Another episode in the Q&A video series for SME’s and business leaders.
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Intro: I’m Stuart Ayling and in this episode of Q&A I’ll be speaking with Nerissa Chaux and Nerissa is co-founder and Head of Happiness at Filta. In this episode I’ll be speaking with Nerissa about two topics. One is productivity of an offshore team member, and the other one is how to keep your company’s data safe when using an offshore team.
Stuart: I’m once again speaking with Nerissa Chaux and Nerissa is the co-founder and Head of Happiness at Filta. And her focus is on helping Australian businesses build and manage both local and offshore teams that actually work. So thanks for being with me again Nerissa.
Nerissa: Thanks Stuart, great to be here.
Stuart: Hey look, one thing I wanted to ask you before we actually get into the topic of this episode, which is sort of a two-pronged topic, but before we get into that I wanted to ask you your title is Head of Happiness at Filta, so what does that actually mean?
Nerissa: Yeah I have the fun job. Basically I am responsible for making sure that our clients are happy, engaged and their problems are being solved. So I’m really quite visible on client sites, and just talking to our businesses and business owners about you know what’s happening and what’s their strategy moving forward, and on also the staffing side. So basically I have the fun job, I just do all the fun things.
Stuart: OK excellent. Happiness Queen! Love it. OK well look, there’s two questions I wanted to cover during this episode. One is around the productivity of the offshore team member, and the other one is about security of data because I know both these issues are potential concerns for business owners. Just coming back to the first one,
As a business owner how do I know that my offshore team member is being busy? You know in some ways, how do I know I’m getting my money’s worth from from what I’m paying? Because I can’t see them.
I suppose it could be the same with any remote team member whether they’re here in Australia or overseas, but we’re talking about offshoring here so how do I know that my team is busy?
Nerissa: OK so there are a number of things that I would suggest. First of all they should be tracking their time, so you know when they login when they log out. Also what we encourage is people saying good morning, saying when they’re going on lunch, saying when they’re leaving for the day. But also how critical it is to have a morning meeting. So this not only makes sure that people are on time but that you’re talking through what everyone has on for today and projected end dates.
Stuart: Nerissa, can I just cut in there? I just want to check, so what you’re saying there is that from a management perspective we you know the business owner or whoever is managing that offshore person should be checking in with them in the morning, so there should be interaction as you would with someone who’s in your physical office. You should have that same level of interaction and having that sort of morning meeting to really involved them with what’s happening that particular day.
Nerissa: Yes absolutely number one it’s good to connect in that first meeting but, two, when everyone’s accountable you will find that when they know that you know what they’ve got on, and the timelines that are expected… also I find that if you’re chatting (online) throughout the day, doing video calls, to give you an example I’m always chatting to my team members not just necessarily on video the phone but also lots of chatting throughout the day.
We at Filta also have an Operations Manager so I suggest if you are going to an offshoring company that there are people who check in to make sure that people aren’t sleeping on the desk, and they’re not playing foosball for 45 minutes, or playing the xbox. They’re actually at their desk and they’re doing work and I think that’s really important is to have an overall manager who can see that.
But ultimately if you are being responsible and you’re being a manager you should be understanding the workflow that’s required and how long that takes. So if they’re doing an 8 hour day you should be able to know if things aren’t getting done.
Stuart: Yeah so a part of it comes down to good management practices regardless of whether there’s someone on your physical premises or whether they’re part of an offshore team. You really just need to be across what they’re doing, what their workflow is, what the output is that you’re expecting from that person.
Nerissa: Yes and to give you some insight as well, they’ve done a recent study where how many hours people work in different countries. Australia the average hours we work is 6 hours a day. In the Philippines interestingly it’s 8 hours a day. So just purely on statistics you’re getting 2 hours more worth of work from your offshoring staff than you are from your local staff.
Stuart: OK, so if I’ve got all those systems in place as a business owner I should be able to satisfy myself that I’ve got a productive team member even though they’re not in the office every day, like right in front of me. If I’ve got these other systems in place I should be seeing them actually maybe on the screen or seeing the results of their, as you say their check-ins checkouts and their participation at meetings. I should have all those touch points in place so I know what’s actually happening with that person.
Stuart: Excellent. That sounds pretty simple really. It comes down to good management. That’s often the hard part, having the time to put all this into place.
The other question I wanted to ask is about the security of information because people often get concerned that if I’ve got a team member outside of my office, particularly overseas because the more distant it is it seems to create more concern, how do I know that the data that my offshore team member is accessing is secure?
Nerissa: Yes it’s a really important question because that’s probably 99% of all businesses their first question when it comes to offshoring is about protection of data and security of data. So interestingly it’s probably more secure, the odds are it’s more secure in an offshoring environment than it is in your own office.
Basically they both should be in alignment. So when you’re talking to an offshoring provider you need to ask things like do you have biometric security? Do you have security guards? Does your office lock at night? In terms of the actual computer, do they have CD ROM access, USB access? Are their sites monitored? Do the computers lock down? So for instance our computers lock down after 5 seconds and the only person allowed who can actually open their computer is that person or IT.
We have, as I said before I think, bank level encryption security so everything is monitored in terms of firewalls, viruses. And ultimately do they comply to the Australian Privacy Act as well as the Philippines ISO guideline.
Those are the sort of questions that I would definitely be asking. What type of security is in place, but as I said you’ll find it’s pretty locked down in the Philippines.
Stuart: OK, you made me think about an important aspect there is that you’re referring to properly managed office environments within the Philippines which compares to office environments here within Australia.
And I think in maybe in many cases business owners have this perspective that if I’m getting an offshore team member that maybe they’re not in a proper office, maybe they are working from their very insecure home premises, or they’ve got someone somewhere in the Philippines sitting in a cafe somewhere doing their work. But what you’re talking about here is really quite a formal office environment with very high level of physical as well as technology.
Nerissa: Yes, I believe we all want a commercial grade facility for our staff but also that commercial grade protection. And the only way in may opinion that an offshoring company can provide that is if they’re providing a high quality office infrastructure with all of those things in place, all of those redundancies.
And that way you know you’re mitigating all your risk. So for instance work from home is not something we’d encourage in the Philippines simply because they have the most natural disasters than anywhere else in the world, so you can’t guarantee the internets going to be on, if their whole province or suburbs get out of power for a week. Where in an office environment you have all those protections.
Stuart: OK excellent. Well look thanks again Nerissa, we’re out of time for this episode but thanks for sharing a lot of useful information for business owners to consider if they really want to make offshoring a success. So thanks again and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
Nerissa: Thanks again, appreciate it.