Your guide to team development with contractors

Your guide to team development with contractors

Your guide to team development with contractors

All teams – established or brand new – go through changes. At times, contractors need to be brought in to fulfil a specific need with their skills. This can be a real boon to your teams, if it’s handled well and there are plenty of benefits to bringing in contractors besides hitting company objectives.

For instance, integrated, engaged contractors will impart their knowledge and experience on the rest of your team – and build an affinity with your company that could last their entire career. We see this happen often in the world of DevOps, and many of the seasoned Atlassian contractors in our roster have become long-standing partners with most of the firms they’ve worked at.

But there’s always a flipside. Internal teams can feel undermined if the contractor’s role isn’t explained properly, which can impact integration and ultimately, project success. With clear communication and establishing trust in your team, everyone can feel more empowered at each stage of the team’s development.

But what exactly do we mean by team development?

Your team development lifecycle

In 1965, Bruce Tuckman outlined a four-phase model of group development:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing

All teams go through these phases more than once. Even established teams in stage 4 of the team development process will enter the cycle again (albeit partially) when a new member joins the team – and that includes when a contractor is onboarded.

Let’s look at this process more closely.

  1. Forming

This is where everyone’s new – however experienced they are – to the task at hand. It’s a really exciting time, when everything’s fresh and interesting. But there can be a lack of direction, and as-of-yet unknown gaps in skills that need filling.

There’ll be lots of meetings, planning and questions; but the outcome should be a set of defined goals that set your team up for success.

Read more: How to set SMART goals

This is the phase where roles are established and clear goals are defined – to be refined later.

  1. Storming

This can be a painful phase – a stormy one, if you will. This is where your team learns that the goals aren’t as easy as they seemed at first, and that several factors have been underestimated.

This is when it’s time to take stock and reflect on the goals: and make things as simple as possible. Adjust the project goals and milestones, and make each incremental step to success smaller.

Gaps in skills can become very obvious at this point. Onboarding a contractor at this phase can help, as long as the team arrives at the decision and is included in the discussions. Done correctly, without stepping on anyone’s toes, this can also build morale; bringing in a contractor can boost confidence rather than diminish it.

Towards the end of this phase, things really start coming together. The pain was worth it – because it led to team growth, development and a better sense of the collective goal.

  1. Norming

As the name implies, this is where things start feeling “normal”. Everyone knows who’s responsible for what, where to go with any issues and how the process works.

The team has found its feet and productivity is high. There’s a sense of pride, and the quality and frequency of work is exceptional. These are the good times – long may they continue.

But if you take your eyes off the prize, and if you fail to monitor and check in with the team, then complacency can set in. Just because things are working now doesn’t mean they’re going to stay that way forever. With team growth and development, change is inevitable.

If goals are being met but not refreshed, a lack of direction or a sense of pointlessness can take hold. Engagement dips. Productivity falls. New hires are made to pick up the slack – but this is a dangerous scenario to onboard anyone into, not least a contractor.

Attrition is to be expected if this happens. So what can you do?

Listen diligently, but maintain distance. The team knows what they’re doing now, so check in regularly and give them what they need, when they need it – including upping capacity at peak times, or filling skill gaps by hiring contractors. Don’t spoil the vibe by micromanaging, but instead get feedback often. Keep your people engaged and keep them feeling refreshed – and you’ll maintain this flow into the fourth phase.

  1. Performing

This is it. You’re established, scaling up and performing at a sustainable level. Your team trusts each other and management fully, and successes are celebrated together.

It’s not the end of the lifecycle; because with every new member who joins the team, there’ll be a little bit of onboarding (forming), learning the ropes (storming) and getting into a flow (norming) – for everyone in the team.

This is the late stage of team development. It’s a long road to get here – but it’s well worth the journey.

Hire Atlassian contractors – and grow your team

ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors to fit with your business at every stage of growth. Our talent pool is full of the brightest and best Jira and Confluence DevOps professionals, who can add value to your team in so many different ways.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our friendly team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Working remotely with contractors? Head to the Cloud

Working remotely with contractors? Head to the Cloud
Working remotely with contractors? Head to the Cloud

Working remotely with contractors? Head to the Cloud

If lockdowns and office closures over the course of the coronavirus proved anything, it was that working remotely is not only possible, it’s beneficial.

Productivity, work-life balance and employee satisfaction are all improved. Overheads, commuting costs and carbon emissions are cut. Inclusivity is vastly improved, with a far wider talent pool to choose from as a result.

Having the option of remote work keeps employees happy, and gives their employers better work. It’s a major win-win.

Some companies (and their workers) have worried about moving to remote working models. This can stem from a workplace culture that values interactive, live collaboration – or more commonly, it can be due to a lack of trust.

While some elements of collaborative working can translate to remote work, the trust issue is much deeper and harder to resolve. Some solutions include actively monitoring teams – but this is intrusive and creepy, signalling deep distrust of employees. That’s hugely damaging to engagement.

These are outlier cases, though – and most of the world managed to prove that remote working is one of the best ways of working, ever. In fact, many people base their decision to become contractors solely on the ability to work remotely and flexibly.

But there’s definitely a right way to do it, and Cloud solutions enable businesses and contractors to work together seamlessly, no matter where they are in the world.

How the Cloud is helping remote work (especially with contractors)

The Cloud was supposed to revolutionise the way we worked – and now, it looks like that time has come.

Cloud computing and storage solutions enable everyone in a team to collaborate, on a level playing field. With a private Cloud solution, even teams with slower internet connections and older hardware will have ultra-low latency access to powerful virtual workspaces.

This is a far cry from having to share large files over email, or relying on file transfer services. Solutions from Microsoft, Google – and now even an option to migrate to Atlassian Cloud – have streamlined collaborative workflows in a truly revolutionary way.

This is really helpful when working with contractors remotely. For a start, Cloud security is built-in. Access can be granted at a project or admin level, and with the backup and rollback features of Cloud solutions, nothing can ever really be lost – so companies can rest assured sharing their workspaces with contractors.

Cloud tools, including Atlassian Could solutions, are made for collaboration. Cloud computing and storage platforms can be upgraded to the latest hardware and software totally seamlessly – slashing IT costs. Cloud computing lets you automatically scale up whenever you need to, meaning your infrastructure can grow at the exact same rate as your business.

Remote working with contractors does pose some challenges – but, with video conferencing and good management, you can make every project run smoothly.

Onboarding

This is a vital step to working with contractors, remote or otherwise. Give them clear goals to work towards, and help them integrate into their team with icebreakers. These can be done over video conferencing apps, and in group chats on collaborative workspaces like Slack.

Read more: setting SMART goals for contractors

Make sure they have the access and permissions they require to do their work, and all the tools they need to do it, too. Make your contractor feel as welcome to the team as any new starter – and trust in their ability and expertise.

Check in regularly

Team development with contractors can seem tricky, but it follows the same principles. A core requirement for success is regular check-ins; not intrusive interrogations – but a quick “hello, how are you doing today?”.

Find and resolve issues before they become damaging to the project, with simple, understanding communication. Keep goals and milestones updated – but importantly, make sure your contractor feels as valued and listened to as any other part of the team.

Always give them feedback! Even negative feedback can be tactfully delivered to become a motivator. Engaging with contractors like this is a great way to maximise their potential.

Don’t snoop

If you’re thinking of using monitoring tools to snoop on progress, think again. Only 30% of workers are comfortable with being tracked – and that figure may be skewed by those simply agreeing to it to save their jobs.

While monitoring can have positive outcomes, it is overwhelmingly seen as a sign of distrust.

Trust that your contractor knows what to do, and build a rapport that reciprocates that trust – so that they’re comfortable and happy to raise issues with you as they arise.

Trust is a wider workplace culture issue. If it’s low, it can harm individuals, teams and whole businesses.

Getting it right won’t be a quick fix. But with the future firmly set in remote working in the Cloud, it’s one that will benefit every company adopting the remote model.

Hire Atlassian contractors – experienced remote workers

ClearHub finds Atlassian contractors that suit your business best. Our global network includes team players who are remote working specialists; highly aware and tuned to the intricacies of working remotely in the Cloud.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our friendly team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

The Future of Work: Reskill to Survive

The-Future-of-Work-What-is-the-future
The-Future-of-Work-What-is-the-future

The Future of Work: Reskill to Survive

A job used to be for life. 30 years of dedicated service, in the same career, doing the same thing. Every single day.

And that’s what we wanted.

Enough money to support a family and savings for retirement – only starting to really live our lives at the end.

That’s not what work is anymore.

It took a viral pandemic that brought the world to its knees to prove that the future of work isn’t rigid. It’s flexible, adaptable and always evolving with new technology.

And we, as people in work, have to be flexible and adaptable, too.

Skills needs have changed

A friend of mine runs a small department in a well-known national charity. We often talk about the challenges of modern management; running efficient teams and the challenges we can face as leaders.

We chat about everything; recruitment techniques, training, engaging and motivating staff – as well as dealing with “difficult” employees.

Through lockdown, we talked about the challenges of COVID-19, and how the future of work was set to change again. We talked about roles changing, skills shortages – and hopes and fears for the future of work.

One day, he asked me a seemingly simple question:

“What’s the one key thing you look for when hiring new employees?”

I was blindsided. It’s amazing how sometimes, the simplest questions can be the hardest to answer.

I heard myself give vague, waffley, nonsensical answers about the “multitude of skills needed in the modern workforce”.

I rattled on about the “importance of being flexible” and even had a take on how “cognitive diversity is a driving factor”.

Feeling my answers (and confidence) slip away, I grasped at how “motivation and enthusiasm” were the key factors I’d look for, to complement my team.

And my friend tried to hide his smile. To be fair – if someone had given me an answer as bad as that in a job interview, I wouldn’t have invited them back.

Safe to say, this wasn’t my finest hour. I thought about my rambling response for a long time afterwards.

And the question, too. But the question morphed in my mind, into something more pertinent:

“What’s the top skill someone would need to stay employable in the future?”

Many Skills Are Better Than One

As manager of the Innovation team at a rapidly growing tech company, the future of work is a topic I’m very familiar with.

Read more: Futureproof workplaces – the benefits of Cloud for remote working

But by changing the frame of the original question, I realised I already knew the answer.

Everything that I had (somewhat inelegantly) mentioned to my friend was important. But something was missing.

An article by Stephane Kasriel (CEO of Upwork) confirmed my thoughts. In it, he discusses the importance of reskilling:

“…ask yourself: Are my skills still in demand? What’s the outlook for these skills? And what skills could I work on today that would increase my income potential in the coming years?”

This was the missing piece. The one thing that connected all the factors I deemed important in my initial answer.

Put simply, reskilling is the ongoing process of developing your own skills. The pandemic basically forced people down this route – so at first, it didn’t seem as obvious – but then I realised, there’s actually a skill to reskilling. And it’s not something everyone possesses.

The answer to my friend’s original question hit me hard:

The key thing I look for in a new employee is their attitude.

Attitude is Everything

I could argue that everyone in work is constantly improving their skills. But, in order to be skilled at reskilling, a person must be able to recognise their own shortcomings, knowledge gaps and be aware of their working style.

You must have the right attitude for reskilling to work.

Your attitude and approach to reskilling are potentially the largest factors to determine your success.

We all need to be able to ask difficult questions about our skills. Especially in a post-COVID world.

  • Are my skills still in demand?
  • Will they be in demand in 5,10,20 years time?
  • What other skills should I be looking at to increase my value?

Attitude makes up for a lot of shortcomings on paper.

I would personally take an inexperienced individual with the right attitude over a more experienced counterpart, every single time.

Because, being driven and proactive enough to take responsibility for your own learning – and flexible enough to make changes where necessary – is critical in work. Actually, it’s critical in life.

It’s no good waiting for disruption to catch up with you before you realise you need to evolve.

No matter if you’re talking about contractors, full time employees, interns or CEOs – I would argue that knowing how to reskill and upskill yourself, and working to make sure you have the right attitude, is going to become the most powerful combination you can possess for surviving in the future.

And so, in answer to my friend:

The top thing needed to succeed in the future is the skill of reskilling – with the right attitude.

After all, an employee who is willing to invest time and training into themselves will continue to be a credit to their employer, now and in the future.h

Hire Atlassian contractors – experienced remote workers

ClearHub finds top Atlassian contractors, equipped for the future of work. Our global network is made up of skilled, adaptable and flexible DevOps professionals: the kind of people who never stop learning.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our friendly team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

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How to set goals for contractors: think SMART

How to set goals for contractors: think SMART
How to set goals for contractors: think SMART

How to set goals for contractors: think SMART

We all want to be successful in what we do. But to be successful, we’ve first got to define what success is – otherwise, we’re just working aimlessly.

Think of it like this; you get in your car, and you start driving – with no destination in mind. Where are you going? Where will you end up? What’s the outcome going to be?

Sure – you might have a nice drive. Or you might get hopelessly lost. Most likely, you’ll probably just decide to go home, and be right back where you started, only with less fuel and less time in your day.

But, if you knew where you were going, you could plan your journey – and get a step-by-step roadmap to where you want to go. You’d find your way there, even though you’d never been there before.

Setting goals works exactly like that. Knowing what you want to achieve is the absolute bedrock of success, no matter what you’re doing. You need to know what your end goal is, and then create a roadmap to achieving it.

With your internal teams, goals are likely to be established and well-known. But with contractors, they’re coming in from the outside – and it’s all going to be new to them. Don’t just sit them in the car and tell them to drive: integrate, motivate and engage your contractors, by giving them a simple, clear, achievable path to success.

And the best way to set goals for contractors is to think SMART.

SMART goals

SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Each goal is written around these five simple rules. By setting SMART goals, you and your team will know exactly what needs to be accomplished and when. You’ll know if you’re on track, or if you’ve hit setbacks. Best of all – you’ll all know when you’ve succeeded.

Specific

The more specific, the better. Otherwise, your goals will be too wooly and difficult to measure. You need smaller, more concrete objectives to aim for. A goal like “launch new versions faster” can be made specific by breaking it down into separate, mini goals – like  “improve development workflows”, or “reduce testing times”.

Yes, you now have more goals – but they’re smaller. This makes every step easier to make, and gives your contractor a more actionable timeline towards achieving the end goal.

Measurable

A goal like “reduce testing times” might be specific, but to be measurable you need to quantify it. Let’s say you want to focus on reducing testing time to aid your end goal of faster version launches. By making the contractor’s goal to “reduce testing times by 20%”, they now have a solid benchmark to check themselves against.

Achievable

Realistic goals need to be set – but you might not know how realistic your goal is until you start working towards it. Sticking with the specific goal of reduced testing times – let’s say 20% was a little optimistic, and even with after overhauling your company’s testing process, testing time has so far been reduced by 12%.

That’s okay – there’s still an improvement – but importantly, you can assess the goal at this stage and scale it back to something more achievable; say, 15%.

This can be a good motivator, too. It shows leadership is listening, is part of the process and trusts that the contractor is doing a good job. Adapting to the reality of the goals you’ve set is far more effective than grinding to achieve something unattainable.

Relevant

What would achieving the goal mean to you? Why is the goal important, and what benefit will it bring to the company? This is your reason for doing it, the key motivator that you want your contractors to engage with.

Time-bound

Each goal and mini goal must have a deadline. This is when you stop, look at the results and assess whether the project was a success. Without deadlines, the work will never be finished – but make them realistic, and listen to your contractor when they give you their thoughts on timescales needed to achieve the goal.

What your SMART goal might look like

Using our example, our goal might look like this:

S – We want to cut software testing time

M – By 20%

A – Scaled back to 15% after review

R – This will lead to faster launches, and more happy customers

T – We want to achieve this by end of Q3

Or, in a paragraph:

Our goal is to cut our software testing time by 15%, by the end of September. The Contractor will accomplish this goal by [outline each step as mini goals]. Accomplishing this goal will lead to faster launches, happier customers and more sales this financial year.

Keeping tabs on progress

Set regular check-ins with your contractor – to make sure they’re happy with the work, on-track to hit the goal and to find out if they need anything to help them do their job.

Measuring along the way will help you keep the goals achievable, and you can scale up or scale back as appropriate. Importantly, it’ll be motivating for your internal team and your contractors to see how much progress is being made – and that they are being listened to along the way to reaching the goal.

Hire Atlassian contractors – reach your DevOps goals

ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors to meet your business goals. We understand what it takes to help businesses integrate contractors into their teams, and work together to achieve your desired outcomes. Want to know more? Get in touch with our friendly team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech

How businesses can deal with IT skills shortages

How businesses can deal with IT skills shortages

The technology sector is incredibly dynamic and the demand for IT professionals is at an all-time high. Businesses of all different sizes are seeking skilled IT workers to help them grow and expand, yet over 70% of tech firms are facing skills shortages. In our guide, we’ve outlined some of the issues skills gaps can cause and how businesses can cope accordingly through targeted recruitment, contractors, training and improving their hiring processes.

What is the state of the skills shortage?

A report from Robert Walters highlighted that around 70% of employers expect there to be a shortage and 24% of these businesses anticipate this to have a big impact on their recruitment. Due to a lack of education and training, IT vacancies are often difficult to fill and over half of employers have difficulty in finding the right technical skills for the roles they have available.

The most common reasons for these skills gaps are that there is too much of a demand for higher salaries from developers and this impacts companies through resource constraints. There’s also a significant lack of talent in the market, both in terms of the experience candidates have and the quantity of people gaining the necessary skills. As demand rises and technology evolves, this will only get worse unless more people are encouraged to join the IT sector.

Sector-specific qualifications and training is essential to ensure that employees have the core skills necessary to adapt to the emerging technologies in the industry, but this is lacking in the current job market. In many cases, employers are also finding that applicants may have the certifications but lack the hands-on experience to cope with the challenges of the workplace.

Specialists often can’t keep up with the continual demand for development and IT skills, as the market is moving at such a rapid rate. There’s also an issue for many businesses in that there’s a belief that the recruitment process takes too long where tech roles are concerned, which slows up access and operations for companies.

What does this mean for companies?

There are many disadvantages for companies when it comes to facing IT skills shortages, not least financial losses. Firstly, it makes it more difficult for businesses to scale their efforts and keep up with business demands, which is particularly worrying for smaller businesses trying to make an impact among their competitors.

It also means that businesses are likely to have application developments building up that can’t be dealt with, which hinders efficiency and growth.  A lack of skilled workers makes it harder for businesses to meet the expectations of their customers and clients, resulting in a number of businesses struggling to keep up with demand for their services.

software developer

What are the top skills in demand?

One of the primary skills in demand in the IT sector is cybersecurity, with over half of hiring professionals focusing on this skillset. But CTOs and software development are also required in huge numbers, along with business intelligence experts and data management professionals. Businesses have also been in need of cloud computing professionals in recent years, as well as project management staff. IT professionals in these fields are likely to be the most sought-after over the coming years, especially as the technology landscape evolves.

How can businesses overcome these challenges?

Employers need to pay attention to the specific needs of the industry they operate in and take a multi-levelled approach when it comes to tackling skills shortages, in order to attract the best talent and, more importantly, retain them. There are several options that businesses can take advantage of to alleviate the pressures from the skills shortage.

Train existing employees

One of the simplest options for businesses looking to make up for a shortage of skilled candidates is to train their existing employees in the necessary skills. This can be done in a number of ways, from training in-house via knowledgeable employees transferring their expertise to colleagues who are willing and eager to learn. Or to invest in online training where employees can gain qualifications and knowledge from third parties.

Naturally, the latter requires more of a financial investment from the business, but it can certainly pay off in the long term and ensures staff are trained in the relevant areas specific to your business. One of the benefits of upskilling existing staff is that they are already familiar with the company, its goals and its processes, which can streamline the process and enables companies to benefit sooner from the skills acquired.

Use contractors

Contingent workers such as freelancers and contractors can help businesses fill huge gaps in their operation in a cost-effective way and offers a near-instant resolution to the problem. Working with contractors makes it possible to really target specific skills and requirements within your business and it’s becoming an increasingly popular option for many companies.

The flexibility, availability and experience that contractors provide makes it possible for companies to find the ideal fit for their budget, projects and deadlines. And unlike a lot of areas of the job market, the number of contractors and freelancers is on the rise, which means that you have greater access to the people who meet your company’s needs.

Improve the hiring process

Hiring new talent is an obvious solution when it comes to skills shortages, but organisations need to not only find the right talent but also improve their hiring processes to fulfil this need. Hiring externally can be challenging when it comes to niche skill sets so the recruitment process needs to accommodate this accordingly.

This can be done in several ways, from gauging how much candidates know about the business, open-ended questions to test creativity and critical thinking, and testing their communication skills through questions about their passions and interests. Recruitment is a costly endeavour, so it’s vital that adding a new member to the IT team is the right fit for both parties.

Partner with education facilities

Partnering up with colleges, universities or training facilities provides access to skilled workers who are looking to gain experience, fulfilling the needs of both the business and the worker. What’s more, if they’re a good fit within the business, there’s potential to take them on full-time when their apprenticeship or graduate placement is over. This can be a budget-friendly way for companies to address the skills shortage.

Focus on retention

When your business is struggling to find new talent, it’s not in a position to lose the skilled workers that it has. With this in mind, one of the key ways to overcome skills shortages within your company is to focus on staff retention and ensure that the employees you have are encouraged to stay.

And this doesn’t necessarily mean paying your staff more – there are other benefits you can provide to set your business apart as a great employer. From flexible working opportunities to recognition through increased annual leave allowance or incentives, there are various ways that you can reduce staff turnover and maintain the skilled people on your team.

Understand where to look for candidates

Tech professionals often liaise with recruitment agencies when they want to transition to a new role, and many would consider temporary or contract positions given that contractors are growing in popularity for businesses. But there are often discrepancies between where candidates look for roles and where employers are recruiting.

Many professionals, for example, use online job boards to seek out vacancies while fewer employers usually advertise for tech roles here. Likewise, a large proportion of candidates will look to LinkedIn for positions while far fewer employers post jobs using this channel. Understanding where you’re more likely to find potential hires is incredibly important when it comes to hiring for niche skills, as otherwise you could be missing out on great candidates.

Final thoughts

Closing the IT skills gap is a complicated task that hasn’t been made any easier by the pandemic. But as organisations pursue a digital-first approach, having a skilled workforce is imperative. Whether your company invests in existing staff to upskill them, hires contractors to fill the gap for specific needs within the business, or looks to improve hiring processes and staff retention practices to hold on the staff you have, it’s clear that companies need to reassess their hiring endeavours.

Companies looking to hire contractors to help them on projects and business operations should contact ClearHub – we help businesses gain access to the best talent and the right tech skills.

Get in touch

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    Ultimate guide to recruiting remote staff

    Ultimate guide to recruiting remote staff

    Remote working has become increasingly popular for businesses across a host of industries, and it offers numerous benefits not just for employers but also for staff. The rise in collaborative technology has made it easier than ever to work as part of a team from any location in the world.

    In our ultimate guide to remote recruitment, we’ll cover the characteristics and skills that remote employees should have, how to hire remote candidates, and tools that remote teams can benefit from.

    Benefits of hiring remote staff

    For businesses, hiring remote staff can help to cut costs such as equipment or office costs. In fact, the savings can be so vast that some businesses have opted to work entirely remotely, enabling them to cut these costs entirely.

    Hiring remotely also enables companies to expand their talent pool considerably, as you’re not restricted to candidates who live within a set distance of the office. For firms who are seeking candidates for niche roles or requiring a specific skillset, this makes finding the ideal employee much easier.

    In fact, a survey conducted by tech platform Dice found that tech job seekers were primarily looking for two things when searching for a new role – healthcare benefits and the ability to work remotely. And with the demand for tech roles expected to rise by over 20% by 2028, being able to offer remote working to new candidates could make the hiring process easier.

    Studies have shown that remote staff are actually more engaged and productive than in-house employees, with a Global Workplace Analytics study finding that 53% of remote workers are more likely to work overtime compared to just 28% of in-office staff.

    The flexibility that remote working offers to employees can be an advantage, helping to improve morale and enabling them to create a better work-life balance. This in turn can improve employee retention rates and remove the risk of losing staff to relocation.

    remote working developer

    Qualities to look for when hiring remote employees

    As with any hire, there are certain qualities you need to look for when assessing applicants for a remote position.

    Communication skills – Strong communication skills are at the core of any effective team, and it’s one of the top soft skills that employers should be looking for when hiring any employee, but particularly for remote roles. Remote employees need to be responsive and able to maintain regular contact with their colleagues in order to foster effective collaboration.

    Organisation skills – Since remote staff will be working unsupervised, they need to be able to stay on top of their to-do lists and manage projects efficiently. Applicants need to be able to organise their time to ensure everything is completed to deadline and be able to adapt as new tasks come up.

    Technical skills – In addition to any job-related tech skills, remote workers need to be tech savvy in general to be able to adapt to collaborative tools, such as Slack or Google Docs. Part of the recruitment process should be gauging the skill level for the tools used within the team to ensure new hires can get started quickly.

    Reliability – Without seeing them every day and ensuring they’re staying productive, it’s vital that businesses can rely on the people they hire. It’s a difficult characteristic to assess in an interview setting, but it’s important to hire people that you can trust to do what they say they can.

    Self-motivation – Remote employees need to be self-motivated to get through tasks without someone monitoring their progress each day, as well as being proactive to resolve issues as they arise. Are they autonomous and happy to work with minimal supervision?

    Flexibility – Issues come up all the time that are unexpected and can’t be planned for, especially in a tech role, so you need to be able to rely on your staff to adapt accordingly. A remote hire needs to be able to work effectively with people in different teams and potentially different time zones, so flexibility is key.

    Responsiveness to feedback – There may be occasions when an employee’s work isn’t quite up to the standard the company expects or a project hasn’t gone to plan. In these circumstances, you may need to be able to provide feedback or constructive criticism, so it’s important that the person you hire is able to take that feedback on board and react appropriately.

    How to prepare for remote recruitment

    While hiring remote staff doesn’t require a complete departure from your standard onboarding process, there are some considerations to make before you start recruiting to help minimise pitfalls in the recruitment journey.

    Work with contractors

    If you’re new to the world of remote hiring, it can be a daunting prospect for your business. But hiring remote contractors can be a great way of seeing if working with remote employees is a good fit for your company and processes, as well as giving you valuable experience when it comes to hiring someone on a permanent basis.

    Determine the remote position you’re hiring for

    The first step to hiring a remote employee is to work out the type of role you’re hiring for – will they work remotely 100% of the time? Do you need them to work full-time or part-time? Do you need the employee to be able to work from different offices on occasion? These questions will help you establish what the role will look like to help you create a policy for remote working.

    Are there specific time zones you need to hire in?

    Time zones are important for effective collaboration in the business, in terms of video calls and meetings, as well as real-time conversations on projects. While there are tools that you can use to allow for asynchronous collaboration, it can be beneficial to be able to hop on a call with an employee if you need to, so weigh up how important this is for the role and the team.

    Pick the tech stack

    It’s crucial that each member of the team can work productively, no matter where they’re situated, so they need to be proficient in the tools your business uses day to day. From video conferencing and chat applications to project management and file management tools, and specific tools for the role, make sure the tech stack is chosen before you start interviewing candidates.

    Where to look for remote candidates

    Over the past 5 years, LinkedIn have reported a 78% increase in job postings highlighting work flexibility, with a large spike in the last 3 years. Companies who can provide this benefit are at an advantage over those who don’t.

    But knowing where to look for remote candidates can be difficult, especially if you’re recruiting for tech roles such as DevOps positions where recruitment can be challenging. In addition to your own company site and blog, there are other ways to recruit remotely and find new candidates for open positions.

    Employee referrals

    One of the most effective ways to hire remote employees is to look to your existing staff for referrals. In fact, research suggests that referrals are one of the best ways to hire new staff, reducing your recruitment time and helping to save the business money on agency fees and advertising costs.

    Social media

    A large proportion of businesses now use some form of social media to recruit new candidates and advertise for positions, and a quarter of all job seekers use social media to find new roles. The likes of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can be a great way of advertising remote job postings and sharing new vacancies.

    Remote job boards

    It can also be beneficial to look beyond the usual networks such as LinkedIn and find specialist platforms where niche positions are concerned, such as GitHub or Hacker News. In addition to including remote working within the job description, there are also sites you can look to when seeking prospective employees.

     

    Questions to ask when interviewing candidates for a remote role

    The interview process for hiring remote candidates differs slightly than for in-person applicants, in part because there are specific skills and qualities that remote staff need to have in order to work successfully. With this in mind, it makes sense to tailor the screening process accordingly. There are some questions you should ask when interviewing potential remote staff:

    What skills are important for remote workers?

    A practical remote worker will know that the answer to this question is more than simply being organised. An applicant should be able to highlight a more specific skillset such as taking a proactive approach to tasks and projects, strong problem-solving skills and excellent communication.

    Does the concept of remote working raise any concerns?

    This question allows you to gauge their feelings around working remotely, particularly if this is the first time they will be working away from the main office. There are always going to be challenges with remote working, so if the candidate doesn’t acknowledge these and simply glosses over the question, that could be a cause for concern.

    How do they stay productive?

    It’s important that the applicant won’t find being at home too distracting, so it can be useful to listen to the ways that they plan to stay productive and organised when they’re at home, and how they will overcome any distractions.

    Ways they avoid miscommunication

    Communication is one of the most important skills to have as a remote worker, as they won’t be able to read body language or tone of voice like they would in-person. Likewise, being part of a distributed team means there’s the potential to miss conversations or key pieces of information. It can be helpful to understand how the applicant will overcome this problem and how they will address it if it happens.

    When do they work best?

    One of the key benefits to working remotely is being able to determine your own schedule. Not everyone works efficiently during the standard 9-5 working hours, so it can be useful to know when the applicant works best and how they would manage deadlines and projects with this in mind.

    Contact us

    Remote recruitment is on the rise and more businesses are seeing the advantages that it can provide, in terms of adaptability, access to skilled individuals and the money it can save. If you need help sourcing skilled remote staff for tech positions, ClearHub can help. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

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      There’s never been a better time to add a contractor to your team

      There's never been a better time to add a contractor to your team
      There's never been a better time to add a contractor to your team

      There’s never been a better time to add a contractor to your team

      Remote working has taken over this past year, as we’ve all had to make changes to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

      Although it may have started as a necessity, many businesses and individuals have realised the benefits that remote work can bring, and are looking to continue to incorporate it into their normal routines going forward. 

      But remote work doesn’t just benefit full time employees. There can also be a large number of benefits for contractors, and the teams that hire them.

      Read on to see some of the ways hiring a remote contractor could benefit your team.

      No travel costs

      In the past, technical contractors had to accept that there would be a certain amount of travelling required to do their job, as many employers would want them on site to complete projects. 

      In order to get the best person for the job, employers might have had to cover travel costs and maybe even the cost of living if contractors would be working away from home. 

      Embracing remote work means that your contractors can work from their own homes, creating significant savings for your company. Contractors will also benefit from the added convenience and better work life balance, and may be more willing to negotiate on sticking points such as salary and length of contract. 

      Unlimited talent pool

      If you’re willing to take on remote contractors, then your talent search is no longer limited by the contractors who live near enough or are willing to travel to your offices. This opens your search up to contractors anywhere in the world, and means you’re much more likely to find the right person to fill your role particularly when you’re looking for highly skilled, technical talent.

      At ClearHub we work with a wide network of contractors located across the world, and our experience in placing highly skilled talent has shown that the right skill set and personality are often greater factors in a great contractor experience than physical location.

      It also means more opportunities for contractors who are unable to travel, and the chance to work with companies that they are passionate about.

      Team integration

      In the past, hiring a remote contractor while the rest of your team worked from the office may have led to a lack of connection between colleagues, impacting how well your team collaborated.

      After the past year, where so many workers have experienced remote working first hand and businesses have placed a great deal of emphasis on giving their employees the best tools to collaborate, this is likely to be less of an issue. 

      Using video conferencing and instant messaging software that has already become integrated into their daily routines, it will be much easier for your teams to connect with a new contractor, and work with them to complete projects.  

      Proven productivity

      In the past, some companies may have been reluctant to embrace remote work if they were unsure how it would affect productivity levels in their teams. Hiring managers may have also avoided remote contractors as they may find it harder to verify their skills, or to trust that they would be able to provide the quality of work promised.

      Not only has the past year shown us that people are able to adapt quickly to working from home, but it has also demonstrated that many people are able to be just as productive, if not more productive, in their home environments.

      Additionally, if you choose to hire a contractor through ClearHub you can have the added peace of mind that your contractor has been professionally vetted, skills checked, and will have the support of our technical team to help them while working on your projects.

      How can we help?

      At ClearHub we specialise in placing Atlassian and Agile contractors with teams, and are able to provide support and security to you and your contractor throughout the placement.

      As a team of software experts, we started ClearHub when we identified a need in the market for specialised, short term contract work and realised we were in the best position to help. 

      Not only are we able to understand the challenges and dynamic of software teams to a far greater level than an average recruiter, but we can also technically test all our contractors before they are placed, giving our clients peace of mind when they hire through us.

      We are even able to go one step further and offer technical support to the contractor throughout the placement. This means that if they face any unexpected challenges they’ll be able to turn to us for advice and support and avoid disrupting your team or delaying your projects.

      The added testing, security and support we offer makes it easy to take on remote contractors, and leave you able to enjoy the benefits that this can bring without any added worries.

      Do you think a remote contractor could fit into your team? If you’re looking to hire Atlassian or other agile contractors, we can help you find the right fit. Give us a call on  02381 157811 or use the form below to reach out and learn more about our services.

      Get in touch

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        Everything you need to know about Atlassian’s plans for a future in the Cloud

        Everything you need to know about Atlassian’s plans for a future in the Cloud

        Last year, Atlassian announced a shift in focus to cloud and data center products. Effectively, this spells the end for Atlassian Server products, but there’s still a fair way to go before the final goodbye.

        Although the move to cloud may still seem daunting for some businesses, particularly those with large, well established server instances, there’s plenty of support available.

        Not only are Atlassian doing all they can to make the migration as smooth as possible for their customers, with a highly skilled contractor from ClearHub, your move to the cloud couldn’t be more straightforward.

        Here’s everything you need to know about the end of Atlassian Server, what’s to come for Data Center and Cloud, and some next steps you should take to safeguard the future of your tools.


        The end of Atlassian Server

        February 2, 2021 – Earlier this month, Atlassian officially stopped selling licensing for server products. If you have an existing Server licence, you may continue to purchase and receive maintenance and support for up to three years.

        The price of existing server licenses also increased on this date, to ensure Atlassian are able to provide security and maintenance on the server platform. (Fisheye/Crucible users and those who purchased Jira Software, Jira Core and or Confluence on or after the 2nd of October 2019 will not be affected)

        May 1st, 2021 – After this date, no new Server applications will be listed on the Atlassian Marketplace. Existing customers can continue purchasing Server apps until the 2nd of Feb 2023.

        February 2nd, 2024 – Three years on from the end of server sales, you will no longer be able to renew and receive maintenance and support for your licenses. Any renewals for apps will also be set to end on this date. 


        What’s to come – Data Center

        New apps included in subscription – The following Atlassian built apas are now included with a Data Center subscription:

        • Advanced Roadmaps (formerly Portfolio for Jira) in Jira Software Data Center.
        • Team Calendars for Confluence in Confluence Data Center
        • Analytics for Confluence in Confluence Data Center
        • Insight – Asset Management in Jira Service Management Data Center.
        • Insight Discovery in Jira Service Management Data Center.Price change – On February 2nd 2021, a price increase came into effect for new and existing DC subscriptions, to reflect the value of investments.


        Priority Support –  Priority Support will now be included with all Data Center subscriptions (with the exception of Bitbucket subscriptions with less than 251 users).

        Loyalty Discount – The Data Center loyalty discount has replaced the now discontinued Server to Data Center crossgrade credits. The discount will aid server users in their transition to Data Center and provide a multi-year offer on licensing for Data Center. 

        Community and Classroom Licensing – In response to customer feedback, Atlassian has introduced free community subscriptions for Data Center. This means that the creation of a DC quote will be converted to licensing for community or classroom and Marketplace apps in the instance will automatically receive the discount. 

        Server community customers with active app installs will have the choice to migrate to Cloud with a 75% discount or Data Center with a 100% discount.

        Bamboo Data Center (Coming soon) – Atlassian plan to make Bamboo Data Center available in the near future.


        What’s to come – Atlassian Cloud

        Cloud Enterprise – From February 2nd 2021 Atlassian’s Cloud Enterprise plan went live and is now available to purchase.

        Data residency update –  Atlassian soon hope to make data residency options available to customers planning to migrate to the Cloud, with more details to follow.

        Advanced Change Management – New

        • Release Tracks: Cloud Enterprise admins can now manage product releases and batching duration.They can enjoy greater flexibility while learning new updates, testing existing workflows and configurations, and preparing training and support for your users.
        • Sandbox: Allows you to test apps and preview changes in an isolated sandbox environment before rolling them out. Premium and Enterprise plan customers can initiate one sandbox per product instance for as many instances as they have. Information on data cloning and the ability to copy data from production to sandbox for Jira Software and Confluence to follow.

        Cloud bundled apps – coming soon

        • Insight: Between March and April 2021, Insight capabilities will be integrated into the Jira Service Management Premium and Enterprise plans. Insight Discovery will become a free Atlassian Marketplace app and used with Insight on a site that has Jira Service Management Premium or Enterprise licensed users.
        • Team Calendars: Team Calendars for Confluence Cloud is now a standard feature of Confluence Cloud Premium, and is no longer available to purchase as a separate add-on to Confluence.

        Your next steps

        While Atlassian’s timeline still allows plenty of time for Server customers to plan what to do next, acting sooner rather than later can help you ensure the best outcome for your business. 

        Our expert Atlassian contractors can help you with all aspects of cloud migration, and will ensure that the whole process runs as smoothly as possible for you and your teams. As well as technical migration support, our contractors will be able to deliver on-site training and can work with you to make sure you’re getting the best from your Atlassian tools.

        At ClearHub, not only do we connect businesses with top industry experts, but we ensure every contractor we place is skill vetted and has the right technical support in place to make every project a success.

        Use the form below to find out more about how we can help place the right contractor with your team.

        Get in touch

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          How to manage a mix of staff and contractors

          How to manage a mix of staff and contractors

          Businesses should be constantly looking for ways to adapt and change with the times. This means not only moving with the market they operate in and keeping up-to-date with modern technology, but something more fundamental; how to get the most out of their team. 

          It is no longer the case that the workforce is made up entirely of people interested in 9 to 5 Monday to Friday working shifts. Remote employees, part-time staff, flexible working, casual working and more, are commonplace, and this can be hugely beneficial, not only to members of staff, but to employers too. 

          One of the fastest growing trends is the use of contractors. Contractors are typically brought in because they are able to offer specific expertise that a business only requires for a single project or for a short time. This could include everything from DevOps specialists to digital transformation consultants.

          It can also be extremely useful for businesses working in more difficult financial times to avoid having large long-term payroll obligations, providing extra flexibility for the company’s costs. But of course, it can come with challenges too. And one of the largest issues is how to successfully manage and integrate contractors with your staff. Here we take a look at some of the ways to do this. 

          Ensure you take the time to onboard contractors properly

          Some employers make the mistake of thinking that a strong onboarding process is only required for payroll employees. Actually, while contractors can just turn up and get on with the job it is just important for them to go through a thorough onboarding process.

          Whether you are bringing in Atlassian specialists for a very specific project or a cloud contractor to overhaul your way of working, every person who is going to work for your business needs to understand how you operate. 

          Avoid an us-vs-them mentality

          You need to ensure that your staff don’t feel in competition with contractors or vice-versa. Make sure that staff are aware of the specific reasons that contractors and being brought in – and treat contractors as much as possible like they are members of the team working towards shared goals.

          Even if they have only been hired for a short time, while they are working for your company, contractors valued for the important input that they are having on the business. 

          Manage performance the same way as you would your staff

          Good performance is just as important for contractors as it is for members of staff. Good quality work should be praised and rewarded, just as it would with an employed member of staff. 

          Conversely, contractors may need guidance and assistance on occasion. Ensure that whoever is managing your contractor staff is available to talk and provide help whenever the contractor needs it. 

          Communication is everything

          Contractors may be typically brought in to simply get on with a specific task. But this overlooks the fact that in properly managing contractors and getting the best out of them, your business must prioritise communication. 

          Ensure that you are in constant communication with your contractors to understand where they are with their project, as well as to understand any issues that they might be facing, and providing assistance where it is needed. Contractors should be involved in team meetings where they can bring up points with the relevant people. You should also take the time to speak to them individually. 

          Think towards the future

          Just because you have brought in a contractor for a short time or for a specific project, it doesn’t mean that this has to be the only time that you ever work with them. On the contrary, it is often the case that contractors will come into your business as an outsider and may have great ideas for other things that you can do or improvements that you can make.

          It’s a great idea to establish a really positive relationship with all of the contractors that you work with – it may be the case that you want to have them back sooner than you imagine, and you will want to be on good terms with them. 

          At ClearHub, we specialise in helping businesses find the contractors they need to provide their team with specific skills. Specialising in Atlassian, Jira and DevOps contractors, we understand how to help businesses integrate contractors into their employed teams. If you would like to learn more about what we can do for you business, or to hire a contractor as a soon as possible, contact our friendly team today. 

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