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I am a Freelance web designer and developer with a small team of freelancer. I had an office for last three years. But I felt that as a Freelancer I can do better work. So I hired various team members from different countries and states and closed my office.

I developed a custom time tracking system by which I will be able to calculate my team's work time and give them salaries. Currently this is the start of the work with a freelance team.

I am looking for some good ideas by which I will be able to keep an eye on my team and know better if they are really working.

I have also various ideas but I guess talking with other freelancers will help me exploring some more unique ideas.

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You cannot control if they work, nor you should. You should control their result!

Make a good system of tasks and milestones and make work-hour calculations for each task. If they are beginners, add some percentage to it and tell them to stick to that calculations meaning that they will be paid for those specific work hours only. All hours above that is unpaid and it should be OK since they are beginners.

When working with seniors, then you should give them each task to estimate their own time of implementation. Compare it with your estimation and try to see why they estimated more or less time. Lower estimation does NOT always mean they are better then you, it can mean that they missed some facts in the logic. After that either try to negotiate they are paid for their estimation or you can allow them some overhead to their estimation.

This way, you will see if they have result. This is all that matters.

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Have weekly on-line team meetings, giving an opportunity for each team member to discuss what work they have done, what work blockages there may be, give an opportunity to ask questions, and most importantly, regularly do a review of work done or ask them to do a demo at regular intervals. If you regularly interact and meet on-line with your team members, and your team does work reviews at regular milestones or intervals - then you should have less risk that someone is messing around with you.

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