1
What Are the Trends Set for Outsourcing in 2017?
2
Will Remote Work Eradicate the Need for Outsourcing?
3
Github for Unity: Is That Good News?
4
Will Unity Give a Push to VR and Better 3D Graphics With Its Game Engine?
5
5 Apps You Need Right Away to Manage Your Remote Team!
6
6 Ways Agency Owners Can Own 2017!
7
Can Startups Rely on a Remote Team?
8
7 Important Tips for Leading a Remote Team
9
Busted: 7 Myths of Working with Remote Teams
10
Drupal VM 4 Is Here! With PHP 7.1 And Easy PHP Switching

What Are the Trends Set for Outsourcing in 2017?

In 2016, the SEO industry, as well as the outsourcing industry, have made their way to success with the help of technological advancements. The year 2016 has been remarkable for new trends in the outsourcing industry. We are now three months into 2017, however, and during this period outsourcing has increased in popularity and to a whole new level altogether. In terms of outsourcing trends for 2017, experts predict that the year 2017 will experience greater innovation and development in cloud technology, in data security, and in social responsibility. Below are discussed a few possible trends that may influence outsourcing to a great extent this year.

  • Outsource providers will level up their quality:

According to a global outsourcing survey (conducted by Deloitte) in 2016, businesses who outsource their work to their outsourcing partners, expect innovative and error-free services from them. They outsource not only to complete their project within budget, but also to avail other value added services that are offered by their outsourcing partner.

So, in response to this, it can be expected that outsourcing providers will increase the quality of their services by including more and more value added services and bringing innovation into those services. According to this trend, before starting a new project, both employers and their outsourcing partners will get SLA or Service Level Agreements before initiating a new project.

  • Virtual employees will be increased:

With the help of advanced and latest technology, it has become easier for outsourcing providers as well as freelancers to work remotely. Since there is a number of project management and real-time monitoring software, it is easily predictable that 2017 will see a significant increase in virtual agents. The advanced technology will make the future of offshore outsourcing industry brighter than ever.

Since virtual employees and offshore outsourcing offers a number of benefits including productivity improvement, low workforce cost and accessibility for extended hours (especially if the outsourcing partner is from a different time-zone), most companies prefer outsourcing their project.

  • IT delivery system can be centralized:

Looking at the streamlining business process of 2016, it is easily predictable that more businesses will switch to just one dedicated IT vendor rather than opt for outsourcing to multiple IT vendors. The more centralized the IT system is, the more standard and innovative and productive it would be.

  • Use of cloud technology will be increased:

Cloud technology became popular in the year 2016. It is expected that this year will be an excellent year for Cloud technology, especially for the Hybrid Cloud. The Hybrid Cloud refers to an integrated Cloud service used by both private and public Clouds in order to access business functions easily. According to many industry experts, more than 50% of IT vendors will use Cloud technology by the year 2018.  The remaining percentage will possibly partner with industry Cloud platforms.

  • Impact outsourcing:

This year, it is expected that a new social responsibility model for business processes may gather more attention. The primary aim of the outsourcing providers would be providing quality outsourcing services in a cost effective way.

  • RPA or Robotic Process Automation:

This year, RPA may enhance the ease and efficiency of BPA in 2017. It is predicted that it will develop productivity to a great extent and reduce costs while maintaining its quality. For repetitive tasks, software robots can replace humans.

  • Development in automation:

With the help of the automation process, it is now possible to increase production with efficiency. Experts predict that there can be a great development in automation and scalability in the year 2017 with the help of reusable platforms that offer better technical support.

With the above predictions, the year 2017 is looking to be a promising year for the outsourcing industry. These trends, however, focus more on streamlining business processes and enhancing the use of centralized technology. Indian outsourcing providers will increase their functional capabilities significantly.

Additionally, outsourcing companies are making data security a priority in the year 2017. However, it is just a prediction based on the trends of 2016. Only time will tell if the prediction will come true or not.

Will Remote Work Eradicate the Need for Outsourcing?

These days remote working has gradually become more acceptable by different organizations. Before, companies were mainly dependent on an outsourcing team and the staff of their office, but now the scenario is slightly changed. Various companies are now inducting remote workers into their task teams and workforces. The trend of outsourcing work is now somehow reduced with the popularity of remote.

However, there is some concern as to whether the remote team has eradicated the need for outsourcing or not. There is, therefore, a resultant confusion as to whether outsourcing is better or remote work. Some say that remote workers are a perfect choice for companies, but they cannot solve all the problems that are done efficiently by outsourcing. And for some, remote workers are the perfect solution for all your technical tasks, which would not have been managed well by outsourcing.

Below are some points that are explained by experts for and against the topic of whether or not remote work will eradicate the necessity of outsourcing.


          Remote Work Will Not Eradicate Outsourcing:

People  against the topic have expressed their opinions in these ways:

  • Remote work can never solve every problem that outsourcing does. This is because, firstly, you have to reach people personally, whom you would like to hire. Suppose you need one developer, then you have to find out an employee or a software house to work with. In case you require more than one developer, problems will arise, as you have to hire a number of people and you have to spend valuable time in this hiring process. With outsourcing, you don’t need to invest as much time, since you can outsource all your tasks to the outsourcing company.
  • Secondly, hiring an outsourcing company means you have not only hired an employee, but you have also hired a software house where everything is done using automated CI/CD, development tools, and assurance processes. You also have the added advantage of a CTO, a project manager and other developers that are there to support you with their valuable advice. In the case of remote work, when you hire a developer, s/he will do that one particular role only. You will not be assisted by him/her with other tasks/roles.
  • Thirdly, outsourcing is more flexible than remote work. During the project, you can change your demand for resources anytime you want. They can provide 3 people to develop MVP (which is better than one to support it while verifying on the market), then 8 people will scale it. In terms of remote working, you can only hire one person to complete the task.
  • Fourthly, getting hold of a remote worker is a complex process, since you have to hire resources one by one and then you will need to check their skill set, another time-consuming process. In spite of testing them, you cannot be sure if the remote worker is capable enough to manage your task or not.
  • Finally, the process of hiring outsourcing companies is smooth. Since every employee of an outsourcing company is efficient, you can be assured of the fact that your work will be done efficiently.


    Remote Work Will Eradicate Outsourcing:

       Below are discussed some of the opinions/points of those who think this is true.

  • Remote work is not at all a complex process. In fact, you can choose workers according to your requirements. You can check their skill and then hire them.
  • If your remote employees are satisfied, they will give you their 100%. It is, therefore, a great benefit for your business.
  • They cost less. In terms of outsourcing your project, you may have to spend more money, but hiring a remote employee is always within your budget. This is because, if you have remote employees, they will reduce your rent and property cost.

From the above, it is clear that hiring outsourcing has more positives than hiring remote work, and remote work can never eradicate the necessity of outsourcing. Still, it depends greatly on your company as to what is more suitable for your business. Maybe your particular business requires remote workers, which can be cost-effective for you, but for a majority of businesses (who need to outsource more than one task), outsourcing is a perfect solution.

Github for Unity: Is That Good News?

Github with Unity is something many game developers and their teams will welcome. Github is the perfect haven for the world’s largest community of game developers and the product of their imaginations. Github is a cooperative tool where people come together and produce works of art by solving problems or experimenting together if they choose.  What could be better than collaboration when it comes to coding? Github allows developers to collaborate. Now, this feature will help you while you develop your game on Unity with the Github for Unity extension.

Unity 5.5 always finds room to become better with each new version, and they persistently work to bring out its best features. In version 5.5, a new set of features, like Unity Collaborate will prove helpful for developers. The support for file locking and Git LFS has been provided under Github for Unity, will help to bring workflow and other advantages of Github to Unity.  

Version Control Repository and Developers

Git is a SaaS based system for software coding files version or source control, which helps in tracking the change in code files. It also helps to coordinate the work of multiple people on these code files. Git is very helpful for development as it helps to keep track of all the changes made to a given file. Developers can keep track of any change that is made to a file. The focus is aimed at attaining the integrity of data and speed along with supporting nonlinear and distributed workflows. Thus, Git is important to game developers in many ways.

Github is a web-based source control (Git) repository. It also offers internet hosting services. Github is important to developers because it provides all the source code management (SCM) and distributed version control functionality of a version control (Git), along with some additional features. A wide range of collaboration and access control features which includes issue tracking, task management, feature request and bug tracking, are all available for every project. Github is basically used for code. Although Github focuses on problem-solving and work improvement it provides functions that are similar to a social networking site. These features include followers, feeds, etc. The social network graph displays developers’ work and an intuitive way of working in their file versions. Users first create an account, if they wish to contribute something. In a case of public repositories, an account is not necessary. It can be downloaded and browsed by anybody, but there are advantages of becoming a registered user.  This gives you access to discussions, creation, and management of repositories, reviewing changes in the code and most importantly the ability to contribute to different projects.

What Github for Unity Means?

Millions of developers around the world are able to write code and collaborate with other developers in code. While many might feel it’s not a good choice for the development team members processes to involve games, it is not so. It is the Git integration process that discourages game developers due to the fact that many get stuck on the steep learning curve.

Github for Unity extension provides a platform to game engineers, both the programmers and the digital artists. It allows unity developers to integrate Gits in a better way. The workflow will improve with Github, even in situations where large binary assets versioning is being done. With Github for Unity extension, Gits and Github can be directly integrated into Unity Editor directly. This extension will also include Git LFS version 2.0 which supports storage of large binary assets and locking of the file. This is very helpful when you want to communicate with your team in case of difficult file merging tasks.  The file locking feature of Git LFS 2.0.0 will allow the developer to lock the currently active tasks. This helps you to prevent others from gaining access to your files unless you unlock them. Therefore, the merge conflicts can be avoided. The work is not lost on the files that are hard to merge at the file system level. Although it might contradict the distributive and parallel nature of version controls, this is very beneficial for larger teams.

When the world’s ultimate game development platform comes together with a vibrant and unique community for developers like Github, one can expect things to get better. This is the first step of the Unity and Github unification which can be explored more in the future. It will be very beneficial for Unity developers as things are looking brighter.

Will Unity Give a Push to VR and Better 3D Graphics With Its Game Engine?

For several years,  game developing companies have been using game engines to bring their games to life,  implementing their ideas into the game. Unity is not an exception. Team unity is always active and uses different types of high-end graphics to develop the latest game engines. According to Clive Downie, the chief marketing officer of Unity, if you are among those who earn less than 100,000 dollars revenue on their unity projects, you are offered unity game engines for free. As the revenue, and therefore needs, of a company increase, the company offers Unity Pro on a fee basis.

The year 2017 is highly important for Virtual Reality. VR game development has become a hot topic, but choosing a VR game development is a difficult task since there are multiple game engines available in the market. Among them, the Unity and the Unreal engine are the two most popular platforms. The question that arises is which one of them is the best for you? Describing the answer in one word is not possible, but it is clear that the votes for the Unity Engine are a little more than the votes for the Unreal Engine. Unity is transforming VR and developing better 3D graphics with its game engine.

Before going on to the advantages of Unity game engines, let’s  find out more about the Unity Engines:

  • In terms of game development tools, Unity can be considered one of the most popular ones. It was introduced to the market in the year 2005, and since then it has been holding its good reputation for creating 2D as well as 3D games. It is quite an unusual fact that a game engine is developing both 2D and 3D games.
  • Boo, UnityScript and C# are the three development languages that are supported by this platform.
  • Unity basically has two versions – one is free and the other is the pro. All the versions of Unity offer a support desk, the web, mobile and console platform. Whereas the free versions of Unity support Android, Windows, iOS, Mac OS X and various other mobile versions, the pro version offers support for Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and PlayStation.
  • The Unity engines are cost effective and they have a wide range of developers. One of the most important features of this platform is that it offers the best value for the latest and highly advanced game development engine. The editing tools that are used in this platform are easily extended through plug-ins. Not only that, the Unity platform supports a wide range of asset formats.
  • The Unity engine has the longest track record with mobile games in comparison to all gaming platforms. The free version is enough for beginners as they would have very little to almost no use of the pro version features. Even though the pro version is fee-based, the cost is highly reasonable. The results that are received from Unity are unbelievably impressive.

Advantages of the Unity engine:

  • Supports a wide range of platforms:

The Unity engine offers a great deal of support to almost every platform, and approximately 95% of the work is shared between iOS, PC, mobile and web platforms.

  • Outstanding graphics:

The Unity Engine is famous for its incredible graphics feature. With its great material, it supports the latest audio-visual effects. The graphics are highly accessible and the visual can be scaled down easily while maintaining the quality, even on low-level access, and can be optimized with pixel shaders.

  • Easy deployment:

Unity is so accessible that any game can be deployed on this engine.

  • Stable code:

In comparison with the languages of other engines, Unity’s code is very stable and it consists of a good architecture for minimized errors and good performance.  

  • IDE:

Unity includes IDE, which is considered as the most powerful tool with extraordinary game development features and a user-friendly environment.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Unity is an outstanding platform for game development. If you are a game developer and you want to develop a creative two-dimensional or three-dimensional game, then Unity is highly recommended for you. To help you get started you can find a number of tutorial videos, which can help you get familiar with the process of game development on Unity.

5 Apps You Need Right Away to Manage Your Remote Team!

The trend of hiring remote teams is something that more and more companies and nonprofits are recognizing and welcoming with open arms. For years, there have been myths surrounding the subject of hiring remote teams for work. A few of the common myths were: Remote workers aren’t as highly skilled, remote workers are not as dedicated to the company as regular workers are, or that it is difficult to find reliable remote teams. With these myths being proven to be inaccurate and/or misleading, having a remote team is no longer taboo. With the growing acceptance of remote working, it is a party for freelancers. Freelancers, retired professionals, qualified housewives, students, and people who may find it difficult to be physically present at the office are now able to find jobs in the market without facing any sort of obstacles.

However, that is not to say that the system of remote hiring is without its problems. Apart from the fact that there can be times that remote workers find it difficult to coordinate their tasks and schedule with the rest of the office, there is the risk of remote workers becoming psychologically isolated, or distanced, from the rest of the office. However, there is a way to avoid that. There is certain office coordination and employee tracking software available, which can serve to maintain a basic minimum communicative connection between the employer and the employee, as well as between the various people of a team. A few of these apps are mentioned below in no particular order of prominence and effectiveness:

Skype: This is really the first thing to come off the top of anyone’s head. Skype is one of the finest real-time messaging and video-chat service in existence. iIt also is the most popular VoIP software in use at the moment. It’s not really surprising that it’s the most professionally-accepted means of inter-employee or inter-group (team) communication in today’s era.

Skitch: This one is not available anymore, but older versions of it can still be found and downloaded online.  Its specialty is that it allows you to capture screenshots very quick. You can edit the screenshots in this app before sending them, which helps to communicate the exact plan or order in fine detail and with the most precise directions.

Dropbox: This is one of the most popular mediums of cloud storage. Here, you can keep records of all work done by every single employee for a specific time period.  All folders and files on the company network can be saved here under the appropriate heads. In this way, an employer/team head is able to keep track of all the work done within stipulated deadlines. It also is helpful as an unbiased evaluation of the performance of employees; whether office-goers or remote.  A huge advantage of Dropbox is that all you have to do is install dropbox into all the systems and then share it with all the computer systems you want to. Dropbox has the provision of restoring any deleted file or folder within thirty days of deletion.

Slack: This is one of the greatest apps. It has brought about a sea of change to the world of virtual business integration and communication. Although it has not quite displaced Skype completely, it is used simultaneously with Skype in a lot of places. It has all but killed professional emailing, though. A large part of its popularity can be attributed to its excellent in-built group communication system.

Wunderlist: This is mainly a task management tool. It’s simple user interface and easy-to-use controls are the reasons that have made it so popular. Owing to this, it is really easy to track all employee activity and the inbuilt task management tool allows you to prioritize your tasks.

In conclusion, these are the top five applications that help to ease the process of remote team recruitment and remote worker management. Every single company looking to recruit teams that will be working remotely should pay heed and make use of at least one of these apps.

6 Ways Agency Owners Can Own 2017!

Each and every business or agency owner wants to grow their business and expand. In the world of business, you are either growing or you are dying. So it is very important that you get in motion and grow. So how are agency owners powering this growth? Apart from hiring, here is what you can do to take your business to a whole new level in the next 12 months.

  1. Go online and get better at SEO

In this age of digitization, it is extremely important for your business to have a great internet presence. People use the internet for almost all information nowadays. The first thing that you need to know is what kind of internet presence your business has. It is not enough to just have a good looking website. You need to know the ways of attracting new visitors. And this is exactly where SEO comes into play. As there are millions of websites that are active on the internet, it can be quite difficult for your business to be found online without proper SEO. There are a number of rules as well as protocols in SEO that help your business to get discovered. If you are not already involved in SEO, now is a good time to reconsider. If a person is looking for “web designing services”, your website should rank on top. And this is exactly what SEO does. This is also true for e-commerce websites. If you are a personal trainer, you can sell subscriptions to fitness videos, or if you are into the clothing business, you can sell branded T-shirts. Having an e-commerce presence could greatly benefit your business.

  1. Remote hiring

Remote hiring can be great for your business to grow in 2017. These remote workers not only have the same skills as their on-site counterparts, but their payroll costs are also much less compared to those associated with traditional employees. You can hire them from a talent pool that does not have any geographical restrictions, as these applicants don’t require commuting to an office. Also, remote workers are dedicated and more productive than regular on-site employees. With the remote hiring, your business can take advantage of reduced personnel costs.

  1. Know how to organize your business

Organization and prioritization are the two main elements that one needs to run a business. When it comes to operations, make sure that your business organization does not disintegrate into any type of complex blame game. If you have any queries regarding lean business operations, then you can take the help of books. This will be of great help. You need to know about the quality of the agencies that are not only successful but also have maintained their success. There should be no complication in your business operations. To make your business a grand success, it should have three main operational components – the right staff, level five leaders and confronting brutal facts. If a business understands all these three components properly, then the managers can optimize as well as simplify operations.

  1. Focus on your customer

You can make the profit from your business, only if you have a good customer base. Your customer will come for the first time, if they are satisfied with your service, they will come for the second time, and finally, they will bring their friends with them. This is what you want, right?  In this regard, small agencies have more advantage over large companies. Small agencies get to interact with their customers at a more personal level. This does not mean that large companies do not care about their customers. Actually, it is quite challenging to put the CEO of a company face to face with customers. Give priority to your clients or customers, make sure you understand what they want and then cater to their specific needs.

  1. Pay attention to cash flow

You need to define your free flow of cash. Generally, cash flow is calculated depending on what is left after making all the non-cash adjustments and payment of all the necessary financial expenditures. You will be able to gain new opportunities and perspectives when you start considering free cash flows before making business decisions.

  1. Invest the retained earnings wisely

If you run a successful business, have the great understanding of the balance sheet and want to explore other opportunities, you have two options – you can either choose to invest in external assets that are non-operational subsidiaries, or you can invest your retained earnings back into the operational business. Deciding what to do can be tough. In many cases, the right decision can be to reinvest retained earnings into the organic business. But there are cases, where small business owners fail because of their overconfidence from the previous success and end up killing both the businesses. It will be good if you don’t invest huge capital in low-probability business options and invest in assets that are non-operational.

Your business may face challenges, but these six ways of growing your business can make your business stand out in 2017. Just focus on simplification and understanding your free cash flow, and will be able to get the most out of your business.

Can Startups Rely on a Remote Team?

Remote hiring is something which is slowly being accepted more and more as we edge into the future. Shunned earlier by many companies owing to the lack of clarity regarding the entire process, remote workers are now gradually being inducted into the workforces and task teams of various companies. This is contributing to the growth of workplace expansion beyond the physical confines of the office. What’s even more encouraging is the fact that this trend is being quickly adopted by smaller companies, especially start-ups.   

There’s good reason behind people getting excited about remote offices. It is, first and foremost, quite cost-effective, saving money by not having to invest in the physical expansion of the workplace. The cost of office furniture, broadband internet connection, computers, air-conditioning, etc., is really difficult to muster for most start-ups. So, it is logical that the trend of remote working from different locations would come as a blessing in disguise for them. There are plenty of jobs that do not require the daily physical presence of workers in the office. A few examples would be a biochemist, a biomedical engineer and construction engineer. If you are planning to set up a firm that is primarily centered around these (or similar) jobs, then you’re at full liberty to forgo the office set-up. Instead, you would conduct business from your own home (or any other ‘headquarter’ location you choose). and a few decentralized locations scattered across various geographical locations.

Now, the question that arises out of all this is: Is it possible for start-ups to completely bank upon a remote team instead of an office team?

The answer is multi-layered. There are several things that ought to be kept in mind while beginning to work with a remote team. The first thing is the culture of the workplace. Remote workers that are being hired should first be tested for cultural compatibility as well as the speed of task completion and work ethics followed. The second thing is the structure of management. If you have a work supervision and employee productivity tracking system that depends on the physical presence of the employee in question, then problems are bound to arise. As I’ve mentioned previously, there are certain kinds of jobs that people can hold without having to actually travel to an office. If a start-up is made up of people who would be working chiefly from home or other remote locations, then an office would not be required in the first place. On the other hand, if a huge part of the company’s staff consists of people in traditional office-based roles, then that company would need a separate work building. It really depends upon the kind of industry the company is part of, and the type of work the company does.

Here’s what you can do if you’re a start-up and want to utilize a remote office:

  • Don’t use e-mail for communications; make use of Skype or Slack. The only place where you should use e-mail for communications is when you are notifying your employees on an official communication made with another organization. Another instance would be when you’re sending out official invites for a conference call. If you have a very small staff, you may have no need to communicate via technology.
  • You could make use of, as we have already stated above, real-time communication technology such as Flow, Skype, Skitch or Slack. These not only help in interpersonal and inter-group communication but also have live video chats and can also be used to keep track of employee progress. When it comes to keeping all work progress recorded centrally, there are few alternatives to cloud storage mechanisms such as Dropbox. It not only keeps all files stored in one place, sorted according to size, date, priority, and employee, but it also has the provision to bring back a deleted file by clicking the “undo delete” button (Note: This can be done within 30 days of deletion).
  • Create a position that is Two-in-One: Office Assistant and Manager. You could have the same person who has the responsibility of office secretary also carry the responsibility of the event scheduler. They would not only assign you the tasks to be completed but also fix meetings, book flights, carry out transactions with banks and other similar work. Thus, you could have a person handling your projects who knows the details and schedules of the company inside out. Having a position like this can help with better task coordination and optimization time. This position, acting as a schedule manager, is also an able observer of the company’s progress. Owing to their deep knowledge about the work mechanism and schedules of the company, they would be able to provide valuable inputs regarding the work to be completed.

In general, there are many good reasons for a start-up to go completely remote. It is definitely worth the time and effort to explore this as a possibility if nothing else.

7 Important Tips for Leading a Remote Team

Employees are the most crucial part of any business or enterprise. If you have a team with good employees, you will have an edge over your competitors due to increased productivity. Leading your employees through the daily business operations requires you to put in the extra effort. Leading a team of remote employees can have its own set of challenges.

The work environment today grants employees the freedom to work from anywhere in the world due to the presence of the internet and computers. They don’t have to be present at a physical location to work.  There are many benefits to having a virtual team of employees working remotely.

The most crucial advantage is that you can hire talented candidates from across the globe, which contributes to taking productivity to the next level for you. You can bring in innovative ideas by hiring virtual employees and save the cost of maintaining an expensive infrastructure. Although there are many benefits of hiring virtual employees, there is one area that can cause concern – leading a virtual team can be tough. This problem is not insurmountable and can be solved if you follow certain tips. Here are seven tips that will help you to manage and lead a virtual team of employees like a pro.

Hire with Care

When you hire a virtual employee, you have to make sure that you hire the right candidate for the job. You must remember that not everyone can tackle the task of working alone. Although you and other virtual employees may be in contact, there are certain times when individual decision-making might be required. There are people who tend to be inclined to seek help from coworkers or seniors when put in that position. Remote workplaces are generally less social than physical ones and it is difficult to be available to the employee all the time. That is why it is important that you choose candidates who fit all the criteria of the job.  

Set Expectations

When your employee is working via a remote location, it is difficult to keep track of who is doing what amount of work. There is always a fear that keeps you wondering whether your employees are working well or abusing the privilege of work from a remote location. Productivity is the most important factor to consider when hiring regular or virtual employees. To maintain the right levels of productivity you must set expectations that are clearly communicated in a remote workplace model.

You can draw the daily output requirements, the time within which the employee should be available to you and other employees and team goals. This will act as a guideline for employees and will also keep a check on their output. If you have hired the right set of people, setting expectations will give you a thriving team that enjoys the privilege of working from home, but does not misuse it.

Use Technology

Communication and connection are the key to maintaining a successful virtual team. There are many technological tools that help you to connect and communicate with your employees and allow the employees to be in touch with each other.  There are tools that allow you to manage tasks and projects.  You can use tools like calendar, time manager, time zone scheduler, file storage, human resource management, etc to increase productivity.  It’s important to take the initiative to encourage your employees to use these tools as well.

Promote Voice Calling

While text messages and emails are formal and good ways of communication, they are often not easily understood and lack tone. By using voice calling on a regular basis, it will be easier to ensure that the entire team is on the same platform.

Video Meetings

Video meetings will help the entire team to connect with each other. You should encourage video meetings not only with yourself but also among other employees in your absence. As everyone is in remote locations, video calling is a better way to promote a sense of togetherness.

Deeper Bonds

Virtual employees want the privilege of working from remote locations and they often want more warm and friendly bonding than the regular working setup. You must catch up on what is happening in the employee’s life. Try to keep a more relaxed relationship with your employees. This develops a deeper sense of job satisfaction. Virtual employees enjoy a good balance between work and life. You can help them achieve that by adopting policies that encourage work-life balance rather than focusing only on your own profit.

Respect and Flexibility

Your employees might belong to different countries, cultures, and mindsets. Make sure you respect them and have a flexible attitude towards them.

These are some of the tips that will help you lead a team of virtual employees and may even help resolve conflicts or problems before they even arise.

Busted: 7 Myths of Working with Remote Teams

With Cloud Storage and Cloud computing becoming a way of life and business for most big organizations throughout the world, it is now slowly becoming more and more common for companies to hire remote employees. That is, employees who would not be working on the company premises, and in some cases, never even meet face to face with the company’s leadership. They would, instead, be hired based on virtual interviews and online tests. This might sound like a novelty, but it is slowly becoming a reality. The most common forms of cloud working are working on mobile, or from a personal computer at home or any remote corner of the world.

There is a reason why remote work is becoming more popular. Skilled employees are now searching for positions which are autonomous and allow for more freedom. This not only helps them to spread their wings but also nets the company good returns. In this article, we’re going to dispel some of the most popular misgivings and myths that surround remote working.

  1. The first myth is that people who work remotely are not as productive as the employees who work on a site. However, with the presence of modern-day tools for tracking employee activity and progress, such as Slack, there are a lot of ways in which remote employees can be managed and productivity can be monitored. The key is to find out a stable mode to evaluate and measure the performance of others.
  2. A second misconception is that employees who are remote aren’t as skilled. According to this misgiving, skilled employees prefer a formal office environment. They feel that remote employees would never be able to qualify for lead positions. This is especially true for cases where the employee is an independent freelancer or contractor. This, however, is just the contrary. Hiring remote employees would mean expanding outside of your geographical boundaries and being able to mine for talent in uncharted territories where your business might not be physically present.
  3. A third myth that plagues some businesses is, “It is difficult to find remote employees”. This, while true to some extent, can be remedied by reaching out to talent-listing sites such as LinkedIn. There are also innumerable forums and sites which list independent contractors and freelancers who might be inclined towards remote working. It is also useful to locate retired professionals who might be open to earning some extra money working from home.
  4. Companies often think that it is extremely difficult to manage and communicate with such employees, but in today’s world, where workplaces are empowered with forums and message boards such as Trello and Basecamp, it is no longer difficult for a company to communicate with remote employees. Slack is a real-time communication portal that is very similar to Skype. Here, not just individuals, but teams too can communicate with one another and create the sense of a virtual workplace.
  5. Some people think that remote work has no scope beyond IT and data entry. This was true for a considerable amount of time, but now you see companies hiring remote workforces for product development, sales and marketing and work related to SEO.
  6. There is a common misconception that remote employees can not develop any feeling of kinship with the company or its goals. That, however, would not be true. There are plenty of qualified freelancers who are used to working from home and who commit to a company for the right price.
  7. Last, but not least, remote employees are able to be more flexible with the hours they work. They have no demand or need for changes in their work schedule to suit their own convenience. Their hours can be ensured with a virtual agreement/contract.

These, in short, are some of the common myths about hiring remote employees that now, hopefully, stand busted.

Drupal VM 4 Is Here! With PHP 7.1 And Easy PHP Switching

Drupal is the open-source software popular for use in sites which contain blogs, portals, forums, e-commerce sites, information about individual and corporate entities, intranets, resource directories, social networking sites, etc. Written in  PHP, it is available in a ready-to-use format upon being downloaded. This software supports content management, podcasts, collaborative authoring, image galleries, newsletters and much more. Now, the newest and latest version of it is available on the net, seven whole months after PHP 7.0 and Ubuntu 16.04 were introduced by the VM 3 version of this Drupal software.  

Some of you might not be familiar with the concept of the Drupal VM. It is an instrument, or tool, built with the help of Vagrant and Ansible, that helps in the development of  Drupal environments.With the 4th installment in the series the Drupal tool is enhanced in terms of flexibility. You get a plethora of choices to pick from.  A few of the binaries are MySQL or PostgreSQL, Nginx or Apache, Redis or Memcached, and CentOS or Ubuntu.  Also, Drupal VM 4 is empowered with a seamless mode-switching power which allows the web developer to change the PHP mode in a fluid, no-hassle manner. The modes available are 5.6, 7.0 7.1. The best thing is that you can do this without having to recreate the whole development environment.

Here is a comprehensive list of the benefits that Drupal VM 4 would empower you with:

  • A really great aspect is that Drush is completely optional. You can choose to either use the version attached to the project or not use it at all. This is undoubtedly good news for web developers around the world.
  • As already mentioned before, Drupal VM 4 supports all three versions of the programming language PHP: 5.6, 7.0 and 7.1. All you need to do in order to activate the ‘smooth switch’ system is to do an update of the PHP version and run the Vagrant Provision. This easy PHP mode switching is apparently the real reason people are extremely excited about the recent update.
  • Another benefit is that you would now require the use of Vagrant 1.8.6 or later, VirtualBox 5.1.10 or later, and Ansible 2.2.0 or later. Of these, the latter is important only if it is installed on the host.
  • Although PHP 7.0 remains as the default, you’d be able to install the PHP 7.1 or 5.6 in a smooth movement (details mentioned in another point and also in the introduction).
  • You can work these changes on any Operating System, whether on a laptop or mobile.
  • Among other improvements, you can avail of the PHP upload_progress support, the optional DRUPALVM_ANSIBLE_ARGS support for the Ansible CLI options, and use the shallow Drush cones for the sake of building up environments faster. Drupal VM 4 has also added the GitHub ISSUE_TEMPLATE, fixed the Solr versioning error and set the composer.json to “VM” over “Project”.  A few bugs have been fixed; such as the #981, #1014, #1020, #1004 and #1037.

Awesome, isn’t it? And we have the exemplary efforts of Oskar Scholstrom and Thom Toogood to thank for it all!

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