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Home » Podcast » Time tracking for remote employees

Time tracking for remote employees

Time Doctor

Today we are joined by Liam Martin, he is the co-founder and CMO of Time Doctor. Time Doctor is a popular time tracking and productivity software. It’s well used and known by the outsourcing and BPO industry. And as well as the home-based freelancer and now remote work sectors, It’s very much a go-to software tool for the sector.

I wanted to get them on the podcast to delve more into the benefits of the tool, ultimately what we’re all trying to do is increase productivity and satisfaction both for employers and employees. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot, and I hope you do too.


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Derek Gallimore: Hi, Liam Martin, welcome to the show. How are you?

Liam Martin: I’m pretty good. How are you doing?

Derek Gallimore: Great. Great. Thanks for joining us and you are the co-founder and CMO of Time Doctor. You’re joining us from Ottawa, Canada, I believe. Can you start by just introducing yourself and the stages you go to for the innovation of Time Doctor?

Liam Martin: Sure. So in two hours, I’m going to Cairo actually. I am probably about to dip my toe into kind of the digital nomad world as well. 

It’s been about six months remote, but you’re right. I am currently located in rural Canada, and I am the co-founder of TimeDoctor.com, Staff.com, and Running Remote, all kinds of tools focused on one singular goal: we want to empower people to work wherever they want, whenever they want. 

I started Time Doctor about eight years ago with my co-founder, Rob, who’s the CEO of the company, and started Staff.com as well around that same time, which is the enterprise version of Time Doctor. And, at this point, I also started Running Remote, which is the conference that we built on building and scaling remote teams. We started about two years ago. 

So out of those three products, we kind of have that end thesis of how can we help facilitate remote work around the world.

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Time Doctor

Derek Gallimore: Right. And for those that aren’t familiar with Time Doctor, can you encapsulate what it is, its essence, and the functions that it offers?

Liam Martin: Sure, so fundamentally, it’s time tracking for remote teams. More specifically, we kind of define it as time analytics for remote teams. So a lot of tools will measure how long it took you to complete a task, but Time Doctor will tell you all the details associated with that particular task. 

We can tell you how productively you completed a task versus other people that completed that same task. Let’s say you have 100 sales reps. Our software can tell you what makes a good sales rep good and what makes a bad sales rep bad. 

And then you can then see those types of actions and activities inside of your own team and optimise accordingly.

Derek Gallimore: Right. Fantastic. And so, we’re obviously involved with small and medium-sized businesses that a lot of them are exploring outsourcing for the first time. 

Some of them are perplexed as to how, when they’re spanning the globe, they can really check to see if people are working, check to see that they’re doing what they say they’re doing. So Time Doctor is obviously a solution to this. 

But how does it differ when people are remote versus people are sitting in an office, maybe in San Francisco, and there’s generally more than an element of turning up at nine and you leave at six; then it’s just assumed that the work will get done kind of the…

Liam Martin: Well, I would say number one, never assume that the work is “going to get done.” There are plenty of people that work a nine to five that don’t do anything. And then there are plenty of people that work two hours a day, but actually, get a lot more done than someone that’s sitting down and working a nine to five. 

It’s really important to disconnect the concept, which is really a post-industrial, absolute or revolution type of concept that just because I’m in a physical space and it looks like I’m working that I’m actually working. 

In the vast majority of cases, that’s not true. And we found in our research that generally, the average worker has about two and a half hours of really productive work time per day. Anything outside of that is either preparing for that work stint, coming off of that work stint or basically wasting time in between. 

If we really wanted to get down into the nitty-gritty of it, in reality, I am a proponent of a four-hour workday. I think it’s a lot more productive for everyone involved. And you’ll end up actually getting more things done during those four hours. But this is something that fortune 500 – it’s a very difficult concept for them to get their heads around.

Derek Gallimore: That’s incredible, isn’t it? So you obviously have an incredible insight into the work practices of many thousands of people I mentioned. And so you can collate the metadata. 

Do you have insights then into the work practices of the majority? So you see that, as you say, people literally just work in two and a half hours, mostly, on average?

Liam Martin: Yeah, so the average workweek – I mean, we have the largest second by second work database on the planet. 

I can tell you that the US work week, and that means work on a physical computer, is 26 hours and 32 minutes. And that’s an end of hundreds of thousands of people. So that’s pretty definitive. 

I also know that it’s almost as definitive because the Canadian data set, which is almost exactly the same, is about 30 minutes more than the US data set. UAE is the laziest country on planet Earth, their workweek is about 15 hours. And China has one of the highest workweeks at 46 hours of on computer time. 

When you look at that data, you can see a lot of variations; how people work, how people interact with work. And then also what are the outcome variables, what did you actually get done in that amount of time. 

Maybe in the UAE, they only work 15 hours a week, but maybe they get the same amount of work done in 15 hours that someone in China 46 hours gets done. It really just depends on what the outputs are. 

I really need people to disconnect the concept that because you’re working longer, you’re working smarter, or you’re working harder. These are, at least in our research, not true. 

Derek Gallimore: And that’s difficult, isn’t it? Because then you’ve been crossing from hard empirical data, which is time spent over to a subjective, you know, what is the quality of the output? What is the precision of the output? 

And it’s, I assume, very difficult to measure those things, isn’t it? Do you delve into measuring the output quality?

Liam Martin: What we do is we combine in a lot of outbound measures. So as an example, in our own organisation, our Sales department, we look at money generated per hour. That is the core metric. 

So I’ll give you an example: a couple of months ago, we had our top salesperson for the month in terms of commissions. And I believe they closed about 5000 MRR. Which is monthly recurring revenue, which is how we measure the number of sales that we make inside of our SaaS business. And the next guy did about 4700 in MRR. However, the woman that did the 5000 in MRR worked 216 hours. 

And the guy that did the 4700 to 800. He worked approximately, I think it was 150 hours. So we divide the hours worked by the sales, and he got the commission. 

So we’re encouraging people to actually focus on productivity, and not necessarily just your top-end number because we believe that that’s going to make the employee a lot happier.

Derek Gallimore: And it’s when you have so many data points that you can sort of chop and change that doctrine, it gives you so much more clarity on actually what the situation is. And then you’re able to refine your processes by kind of feeding the data back into the processes?

Liam Martin: Yeah, I mean, we use a lot of machine learning and artificial intelligence, so we usually let the AI take that over. 

If we analyse, let’s say, 100 salespeople, we can tell you very quickly within about two to three weeks of hiring a new candidate, whether that person is going to be in the top 10th percentile of your sales team. And the AI tells us that that’s not us telling you that. 

SThose are the things that we really think are going to be the future of time tracking and time analytics. When you look at why people deploy time tracking, they’re deploying time tracking to really measure what you do. 

What if you could just go directly to that, instead of dealing with all this looking at how much time somebody worked. Because how much time somebody worked is an interesting corollary. 

But it’s not the endpoint. And there’s a lot of workers that are actually a lot more productive and you don’t really know that because you just don’t have the data available to you to actually understand it.

Key performance indicators

Derek Gallimore: And this is the art of – which outsourcing is very advanced in Germany – it’s the art of building processes, isn’t it, and identifying the purpose of those processes, typically by KPIs or outcomes, targets, and then having people work along with that, then basically refining it as you get more and more data through. And I think the Philippines is fairly advanced in there, certainly in the bigger enterprise levels. 

But obviously, the more data, the better. The problem is though, when you have targets and you have data points, often people can manipulate those. And then you’re always sort of chasing like whack a mole to stop people sort of manipulating the results by the data?

Liam Martin: I think that what you’re trying to touch on is people will always optimise towards whatever result you want them to optimise towards. 

I I say I want you to make as much money as humanly possible, and if you do that, I’m going to give you a carrot. Well, then you’re going to make as much money as humanly possible. 

If I said instead, I would like you to be as efficient as humanly possible, maybe you actually end up making way less money. because the overall efficiency I’m going to optimise for efficiency, so I’m not going to spend my weekends working as an example, and I’m going to make maybe 20% less money, I’ll be a lot happier. 

But maybe I make a little bit less money. The owner of the business I mean, So there’s all of these things. We actually debate this quite a bit like should we optimise for MPS on our support team side? Or should be optimised for how fast we close the ticket. Those are two completely separate things. 

If I am saying to the team, listen, I’m going to look at the core metric of how fast you can close the ticket, well, then people are not going to answer that ticket in as clear away as they should. They’ll just answer those tickets very quickly. And in comparison, if I said, I want you to reduce the number of tickets that we have in support, then they’ll take the time to really write out a very clear, long-winded response to a particular message. 

So the response time will go up, or sorry, will go down. But the actual amount of time that people will send another email will also go down. Which, again, it’s which knob you want to twist to be able to get the certain result that you have at the other end. 

And I know the Philippines is really the king of the front-end office. No one competes. I mean, no other country right now is doing a better job at front-end office outsourcing than the Philippines. So a lot of those debates are currently going on in combination with automation and all these other types of things that are quite interesting. 

But I would probably say at the end of the day, you really need to not think in a unidimensional way. You need to think in a very multidimensional way to think about, well, maybe I want to optimise for MPS. But then I also want to optimise to make sure that these customers are getting the responses quickly, that type of thing. 

So at the end of the day, you’d probably look for a mix of metrics, but that’s more a lot more nuanced and a lot more difficult to For an AI to understand.

Derek Gallimore: Then it becomes a little bit ambiguous, doesn’t it, as you add in KPIs, and you then no longer have key performance indicators. But you have maybe a township, sort of 10 or 20 or 50, then that’s when the ambiguity comes into the functions here. 

But doesn’t that fairly reflect the complexity of a lot of roles, though? Commonly, most roles aren’t easily definable and black-and-white. And it can sometimes take longer to actually build the analytics of the process than actually build the processes.

Liam Martin: I would tend to agree with that, particularly in a tech startup kind of world or a small business world. If you have – I’m sure you’ve been to some of these massive BPOs in the Philippines, but they have their processes on point. 

I remember going into this one BPO, one of the largest in the world, they have hundreds of thousands of employees. They had cells of eight. And they had one manager who was managing that team of seven. And they weren’t smiling, smiling and dialing in. 

On that one floor, I think they had 2000 people and all their processes were locked in because they’re doing it thousands and thousands and thousands of times a day just on that floor in terms of calls that they’re making. And they really know their inputs and outputs in a solid way. 

So in that case, you can really start to understand the processes and know what type of KPIs and output you need. In terms of a smaller organisation, like, let’s say you’re building a product like a software product, it’s a lot more nuanced and a lot more difficult to be able to manage properly. So it really depends on the type of job.

Remote employee monitoring

Derek Gallimore: And in terms of the broader set of management philosophy then, just sort of tapping into your general kind of insights here. There is Marissa Mayer. Silicon Valley is renowned for having a very loose, be responsible for your own activities kind of lifestyle. There was a lot of work from home there like university campuses. 

Marissa Mayer then famously came in and stopped all work from home at Yahoo because she felt that productivity was hampered by that. And I suppose this is polarisation of general management philosophy. 

One of them is to trust your employees, treat them like adults, and obviously, they’re kind of creative juices flow versus kind of locked down the processes and map everything out, remove the sort of creativity aspects. 

But ideally, you would then sort of refine on the productivity and have it more reliable. Where do you sort of fit with that? and does it, maybe, depend on the type of role or the type of business?

Liam Martin: Interesting that you brought up Marissa Meyer. The inside track on that, because she left Yahoo later on in her career. She later explained that it was not necessarily because everyone needed to come back inside the office. It was because the people that had been working remotely had so much freedom that she had no idea what they were doing. 

As an example, a lot of them required to log into VPNs, which would basically be a less i-tech version of what Time Doctor does. So collecting the different URLs that you interact with and collecting that data in terms of just metadata on what people are doing. And she discovered that the vast majority of those people had never logged into those VPN before. 

She had a decision to make which was, do you terminate those people and end up having 500 legal suits on your hands, or do you want to stay say, well, remote work doesn’t work, I’m going to call everyone into the office, analyse what everyone is doing, then figure out whether or not we want to read employee or remote work agreement. And Yahoo has now redeployed a remote work agreement. 

A lot of this stuff is actually perfectly connected to my thesis. You should have the freedom to do your own thing so you should be able to pursue your own way to solve a problem. However, if you’ve solved that problem and you’re not sharing that with others to process documentation, then there’s no point in you doing it in the first place. 

I think of, like, our entire company runs off of process. If you want to change the process, you’re happy, I’m happy to have you innovate, to be able to figure out that type of solution. But at the end of the day, if we actually do find something that works better than you need to integrate that into the process yet again. So we’re always evolving our process documentation.

Derek Gallimore: Incredible isn’t and do you find, with your metadata, do you measure whether there is any productivity improvement or production if people are home-based versus office-based?

Liam Martin: Yes, we do look at that. So that’s actually very interesting. We have done a little bit of analysis on that. I’m not quite ready to put out the piece that we’re currently working on. 

But it does look like people that work from home on average are basically about 15% less productive than people that work inside of an office, which was a very counterintuitive perspective that I had. 

However, if we look at general, like employee MPS, like employee happiness, it’s off the charts. Remote employees are about 40% happier than their in-office counterparts. They also stay with the company a lot longer than their in-office counterparts. 

So you do take a bit of a hit on the day to day productivity but in terms of having to terminate someone or having someone quit on you, which is really the cost that hurts you at the end of the day, that’s significantly better. 

So like, if I just give you the direct answer. working from home is less productive than working in an office, correct. However, it’s a lot more multifaceted than that. And we’re still doing analysis on that kind of data.

Derek Gallimore: Fantastic. You really getting incredible insights into the future for certain in the direction of global work.

Liam Martin: My undergraduate and graduate degrees were all in sociology, and particularly in the sociology of work. So I love this. It’s kind of this amazing data set that I get to work with whenever I want and I want to figure out the answer to a question, I just asked the data and it There’s an answer.

Employee motivation

Derek Gallimore: I’m a little bit old school in terms of, I fundamentally think that most people are leaning towards lazy. And that’s not a derogatory statement, but I think we all tend to go for the easiest route.

And relatively, I enjoy fitness, but I can never exercise outside of the gym. I can get zero motivation to suddenly jump on the floor and do some press-ups. Do you think it’s the same sort of motivators at play? 

Now, obviously, if everyone was super disciplined, they would get up in the morning, they would have a coffee, go straight to the desk. Do you think that some of these rituals that we have, like going to the office, it’s a pain but once you’re there, you start working, you have the camaraderie of your workforce, do you think all of those things play into better productivity? 

Or do you think in an ideal utopian world, everyone would just live and work in their own environment this moment?

Liam Martin: I think it boils down to probably two separate factors, which is the culture that you create inside of your organisation; So are people doing this for more than money? Is there some other reason that they’re doing it? And we’re really focused on trying to make sure that we discover that inside of the people that we hire. 

Generally, we call them kind of true believers, which is, are you passionate about the project that we’re working on which is facilitating remote work? Or are you not? If you are not then don’t work here. There’s plenty of other fantastic opportunities that you can go after. And that definitely allows us, too.

I have this adage, which is, don’t ask me what to do, tell me what you did. And I always want those types of people around me. I don’t ever want someone to come to me and say, I don’t know what to do, please tell me what to do. That’s basically the fastest way for you to get fired if you’re working with me. 

Now, with that said, I think another factor that connects to this is we are seeing, I believe, a disconnect between people who are focused high performers that had been able to kind of get into the 21st century economy and understand how it works, and are very excited about it and are reaping the rewards and benefits from it, and then the people that are not going after that side. 

I would probably say it’s about 10% of the population knows how to work in the 21st century kind of tech society and 90% of people that we look at do not have that type of capability. 

And I think that’s the one that you’re referring to the lazy “people” that kind of just put in the minimum amount of time that they need to be able to do something. They’re not really thinking effectively about a problem before approaching it. 

They don’t understand that it’s not so much about doing the work, but it’s about looking at all the information available and trying to figure out the most elegant way to solve a problem. Because we have such a massive informational advantage, even in comparison to 10 years ago. 

There’s a YouTube video on everything. There was no reason why you can’t do anything. Any task I set you, I asked you to do, because the answers are already there. You don’t need to do the research, you need to navigate that information. 

There’s a big part of the population that doesn’t have that capability. And then there’s a smaller part of the population that does. Those are usually the people that we find that are relatively successful. 

One other thing that we look for when we’re hiring people is: have they worked a retail job? Have they done any sort of military service? Or have they competed in competitive sports? 

They haven’t done one of those three things, we’re usually very apprehensive about hiring them or hiring them because they usually will not have the grind to be able to make it through the tough times in any position that we set up for them.

The future of work

Derek Gallimore: And that’s it, isn’t it? And I think anything is about grind. Even if you’re playing your favourite sport, or generally, there are points where it’s not enjoyable at the moment and you’ve got to push through that and it’s about having the maturity and the sort of discipline to realise that not everything is fun and games in every moment. 

And I think it takes a certain amount of socialisation especially for young people coming into the work industry to realise that sometimes it is a bit of a grind, but it’s about the long term ambition. And maybe do you think that it helps then if people start in an office environment and then go remote? Or do you see the future of workers, everyone will just be remote?

Liam Martin: Most studies, and there’s been three major studies that have been done, project that the US workforce will work majority remote more than 50% by 2027. Another study has it posted for 2025. Right now, the US workforce is about 6.8%, then work remote. 

This is a huge shift in the way that we’re going to be working. And when you look at outsourcing fundamentally, if you’re in Manila, and you want to, if you work in a front-end office, as a call center rep, your jeepney ride is probably two hours in two hours back. 

So four hours of your workday is spent just commuting. So I actually think that the Philippines and Manila, in particular, has a huge advantage for working remotely. They just need to be able to deploy the telecommunications infrastructure that they need to be able to have people work remotely. 

Either directly from home or to be able to build smaller cells in local neighbourhoods that people can do a 10-minute walk to a co-working space or very small office in and do their work there. So I see that being the evolution of remote work. 

I mean, maybe that’s not a purist version of what some people would call remote work, but it definitely makes the employee a lot happier, where they can spend less time doing the things around work, and they can focus on the actual work.

Derek Gallimore: That is the real cost is now I suppose to both parties, the employer and the employee. It’s all of the exhilarating time getting into work, surrounding the sort of work activity. That is just ultimately unproductive. 

And would you then, for Time Doctor, would you suggest that if people have their outsource teams or remote teams using Time Doctor, do you suggest them that everyone uses Time Doctor? Or is it sort of a tool that is specifically purposed, if you can’t see the people?

Liam Martin: So we have plenty of clients that use it in office. I think right now we’re about 50% remote, 50% in the office. We use it. I’m using it right now. I’m doing this call with you. 

Then that data will get sent back to our podcast kind of project category. I’ll be able to analyse this data and figure out what I do with podcasts and how long they take and how productive they are and what the ROI is on them. 

So we use Time Doctor for everyone in the organisation and that really allows us to be able to gain clarity across the entire org chart so anyone in the company can see my data, they know exactly what I’m doing, then I can see their data. 

That’s the way that we’ve set it up and we see it as an advantage for us personally, but it may not be an advantage to you. So it really depends on the use case.

Derek Gallimore: Incredible. And then I suppose, in terms of the businesses that you see you have obviously a significant involvement in the Philippines and outsourcing very familiar with it all and no doubt a lot of your clients use it in the Philippines. 

Do you see a relationship between the US or home-based practices being in office, and then commonly when they come to the Philippines and they outsource they are home-based? Is that is that quite a common structure? 

If so, why do you think sort of people go in-office, kind of standard employment in their hometown, and then they come here and it’s a home-based arrangement?

Liam Martin: Well, I think it’s number one, just the bureaucracy of actually deploying and offices is pretty difficult in the Philippines. So you have to set up a corporation, you have to set up a business license, all that kind of stuff. And people don’t necessarily want to be bothered. 

It also has to be owned in part by a Filipino, which is also another variable that just opens you up to other versions of risk. So, on that end, I think there’s just sort of like an institutional cost. 

That’s where BPOs really come in as such a huge advantage, which is they’re going to handle all that bureaucracy for you on your behalf and they’re going to provide you – there’s a lot of seat rental BPOs and usually, we’re part of a lot of their technology stacks. 

We’ll say okay, well, you’ve got your office, you’ve got your chair, your terminal, your free coffee, all these types of things. You’ve got your manager. Do you want to also deploy Time Doctor on top of that? 

Fighting distractions at work

That’s where we see ourselves as being a really good extra piece of that puzzle. Because then the employer or the person that needs the work done can get that type of granularity that they need. And they don’t have to actually be trusting a manager as an example, which is something that that was the old school way of doing it. 

I’m sure it’s still running some BPOs at this time, but I used to see minders. I remember about five years ago, when I was looking at all of the call center companies, there would be this guy that would be walking around behind like, 20 or 30 computer terminals. 

I would say like, well, who is that guy? It’s like, Oh, that’s a minder. They’re just watching to make sure that they’re not going on YouTube or Facebook. And I was like, wow, okay. So our software is making him redundant because you don’t necessarily need that person at that point. 

It also just provides a little bit more freedom right to the employee to be able to say, we want to be able to do the work that we want to do. And we’ve also found through our research that going on Facebook and YouTube, in some cases actually makes you a lot more productive. Even though that seems counterintuitive. 

The people that don’t go on to Facebook as an example, are less productive than the people that do. If I were to give you that as a direct answer, it’s a little bit more nuanced than that. If you lock down through a VPN access to Facebook on a company computer, then they will run into the bathroom or they’ll check their mobile under their desk. That’s actually a lot bigger of a productivity suck. 

We always tell people, let them have their time on Facebook and YouTube and these distractions. Sometimes you need these types of distractions in order to be more productive. 

But again, this is something that I have very clear black and white data on. But when I have these conversations with employers, they emotionally do not believe it, which is unfortunate.

Derek Gallimore: It’s incredible, isn’t it? And every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And it’s a bit like setting the KPIs as well. It’s very difficult to sort of ultimately push people down the right channel. 

Going back to this discipline and the grit and grind, people have so many distractions. It’s so easy for someone in those moments where work is hard to go to Facebook because these things are optimised to give them sort of short term pleasure. It presses all the buttons. 

It’s really difficult for an employer to compete against all of the potential distractions, isn’t it? And, of course, it’s YouTube with sort of endless millions of hours of content there that can just tap into. It really is the challenge. 

I suppose ultimately, that’s why it comes down to the mission and the culture and getting people really on board with the direction of your company and the project that they’re working on.

Liam Martin: I mean, are you more exciting than Candy Crush? Is what you’re trying to do more exciting? And that’s what you’ve got to fight. I actually call that entire industry, the distraction economy. So there are these companies that are spending not just billions but trillions of dollars on how to distract you from what you want to do. 

I would like to do this podcast right now but there are beeps and bots that are always attacking me from multiple factors. And they know exactly when to contact me. I mean, even with Facebook as an example, their algorithm is perfectly set up to draw out your feedback loop with regards to likes. 

So they know as an example, there’s a certain component of your friendslist that will like absolutely everything that you look at, a story that they look at. So they will purposely keep those people in reserve, and they will show your post to people that may like your post, and then you’ll get a few likes from those. And you’ll get that dopamine hit. 

And then later on in the evening as an example, they’ll then deploy the people that we know will always like your posts, and you’ll get another dopamine hit. Because they’ve discovered whether you get 20 dopamine hits in an hour or 10 dopamine hits in the morning and 10 dopamine hits in the afternoon, that’s going to give you that’s going to make you more addicted to Facebook. It’s that continuous hit regardless of whatever the size is

Derek Gallimore: And they’re optimised for addiction. And so it’s this continual battle to keep people engaged in something that is going to be fundamentally less rewarding in the short term,

Liam Martin: Digital crack. I mean, one of the things that I do with my phone is I always keep it on grayscale. 

A major way that you can reduce a lot of these distractions is by removing the colours because colours are a major way to get that dopamine, oxytocin hits. So for anyone that’s kind of looking at it on Android, I think you just go into the settings and you just switch it to greyscale. And it’s, it’s been huge for me. 

And I found that I spend a lot less screen time when it’s all in grayscale.

Derek Gallimore: Crazy, because both you and I are founders and business owners. And we, in theory, should be the most motivated. But it’s still easy to get distracted, isn’t it? 

And I think because you fall down or go down a hierarchy of a company, the poor guys doing customer service or something. Sure, they can still buy into the mission, but it’s somewhat diluted, isn’t it? 

I think you have to try even harder to keep those people engaged and give them a real mission to strive for so that they can take the responsibility and also have the discipline so that they resist the temptations. 

As you say, you can have incredible software on the computer that can restrict things. You can have the minders that physically walk around and stop people, but they’re going to sneak into the bathroom.

Liam Martin: I mean, if people don’t want to do the job, you should probably stop them. You should probably get them off your bus as quickly as humanly possible. That’s just a clear fundamental. 

I categorise people in four separate categories. There are people that are in the right place in the right position and have the right culture fit. There are people that have the right culture fit, but they’re in the wrong position and need to reorganise them to a different position. 

There are people that don’t have your culture fit down and are not performing very well in their position. That’s an easy fire. The worst category, the most difficult category is people that are doing really well at their job but don’t have the right culture fit. And I’ve identified myself that these people are cancer towards your organisation. 

You need to get them off, you need to get them out of your organisation as quickly as humanly possible. This has been proven time and time again. We fired our top salesperson about three and a half years ago, and after I did that, I found out that the entire sales team got a 10% bump, just because they were so happy that that person left. 

These are the types of things that you need to really analyse. I mean, at the end of the day, at a certain scale, I’d say once you’re past 100 people, it’s almost entirely just people management. You do very little outside of just people management and then keeping everyone aligned on that on that cultural goal.

Derek Gallimore: And it comes down to the fundamentals of it. It is Sociology, It’s Psychology, isn’t it, of just getting people mentally on that bus and all pushing towards the same point. 

It’s incredibly it’s an incredible Mosaic, isn’t it of running a business, managing people managing remote teams, and getting everyone to work towards one goal?

Liam Martin: Yeah, I used to do this, I don’t do this anymore. So if anyone’s listening to this, that works for me. I’m not doing this anymore. 

But after about three months of working for someone, or for me, usually at our team retreat, I would bring them into a room and I would put down like three months of their salary in cash. 

I would say, so we’re at the three-month mark. And how are you feeling? You know, where are you at right now? Do you want to leave? Do you not feel culturally aligned? I can give you three months right now and you can walk away. 

I’ve only had one person that’s taken that out of like the 30 or 40 times to I’ve tried it, but that just reinforces for them. You’re not doing this for money, you’re doing this because this is a very exciting company. And we’re doing things that no one has done before in the history of our civilization: the ability to be able to analyse work at scale, be able to empower people to work remotely. 

These are the things that I find very exciting. And you’re either interested in that or you’re not. If you’re not, we can find you another job. You can do a fantastic job somewhere else. You’re just not the person for us. And I think that’s something that a lot of founders are scared of. But in reality, it’s something that is it really move your organisation forward. 

I know one other guy that runs Second Life. I can’t remember his name right now. He would always have an anonymous vote. And the vote would be every quarter: is the CEO doing a good job? Basically, should the CEO leave? And he promised that if it was ever over 50% he would. 

And it’s ever been at that point, but that’s one of those things that also give you that feedback to know. Okay, are you doing a good job? Are you moving everyone forward? Or are you building some type of cancer inside of your organisation that you really need to write out? 

So I think about those things quite a bit. And as we scale as an organisation, it’s become clearer and clearer to me that that’s probably the only thing that fundamentally matters.

Derek Gallimore: It’s fascinating, isn’t it? Because we have a lot of conversations with sort of medium-sized business owners and they want to outsource and they have an impression that they can just kind of outsource a process, like, get this done for me, thank you very much. I’ll come back in three months. 

And I try and explain that there’s an incredible nuance to building teams and building processes and you need continual feedback. These things are very complex. And I think this is a great discussion with head in that we started talking about software. But ultimately it comes back to this so many variables. 

There’s the psychology, there’s the mission, there’s – and it’s getting all of these ducks in a row. Then you have a successful process and team and it’s also about using the software and tools you have at your availability. So it’s fascinating, isn’t it? Appreciate that.

Liam Martin: I always talk about it. It’s people, process, and tools, in that order. So if you have amazing tools, but you have really bad processes and stupid people, you’ll burn your business down even faster. Because those great tools will be able to dismantle the business even faster than before. 

So it starts with people. That’s most of the battle. Then it’s having the processes in place to be able to make sure that those people are being directed in the right direction. And then the tools just optimise that process.

Derek Gallimore: Absolutely. Fantastic. Liam, it’s been a great chat. Thank you so much. And if people learn about Time Doctor or any of the other suite of businesses you run, where can they go?

Liam Martin:  Timedoctor.com, you get a free 14-day trial. I think if you go to timedoctor.com/Liam, you get a special a little extra. I don’t know what that extra particularly is.

But I know that that’s probably the best link that you should choose if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this particular podcast. 

Then if you want to check out our conference, which is the largest conference on remote work, you can go to runningremote.com

Derek Gallimore: Fantastic. Thank you so much, man.

Liam Martin: Thanks for having me.

Derek Gallimore: That was Liam Martin, the co founder and CMO of Time Doctor, Staff.com, and the Running Remote conference. If you want to get in touch with Liam or know any more about this episode, go to our show notes, which is at outsourceaccelerator.com/265. And as always, if you want to ask us anything, then just drop us an email to [email protected]

Listen to more podcast episodes here:

  1. US nearshoring vs offshoring with Nearshore Americas’ Kirk Laughlin
  2. Using outsourcing to grow faster and radically reduce staffing costs
  3. Work from home pros and cons

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About Derek Gallimore

Derek Gallimore has been in business for 20 years, outsourcing for over eight years, and has been living in Manila (the heart of global outsourcing) since 2014. Derek is the founder and CEO of Outsource Accelerator, and is regarded as a leading expert on all things outsourcing.

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