Atlassian alternatives: tools that (kind of) work the same

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Atlassian alternatives: tools that (kind of) work the same

The tech-first world we live in might never have been, were it not for Atlassian.

Atlassian’s product family includes some of the most advanced productivity platforms and software tooling systems, all intimately linked. Every tool works together seamlessly, facilitating everything from DevOps to Payroll, and from support tickets to marketing plans.

But Atlassian isn’t the only player in the game. There are alternative platforms outside of the Atlassian stack. So, what Atlassian alternatives are there – and should you be using them?

Alternatives to Atlassian tools

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” – Newton’s third law.

This happens in software all the time, too. For instance, Microsoft’s local email client, Outlook, was turned into Hotmail – a browser-based email platform. Then Google came along and dominated the market with Gmail by simply zigging where Microsoft had zagged: Google chose simplicity over Microsoft’s complexity.

Everyone got into the email game, with different spins on the same channel: enhanced privacy, or enhanced personalisation. Platforms evolved and diverged down their own paths – and whichever one you adopted early became the one you stuck with.

Now, there’s more choice than ever – and the lines between functionality are becoming blurred. No matter which platform you choose, you’re likely going to get a great product.

And this goes for Atlassian’s rivals, too. The Atlassian stack has so many advantages (which we’ll cover shortly), but it doesn’t exist in isolation.

Read more: The Atlassian Stack: All the tools – and how to use them

So, what alternative tools are there to Atlassian’s offering?

Jira alternatives

Jira is a workflow management tool – it lets you track tasks from start to finish. Tasks can be assigned to users with a due date, and given a custom status like pending, in progress, or on hold. Jira comes in a variety of flavours suited to software development or service management, but each variant is flexible and adaptable.

Basecamp

If you work in tech, you’ve probably used this platform before. Basecamp is a do-anything project management platform, with simple tasks and to-do lists, messaging, file sharing, and task assignment. It falls far short of Jira’s personalisation and integrations – but for most non-development focused, or multidisciplinary organisations, it’s more than enough.

Asana

Asana facilitates communication and collaboration across the entire project management team, and has many similarities to Jira. It is growing in adoption, and supports agile project management through boards. It has an activity feed, allows user permissions, and works as a calendar. Asana has an internal messaging platform, and it’s likely that email reliant businesses will bounce between their email client and Asana, as it doesn’t easily integrate with email.

Notion

Notion is a super-basic but refreshingly useful all-in-one platform. Notion lets users create documents, manage projects, create tasks, and practise the kanban method – all from one place. Templates are simple, but powerful, meaning projects can be set up and run in a few clicks. Simplicity is also its biggest weakness, and power users accustomed to Jira’s flexibility and app integrations might struggle. For generalists, though, Notion is a huge productivity booster.

Monday.com

A well-marketed and powerful project management and productivity powerhouse, Monday.com promises users the simplest GUI – and it delivers. For general project management and single-minded focus Monday.com is almost unbeatable; but it’s far less flexible. And, while it can integrate with Jira, the cost alone could make Monday.com out of reach for most smaller organisations.

Confluence alternatives

Confluence is a collaborative team workspace. It’s a knowledge collection and sharing hub, where all documentation can be stored. It’s like Wikipedia, but just for your organisation. Of course, this isn’t a unique offering, and the competition in this space is pretty fierce.

Google Docs

This has become the de facto file creation and sharing platform of the decade. It is infinitely flexible: it translates Word documents to Google Docs and vice versa, outputs to the most popular document formats, and integrates well with almost any platform you can imagine. It has excellent permissions and sharing features – and it’s completely free to use, up to 15GB of data. But anyone who has collaborated in Google Docs will know how messy it can get, and live updates are ropey-looking at best. Useful, but not very slick.

Slack

One of the greatest unicorn stories in history, Slack is what other workspace platforms aspire to be. The UI is as perfect as we’ve ever seen. It comes ready to integrate with any other productivity tool and document creation platform, and it is deeply customisable without ever being intimidating. Global internal comms have never been easier to manage. It “just works”. But it’s essentially a chat platform, with extra features. It relies entirely on other tools to be useful for more than simple comms, and won’t be the all-in-one that other tools can offer.

Basecamp, Monday.com, and Asana

All three have Confluence-like features built-in to them, and seem to be geared towards marketing and sales more than, say, software development or DevOps – but they can be templated and tweaked.

Pros and cons of using Atlassian over other alternative tools

Atlassian stack pros

Atlassian’s tools are market-leading, industry-leading, award-winning and ubiquitous. Jira is the best-in-class platform for software development. Above all, Atlassian tools all communicate with each other perfectly, out of the box; no fuss, no code.

Adopting the Atlassian stack is cheaper than building a custom stack, but no less customisable. The marketplace is filled with apps that enhance functionality to new heights, and organisations can develop custom solutions within the Atlassian ecosystem. 

In terms of versatility and integration options, Atlassian is widely regarded as one of the best in the industry. And the update cycle is relentless – the best version of your tools is always being worked on.

Cons

There are, of course, drawbacks. Going all in on one toolstack means all your eggs are in one basket. If that basket were to break – well, there go your eggs. And you may find that your team prefers to use different platforms that require some level of custom integration. For example, if your dev team works best in GitLab, moving them over to Atlassian’s Bitbucket and stalling productivity doesn’t make sense.

The good news is that Atlassian’s tools are pick and mix, and they all integrate well with other best-in-class tools through plugins or apps. And if you need someone to help you get the performance you need from a custom Atlassian setup, we’ve got the world’s top Atlassian experts ready to go.

Hire World-class Atlassian Talent

Let’s help you get the most out of your productivity tools. ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors in the world; vetted, skills-checked and ready to go. To get started, call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Cancelling WFH caused the Great Resignation. Why push for it?

walking in shadow
walking in shadow

Cancelling WFH caused the Great Resignation. Why push for it?

We humans are forgetful creatures.

 

Hopping from one crisis to the next, we forget the staggering lengths we’ve been through to get where we are. We forget the chaos, and the uncertainty.

 

Cast your mind back to March 2020 – if you haven’t blocked it all out, that is.

 

The UK, USA, and most other countries around the world had either entered or were entering a national lockdown, in response to Covid-19.

 

If you were lucky enough to evade the virus, for your loved ones and friends to be safe, and to still have a job – you felt grateful. Many of us did.

 

But not all of us were as lucky. Some of us lost people to covid. Many more lost work, as entire industries fell apart.

 

For the lucky ones, we either got put on furlough, or got put to work remotely.

 

They were interesting times, to say the least; especially for people trying to work while raising children (if anyone’s been through home schooling and work, you’ll know how utterly impossible the two are in tandem).

 

But working from home, for the majority of office-based workers, was a revelation, and a revolution – a proof of concept that they could have it all.

 

Once office-bound workers could now do their job from their dining table, bed or sofa. Their commute was eliminated. They got to have more family time, eat cooked lunches, take meaningful breaks, and explore their own passions with the hours saved each week.

 

So, when that call came from business leaders to say “we’re going back to the office now” – you can imagine the response among those who wanted WFH to stay.

 

They begrudgingly went back to commuting one hour in both directions. Back to eating flimsy, overpriced sandwiches. Back to dreaming of the hobbies they had time to pursue in their longer evenings.

 

Where they once felt grateful for still having jobs, they suddenly felt resentful.

 

“We’ve seen the other side; and the grass really is greener”.

 

Returning to the office felt like a punishment. No more time for personal growth. Less sleep. Hours of your day, lost. Motivation – sapped.

 

And so, workers started to quit.

The evidence is mounting: ending WFH is driving up quits

This isn’t so much an anecdote about the end of WFH, as it is a reliable process for decimating your own workforce; if you really wanted to shed some employees, just tell them to come back to the office full-time.

 

They could be one 360-second meeting away from throwing in the towel.

 

The evidence for this is piling up. Workers would rather quit than go back to the office. 

 

Ending WFH it wasn’t just a mistake in 2021 – it’s a mistake now and forevermore – because the world of work is never going to be the same.

 

Our mindsets have shifted dramatically from “live to work” to “work to live”.

 

And there’s absolutely no good reason for employers in offices to demand an end to WFH. The majority of it boils down to corporate paranoia, and old-school mindsets about who should be doing what in order to be productive.

 

Hey, leaders: busy doesn’t mean productive. If seeing your people in person, sat at desks, doing “stuff” is your measure of productivity and success, then – sorry to say – you’re wrong.

 

Instead of fearing remote work and assuming the worst of employees working from home, look at KPIs. Look at your HR stats, like retention. What’s scarier; an hour of “productivity” lost to YouTube or Facebook – or costs reaching into the hundreds of thousands to replace experienced practitioners?

Afraid of remote work? Here’s something much scarier

The cost to replace the average UK worker is £11,000.

 

The cost to replace seniors and specialists is between £40,000 to £100,000.

 

That’s big money in a climate of seemingly flippant job-hopping, where employees are keen to set clear boundaries between work and life.

 

Let’s say you run a small workforce of 25, in a competitive industry like marketing. Your company turns over £1.8 million in a good year. You decide that it’s time to end WFH and get back to “reality”.

 

Let’s use the conservative estimate that 38% of those workers are going to quit within 6 months to a year, rounded up for easier maths.

 

10 of your team quits over WFH ending; 8 entry-level executives, and two seniors. That could cost your company a total sum in the region of £250,000.

 

So, what’s scarier? Losing 13% of your turnover to poor (and avoidable) employee retention, or WFH?

 

Why are so many businesses that can enable WFH still pushing for a return to the office, instead of leaning into remote?

The benefits of remote working

Productivity

If you trust your team, and give them the tools to work remotely, you can actually boost productivity. Working from home caused a productivity uplift of 13%, even if it’s just for one day a week.

Lower carbon emissions – and overheads

Not only does WFH eliminate commutes, it eliminates heating and powering giant office spaces. That means lower bills and smaller business infrastructure for you, and less CO2 pumped into the air for everyone else.

Better comms, better accountability

WFH forces better communication and accountability. No more “he said, she said” or undocumented conversations that get forgotten. It’s all tracked and traceable. Say you’ll do something, and there’s a record of it.

Remote workers are happier 

Research from before the pandemic has already shown that remote work can improve productivity, employee retention, and generally makes employees feel trusted. It’s a boost to quality of life, and business outcomes.

 

WFH is the future – and with the right culture and tools at your company, that future is bright.

How to nail your remote working strategy: hire Remote Working experts

ClearHub’s remote working experts have helped countless teams in complex IT, software, development and DevOps roles to change the way they work together over long distances. By hiring in expert consultants to design and develop robust remote working platforms, you can retain your best talent, attract new talent, and maximise productivity – with a remote working expert on your side. 

Confluence vs Jira: What are the differences?

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working on laptop

Confluence vs Jira: What are the differences?

Leading software developers Atlassian produce a suite of valuable products, and probably the two most important and popular are Jira and Confluence. Both these pieces of software are used by organizations of all sizes to simplify their working environment and allow their staff to be more productive day-to-day.

If you are interested in making use of them, it is important to understand what these products are best for, as well as any drawbacks they might have. Here we take a look at both to establish which product might be right for you.

What Confluence is best for

As a shared workspace, Confluence allows teams to organize and work together on projects. This content management tool makes it easy to create and file strategy documents, meeting notes, IT details and much more. When everyone has access to all the important data and documents it makes things much simpler all round.

Confluence has a range of features that are hugely beneficial:

  • Analytics – Confluence includes Analytics that allow you to track a range of important metrics including most liked, accessed and viewed. This is vital for understanding and making better use of data and knowledge in your organization.
  • Collaboration – A major advantage of Confluence is that it is designed to be highly collaborative. Contributions from individual team members can be tracked using the Version Control Feature, and allows for efficient and effective working between a group.
  • Integration – Confluence integrates seamlessly with other products, including both other Atlassian software, as well as third-party apps. This makes Confluence good at connecting with Google’s products, as well as adding broader features such as graphics and graphs.

Drawbacks of Confluence

Of course, there are some aspects of Confluence that aren’t perfect and might present potential issues.

  • Search – The search feature of Confluence is considered a weakness, and it can be relatively complicated to use.
  • Plugins – Third-party plugins may be needed, but you might find some challenges in implementing them. This might require you to have to create a specific plugin.

What Jira is best for

Jira is another one of Atlassian’s best known products. It is designed to track the status and progress of issues, bugs, and other aspects of a project. It can be customized around the specific needs of the business.

Jira allows you to design and manage reports, workflows, and tasks – increasing the efficiency and productivity of the team.

  • Agile development – Perhaps the most famous aspect of Jira is its Agile working, which allows workers to utilise the Kanban and scrum features easily.
  • Security – Jira has sensible and well thought out security controls. It is easy to manage user access to ensure team members are allowed to work at the right level of security clearance.
  • Reports – Jira’s selection of reporting options is excellent. It allows users to mine the data for insights and information.

Drawbacks of Jira

Some of the challenges in working in Jira can include:

  • Integration – If you have previously worked with other application management systems, it can feel difficult to integrate or migrate over.
  • Interface – Some users of Jira find that the interface is not as clear as it could be.

Confluence and Jira are distinct software packages that can both be extremely useful for businesses. If you are interested in working with Atlassian, Clearhub specializes in the recruitment of Jira and Confluence professionals. Get in contact with our experienced team today.z

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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

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: 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

SHORTAGES
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.

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.

software developer

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.

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    Ultimate guide to recruiting remote staff

    RECRUITING
    RECRUITING

    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.

    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.

    remote working developer

    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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