How To Outsource To a Remote Team as an Architect Sole Practitioner
Working as an architect sole practitioner has its perks. The freedom and flexibility of working alone, without accountability to a staff or employees is appealing to many small firm architects.
It may be time to consider growing beyond you.
Today, with high speed internet and powerful new software applications, we have many choices from which to chose. You may want to start hiring a team of employees who will work with you side-by-side in a new local office.
Or it may be time to seek a partner; someone who is in a similar position as a sole practitioner, but has non-overlapping complementary strengths.
Or you may want to team up with another local firm on a project-by-project basis, establishing an agreement of mutual support, ready to help when needed.
At a recent Open Sessions video conference inside the EntreArchitect Academy membership, we discussed another solution to this perennial question; How to outsource to a remote team as an architect sole practitioner.
Here are the highlights from our meeting:
What To Do Before You Start
Before you jump into hiring your first freelancer, it’s critical to have your systems in place. Waiting to build a process on the fly, simultaneously with on-boarding your new team member will only result in frustration and failure. It will not work and you will soon be alone again, overwhelmed with your workload, wondering if “getting small, again” is the answer.
If you are considering a remote team business model, you must build out the systems for each task prior to hiring your first freelance team member.
Consider Your Software
In order to maximize your pool of available freelance candidates, build your systems on the software platforms considered to be universal in the profession. You may find freelancers who use any platform, but if you stick with the most used applications, (the group said Autodesk Revit will maximize your pool), you will most likely find the qualified teammate you’re seeking.
Not using Revit? No worries. You don’t need to make any major platform decisions. Just build a system to accommodate that reality. Another member said that working with PDFs to communicate designs and revisions can work very well if the working system is established up front and properly understood by both parties.
Expectations Will Make It or Break It
Your understanding of what you want from a freelance team member may be even more important than them understanding what you want. Hiring people to perform simple, repetitive production tasks is much easier and will be more successful than trying to hand off design or development roles. Outsourcing is difficult beyond low-level production tasks. Don’t expect to outsource design or development decisions to a low-level remote team member.
Even with a fully functioning system in place, it may take up to 6 months to get your qualified team member feeling comfortable and be settled in with your process. Remember that this is a long term business model, not an emergency tactic.
Hire For Compatible Strengths
The success of my remote team is built upon compatible strengths. We hire for roles and try not to overlap our weaknesses.
Many architects thrive in the realm of design and are happiest performing in that role. Seek and confirm that team members have strengths and intentions built around the roles that you are seeking. If you want a team member for production, make certain that the candidate is not taking the job hoping to “move up” to a design position in the future. Hiring a passionate team member with great design skills to perform a role in production is a mistake. Find people who thrive and grow in the role for which you are seeking.
Architect Outsourcing Resources
During our EntreArchitect Open Sessions video conference, participants shared their experiences and offered recommendations for many solutions. Below is a list of resources discussed.
- PeoplePerHour (recommended by member based in Ireland)
- Upwork (formerly Odesk)
- Fiverr (used for very low-level tasks, but you may be surprised… in a good way)
- EntreArchitect Member Forum on Slack (members only)
- The EntreArchitect Community on Facebook
- Q-CAD (I’ve been using Q-CAD for basic drafting for years)
- Regal Services (an outsourcing service based in India used with success for years by an EntreArchitect member.)
We also shared a few books that may help with developing strong business systems, setting up remote teams and outsourcing non-critical tasks.
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
- The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch
Question: Have you built a remote team or successfully outsourced your workload? What worked for you? What are some pitfalls we should be watching for?
Share your experience below or over at The EntreArchitect Community private Facebook group.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock / GaudiLab