Among the many things that the Covid issue taught us was that we really can work remotely in many domains. In technology we’ve been doing this for years. Nothing new under the sun, right? There are still detractors though. In our business – pre-Covid - we heard a few recurring reasons as to why it won’t work. It’ll be interesting to see how (or if) this changes once we come out of the pandemic.
Some of the common counter-arguments we’ve heard….
Close Proximity: There are those who claim, or insist, that they must have developers – and other technology specialists - onsite, at their offices. What drives that line of thinking? There is an argument that says that building technology solutions is a social endeavor and that people, to be effective and successful, need to have that social/tribal interaction. Maybe, but aren’t there enough examples of collaboration between local and remote teams to knock that argument of the table?
Security: As a noted expert on Cyber-Security told me recently …. The biggest threat companies face regarding information security is internal, from their own people. Looking at the face of it, that seems logical enough, right? Who is more likely to have access to sensitive information? Internal collaborators for sure. Information security is a multi-dimensional issue that goes far beyond using remote/3rd party teams. That is not where the biggest risk lies.
Attorneys and other fear-wielding advisors may want to convince us otherwise but in the everyday world of technology services, provided remotely from nearshore locations especially, the risk of any information leakage is very low and is more a question of internal controls than mal intent.
Our “unique” situation: There may be some uniqueness to a given situation that requires local or onsite resources only. Is it really true though? Covid has proven that working remotely does work for many situations that requires both team collaboration and individual contributors. Many organizations had already been working remotely to some degree. Even the government outsources to remote locations.
We’re not set up for it: I heard this one recently but never got an explanation as to why one wouldn’t be “set up for it”. We have so many (too many?) tools at our disposal these days to enable local-remote taking measures that any organization would take to bring in anyone who is providing technology services. It is a situation that must be managed - like many others.
Bad experience with (fill in….. the offshore location). We’ve heard quite a few horror stories. Most of the negative stories on remote tech services come from far shore locations. Considering that with many of these locations, real-time communication is much more limited, it is logical. I’ve heard the good, the bad and the ugly about it, but just because an organization had a bad experience with an offshore destination doesn’t necessarily mean that other service providers or other remote destinations wouldn’t be a better fit. The premise here is that communication is the main problem.
Balance: You don’t want your solution in the hands of a 3rd party and to be solely dependent on them? Agreed. Considering any remote tech services, the important thing is to have your own team that can work together and take the reins of the service to ensure, just like any other service provisioning method, that someone is responsible and can manage and hold accountable the remote teams the same way we would do with local teams. The point we always make is that the client is in control.
In many cases It isn’t about doing it “in-house” vs remote (via a 3rd party). Mainly it’s about having the right mix of people and skillsets including the key, valuable employees, that can be complimented by remote teams, working collaboratively, aligned in accomplishing objectives.
What Covid did was dispel any myth that we can’t work remotely. Communication is key. Being able to communicate in real time – when the situation demands it - can go a long way to help make it work.