employees before, it might seem a daunting job at first. But that’s not the case. Remote work is the best option for small businesses thanks to its flexibility and efficiency. It gives you access to a huge talent pool, and enables you to find and hire employees with just the right combination of skills and experience to benefit your project. Here is a short guide with the most essential advice for finding, hiring, and managing virtual teams.

Finding remote employees

The first part of building your virtual team is pretty straightforward. To find remote employees, you can:

Leverage your network — post on Linkedin and Facebook, ask close colleagues with a personal message, let people know that you’re looking for a remote employee

Use remote job marketplaces — post your job ad and browse candidates on sites like or Remote.ok

Use outstaffing — find a “middleman” company that will source, screen, and provide candidates for you, like we do at Talmatic

The best employee for the job

Screening remote employees doesn’t have to be harder than it is during in-house hiring. But it does mean that you need to be looking for different traits. The first thing is that good candidates should have previous remote work experience. Next, they should be great communicators both in writing and speaking. If they keep you waiting weeks for a response, or can’t write an email without blatant mistakes, then they’re not the right candidate. The third trait of a great remote candidate is a decent and public portfolio. For writers, that means published articles. For graphic designers, it can be a rich profile on Behance, or a rich profile on GitHub for software developers. Lastly, the best way to test the skills of a remote employee is to give a test task. It enables you to see if they can keep deadlines, as well as evaluate the quality of their work.

Ways to hire remote employees

Once you find the right candidate, there are generally three ways to hire them:

Handshake agreement — in case of low-risk and low-budget jobs (graphic design, writing, etc.), a contract can slow you down and cause more trouble than benefit, especially if the person you’re hiring is transparent and has a decent portfolio. I work with multiple freelancers on a regular basis and without a contract, because I know I can trust them.

Contract — when budgets are bigger and more is at stake (like hiring a developer to build an MVP), both you and your employee should think about protecting yourselves. The margin of error is much smaller, and mistakes will be more costly. There’s no room for miscommunication. Drawing up a proper contract will ensure that you, and your employee, are on the same page.

Through a middleman — remote employee marketplaces are usually built as platforms that enable you to hire, communicate with, and pay remote employees all in one place. A big benefit here is that you’re automatically protected by the contract that both you and the employee sign when you use the platform. Outstaffing companies offer a similar benefit, but in a different way. We take the sourcing, screening, and hiring parts away from the equation, providing clients with remote employees for them to manage.

Managing remote employees for maximum efficiency

Overseeing a virtual team isn’t harder, but requires a different approach than in-house team management. Smart use of communication and project management tools becomes essential. You need to determine which channel is right for different types of communication. For example: email for low-priority information, and personal message on Slack for time-sensitive updates. To know how your team is doing at all times, you need to enforce a process for task management. Simply choosing a tool is not enough, if your employees don’t know how to add and describe their tasks, how often to update task progress, or when you consider a task finished.

Remote work isn’t just a way to cut costs

It’s important to remember that building a virtual team isn’t a way to cut costs. At the very least, that shouldn’t be your main goal for switching from and in-house team to a virtual one. Switching to a virtual team forces you to streamline your management process, and refine team communication and task management, thus improving the efficiency of your business. Improving your business should be the ultimate goal.

Don’t be a bottleneck in your workflow

When managing remote employees, a natural tendency is to try and oversee everything at all times. But that’s not an efficient way to manage virtual teams. Instead of having to greenlight every little change in a project, it’s better to prepare detailed task requirements so the worker knows exactly what, and when, they need to do. This way you don’t have to micromanage them. Finally, if you want remote employees to be transparent and communicative, then you need to be the same. Enforce best communication practices by using them yourself everyday.


George Fironov is a seasoned entrepreneur, co-founder of software development outstaffing service Talmatic, and remote work proponent.

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