QUESTION: How do I find a low-cost, reliable, AND trustworthy remote employee?
There are numerous methods. Some business owners will try to find a remote staffing agency that vets all their employees. Others will try to hire directly via freelance sites like UpWork. Others prefer to search from word-of-mouth asking other friends in online communities. I’ve used all three with varying results. And have found the ultimate method that I use today.
ENGLISH-SPEAKING remote employees, also known as VA (virtual assistant) or “remote contractors”, can be found in South America, Asia (especially Philipines), and Eastern Europe. Basically, workers from less economically-developed countries that are grateful to work conveniently from home for even more pay than they might receive from a local job.
Some countries tend to produce better results than others. Some countries are better for boring, mundane, “drone tasks”. Others are better for tech-savvy tasks that require critical thinking and some analysis. Others are better high-level jobs like design and programming.
My least favorite was the VA’s from the Philipines. Yes, they speak English comfortably since it’s one of the official languages but they are difficult to work with. I always get the feeling they’re often multi-tasking instead of being focused on my project. They a low hourly rate but work on 2 computers and need you to spell out every little thing; it makes you wonder if they’re outsourcing your job to somebody else. They don’t have a culture for Western-style cubicle work rhythm. Been there, done that. China is also my 2nd least favorite for the same reasons, and also their English is worse. I used to hire full-time remote VA’s from Staff.com but they don’t run that business anymore (their business model has changed from being a remote employee agency to remote employee tracking software), I’m guessing because it was a pain in the butt to find reliable employees.
South America is great if you need bilingual assistants, who can do things in both English and Spanish. They often have many issues with internet reliability and can sometimes be unreachable for several days.
Eastern European outsource workers tend be more tech-savvy and trustworthy but also a little costlier and have less command of English. Their reliability can be great sometimes and spotty at other times. You get the feeling they take for a vacation trip once every month.
MY BEST ADVICE
Many of these remote workers will offer themselves for like $5/hr full-time via online agencies or $12/hr via UpWork.com (formerly Odesk).
But the thing is when you try to hire them via agency, the agency will literally charge 100% mark-up. So you’d be paying $10/hr for an employee who was willing to do it for $5/hr.
My tip is this: go on upwork.com and hire a bunch of different guys for all kinds of different projects. After you’ve hired about 20….keep only the ones you like. You’ll eventually water it down to like 2 very good ones who are willing to take less pay if you give them full-time work every month. My guess is you would end up with someone in South America or Eastern Europe.
This isn’t to say that all generalizations above are representative of ALL remote workers in each country. I’ve actually found incredible workers, translators, designers, and programmers, for numerous countries. Both those operate on a higher price and should not be compared to their more common countryman.