Starting to Hire Remotely? Here’s My Advice

Kenneth Sytian 11 months ago

The Philippines is a freelance hub in Asia. There are lots of talented people that can be found in the country, with skills as diverse as the species of flora and fauna that can be found on its 7,107 islands. The country is being sought after by foreign companies for its young, English-speaking workforce, matched with lower labor costs.

Foreign startups and big digital focused companies are particularly interested in outsourcing their workforce to the Philippines because we are proving that we have what it takes to be valuable partners, who can help realize organizational goals because
of these reasons:

  • Culture. Because of our affinity with the western culture, we can easily adapt to their workflow. Filipinos are known to be hospitable and emphatic; such traits make it easy for us to understand our client’s situation. We are also the type of people who are willing to adjust in any situation.
  • Cost. The cost to do business here in the Philippines is less expensive than doing business in the US. For a web design, we start rates at $800, while a quick Google on US web design services can give you a quote starting at $2000.
  • People. 90% of the Philippines population is under 55 years. That’s a huge pool of well educated, young minds at your disposal.

However, local digital agencies like ours are not the ones that are left behind when it comes to using remote hiring and operations – we are one of them.

Remote hiring in the Philippines is still rising and here are few things that I’ve learned during the past few years. These might help you to utilize our vast talent pool as well.

1. More clients does not call for immediate expansion.

For a digital agency getting new clients is always exciting – it means that our operations will continue. Having more and more clients was fun, especially for our pockets, so we never said no to any client that came knocking on our virtual doors. What we did not know is that it was not all fun and games – more clients means more responsibilities and more work to be done. It didn’t seem so obvious in the first place.

In order to meet the demands of our growing client-base, I eagerly got more people under us. I resorted to referrals (and a lot of them!). And this is where I got it wrong. I quickly realized that I wrongly anticipated the need for more people. What’s worse is that I didn’t spend enough time to evaluate their competences! I was surprised that some of them did not meet my expectations, and were not willing to comply with the rules that I have set.

In the first few weeks, I wasn’t prepared to let them go. Yes, I am the CEO and I’m shy to fire those people. However, the next few weeks validated that their skills and attitude were not in line with my company’s demands, so I had to let them go.

What I have learned:

Don’t get too excited. Think logically and wisely. Plan carefully before making a move. Learn to say NO if things get overwhelming because sometimes we make wrong decisions when we are pressured.

Also, referrals make sourcing for potential employees faster, but that does not mean that you should not do your part in screening them before employing them. If they do not meet your qualifications, don’t hire them. Remember that you are taking people for a long haul and your decisions will have a huge impact for your future plans. It’s best to spend more time on a new hire.
working remotely

2. There’s no undo in real life, only refresh

I was always told when I was a child that I have to be careful with what I do in life because there’s no undo button in real life. The mistakes that I have done as a noob remote hiring CEO have already been consummated, and cannot be retracted.

In this case I need a refresh. To do this, I regrouped, reset my personal as well as organizational priorities, and audited our needs.

I also learned the act of letting go. As I have quickly realized the downside of my impulsive, referral-driven expansion, I had to do one of the hardest things I have ever done: fire someone. It is even more difficult to fire someone who has been recommended by a friend or a relative. Please note that firing should never be a spur-of-the-moment decision, but a well-thought of decision, grounded on justifiable basis, where termination is the best solution there is. It is best if you can provide warning so that the person will be given the chance to work harder because maybe he’s not putting his best foot forward yet, and only firing if no improvement was shown in the stipulated time.

What I have learned:

Again, there is no undo in real life, only refresh. When you feel that you are not going on the direction you planned, assess your situation and check how far have you deviated from your goals. Make efforts to direct your future actions towards these goals.

Also, firing remotely is as difficult as firing personally. If the employee staying in the company will not serve the best interest of your business make sure to warn, give a chance, and when no improvement is seen, then that’s only when you should resort to firing.

3. Communication is key

Mistakes can strike deep through the heart, especially if you are the big boss. I have a lot of regrets in the past but I don’t sulk about them. I have learned from my mistakes and I can proudly say that I am a noob in the remote hiring business no more!

At 32 years old, with 10 to 15 web design projects a month, having completed more than 874 projects since 2006, I can say that I have gone so far from where I was before. Here are some quick takeaways from my experience:

  • Don’t trust referrals. They may know their referrals, but you don’t know them. It pays to do your own research, so…
  • Follow a structured hiring process. Screen all candidates. Don’t exempt other candidates from screening because they have better education or they came from a reputable company.
  • Spend time evaluating your hires. They may have shown exemplary skills or performance during the hiring process, but they may act different in an actual setting.
  • Learn to say NO. Giving favors, hiring someone because he was referred by an uncle or a favorite cousin doesn’t fare well for a business. Learn to say no to unsuitable candidates instead of hiring them out of pity or just because you had a good laugh during the interview.
  • Be open for a dialogue. Communication is important.

Mistakes can set you off, but instead of crying over spilled milk, learn from your mistakes and make sure that you do better the next time. When your mistakes become stepping stones for you to reach higher ground, you can be proud of your mistakes. So here I am, proud to have been a noob remote hiring CEO, but I am a noob no more!


Why Pinoys and BPOs are a good fit – Rappler, PH

Kenneth Sytian

Kenneth Sytian is one of the leaders in web design in the Philippines. He has been designing websites and developing web apps for more than a decade. His no-nonsense approach to design coupled with his vast creativity is a winning combination for his clients.

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