#TechieTips: 4 Things to Consider When Working With Remote Developers in India

As a developer, one of the first things you ask yourself when launching a new website, mobile app, or platform is, “Do I have the budget to hire additional development talent to assist in accomplishing this goal?” The first thing that most teams consider is hiring a remotely stationed development team. However, the biggest complaint about this method is ineffective communication.

I reached out to my colleague, fellow #techie Rishabh Sharma, to learn more about Indian culture and how to successfully utilize remote development. Originally from India and a graduate of Berklee College of Music, Sharma is a successful entrepreneur and technologist that has managed to combine his passion for the arts with his passion for technology as the CEO of Poletus, a social media marketing company. The Los Angeles-based tech firm has over 60 remote employees in India.

Sharma informed me that many companies believe that outsourcing labor to India is the best option, because of its affordability. He also shared insight on some best practices to cultivate productive working relationships with remote developers. Here are four takeaways from our conversation about what startups should consider when launching a remote team in India:


1. Know Your Talent


Sharma told me that he has seen executives make rash decisions, awarding projects to the lowest bidder. Do not fall for the low-pay trap. It’s important to remain selective about who you choose to work with and to not impulsively make snap judgments based on budget constraints. Choosing the lowest bidder often fails, particularly if they are freelancers, as they depend on accepting multiple projects, so nothing is a priority to complete.

Talented developers cost money and use competitive hourly rates. If you have a project that will require a month to complete, ensure your pay is greater than the living expenses required to live in the city they are from. This way, you can ensure your project is their priority, and they are not sourcing multiple projects at the same time just to pay their bills–the tech industry is not a sweatshop.


2. Understand Your Talent


“Being able to understand the cultural differences between both the employees and the employer is key. Having people work for milestones is a good way of building trust. Do not try to go overboard with trying to learn novelty Indian customs, as that can come across as patronizing and inauthentic,” Sharma says.

If you give your remote employees respect, they will give you the world. Because work is considered sacred in India, it is important to remember a few do’s and don’ts to maintain a copacetic dichotomy:

  • Keep all conversations on-point and on-topic.
  • Don’t mix work and play, as doing so is thought of as disrespectful.
  • Do not patronize employees.
  • Do not try to dangle the carrot of future work in front of employees. This can create a climate of doubt and distrust for employees, as they will question your access to funds.
  • Be prepared, flexible, and willing to work based on the time-frames and schedules of your remote employees. 
  • Allow creative input from the development team, as opposed to running your project in a dictator-like manner. Granting outsourced employees creative freedom will always get the best results.
  • Be mindful of Indian holidays, taking them into account while scheduling product roll-outs with your Indian team. Also, know that it is acceptable to give gifts your remote employees during Diwali or New Year’s.


3. Hire Teams, Not Individual Freelancers


Always go after teams. Teams that have had previous experience working together are more effective than individual freelancers. They will most likely have a project-manager style, which typically results in a higher quality final product.


4. Is Your Company Currently in a Position to Hire out of India?


To outsource to India, you first need to have enough capital for a quarter of the cost. It’s also important to ensure scalability and secure proper documentation. Many times, businesses will hire people to write code and impose unrealistic deadlines. So, things may completed, but without documentation, it’s moot. Emphasize documents so that, if something doesn’t work out, you will not be forced to remain stuck with only the original developers.


Looking at India as a cheap getaway is a bad idea. However, if you respect these employees and their culture, then you can expect to have a very synergistic and beautiful experience.