How to build a remote team and save up to 80% on production Experience of an Austrian company

Living in Europe and working with a team of remote professionals from the CIS is an increasingly popular practice. We have dozens of examples with impressive results. We would like to tell you about the experience of an Austrian company that has been operating in this way for more than 10 years.
We had the challenge of editing 110 videos. At first, we contacted local Austrian freelancers, it seemed easier and faster. At that time we had no idea what this decision would lead to. Six months of downtime and a lot of pointless and ruthless negotiations were ahead. What's most frustrating, we lost four-figure sums on prepayments - in Europe, even test assignments eat into the budget.
This story was told to us by the founder of the Education in Vienna project, Alexander Solovykh. The situation is familiar to everyone who has ever ordered services from freelancers or remote teams.

The problem is particularly critical in Europe. The prices of local freelancers are several times higher than those of their colleagues from the CIS. The skills and competencies of such professionals are not always higher. How did Alexander get out of the situation? Well, let's take it in order.
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How it all started

Alexander Solovykh moved from Russia to Austria to study at university, and he was so inspired by this country that in 2009 he founded a company here that helps Russian-speaking applicants from all over the world to enroll in local universities and get higher education in Austria.
Today, his Education in Vienna project organizes relocation and admission to educational institutions of the country on a turnkey basis, as well as solves related migration issues. The remote team even managed to launch an ed-tech project: a personalized video course on self-admission.

Over the years, Alexander realized that finding a good IT professional in Europe is a difficult task. That's why he completely focused on freelancers from the CIS countries. Here, the digital industry is several years ahead, there is more choice, and the prices for services are several times lower.
Russian-speaking entrepreneurs probably do not even fully realize what a gap there is between the EU and the CIS in the field of design, technology, and online opportunities. What seems to be usual in Russia will be high-tech in Europe.
Alexander Solovykh
founder of Education in Vienna
A perfect solution, if it weren't for a couple of "buts":

  • a written statement is required for each international payment;
  • the standard bank commission for one swift transfer is from 37 euros;
  • payments to other countries can take up to 5 business days;
  • to reduce the tax burden, closing documents in two languages are needed (additional efforts for both contractors and customers);
  • bureaucracy steals about 10 hours of assistant's working time;
  • higher load on an accountant with a rate of 350 euros per hour;
  • often, to work comfortably with foreign performers it is necessary to open a representative office or an office in the country

Working in this mode was uncomfortable for both the company, legal entity, and the contractors. Especially for natural persons. Bureaucracy took a lot of effort and time.

Since we have a fairly large team (at the moment, 21 people from four countries, including Russia and Ukraine, working as freelancers — 15), it became necessary to pay remuneration so that it was fast and affordable. The usual bank commission when transferring a swift payment is at least 37 euros per transaction. It was financially inefficient for us. Moreover, closing documents were required. Ideally, from a contractor who had to prepare invoices and acts in two languages. It added to our routine work.
Alexander Solovykh
founder of Education in Vienna

How payments to the CIS were organized

A colleague HR specialist from the U.S. helped find a way out. She told Alexander that she works with contractors from other countries through EasyStaff. The service acts as a general contractor and takes on all the tasks of officially making payments to employees and freelancers, preparing closing documents, quick and legal payments in any currency. And all this for a fixed commission of 7% of the transferred amount. There is no need to open representative offices of the company in the CIS countries.

EasyStaff is a convenient payment service for freelancers and remote employees. It allows you to work with contractors of any tax status and from any country without opening an office, receive closing documents from the contracting company in Lithuania:

  1. You enter into just one b2b contract with easystaff.io, invite your remote team to the platform.
  2. From their side, freelancers conclude a service contract.
  3. Set tasks and top up your balance via SEPA bank transfer.
  4. Confirm the completion of the task, and easystaff.io makes a payment to your contractor.
You receive the expense confirmation.

The solution fit perfectly into the company's business processes. Alexander contacted us. In three days we discussed the details of the work, the specific requirements of the Austrian tax authorities, and found the best solutions. We have worked with Education in Vienna for four years.
We have no fear of recruiting a remote team in different countries. We know that we can pay salaries on time. Previously, the payment issue could become a stumbling block that resulted in losing good professionals. Now it doesn't exist.
Alexander Solovykh
founder of Education in Vienna

Video editing task

Let's get back to the unpleasant story. The Austrian team of video editors took time and money from the company. There were raw videos and a faint hope of finding competent contractors and closing the task as soon as possible.

Alexander decided to turn to the Russian-speaking freelancer marketplace. Now he had a tool, easystaff.io that would help build long-term relationships with contractors and not get bogged down with paperwork.

Just a couple of test tasks led him to a strong team from the CIS. The guys coped with the task perfectly in 3 weeks and asked for work 5 times less than their Austrian colleagues. In the EU, professionals of such level are rare, as is such a speed of work. For comparison, it took the Italian candidate five weeks just to legally approve her participation in the project.
If you nurture an idea for a year, hire an employee for months and transfer payment for weeks, creating an actual product is out of the question.
Working with local contractors, Alexander faced restrictions, but he was not afraid to understand the intricacies of hiring foreign professionals. As a result, I was convinced from my own experience that what is considered to be usual in the digital sphere in the CIS countries will be high-tech in Europe.

What helps to build a successful business with a remote team from the CIS

The company has been building an effective HR funnel for several years. Today it looks like this:

1. Draw up a detailed description of the vacancy and specify the selection criteria.
2. Prepare a form for candidates to fill out, ToR for the task, when hiring staff and more tests: PAEI, Hrscanner, on hard- and soft-skills, sales-tests for sales managers.
3. Post vacancies on job websites , in telegram channels, on freelancer marketplaces (Kwork, FL, YouDo, Workzilla).
4. Interviews are conducted via Skype or Zoom. Before that, applicants are asked to record answers to questions in audio format. This technique helps you choose the best candidates for the call.
5. The candidate you like is invited for a trial period of 10 to 14 days. The internal knowledge base helps in adaptation: 300 pages with information about the company's policy, organizational structure, responsibilities and services of the company.

Today, out of 70-100 candidates from different countries, in just a month the company manages to find a "diamond among the glass". Retaining a specialist of this level is helped by an eco-friendly product that is not a shame to sell, interesting tasks, opportunities for professional growth and flexible working conditions and compensation.

The company learned how to work effectively remotely even before it became mainstream, in 2018, during the pandemic grew by 20%. It works with contractors from countries where there are candidates of the right level. Bureaucratic delays no longer interfere with freedom of choice and do not slow down business processes.

Russia, Ukraine, and other CIS countries are a treasure of super-competent and super-efficient modern professionals. Those companies that learn to work with them remotely will provide themselves with competitive advantages for decades to come.

Alexander Solovykh

CEO of Education in Vienna

Need to hire a staff member? We'll help you pay their services appropriately