Delegating work to offshore teams is a widely-used business strategy across various industries. The efficiency and effectiveness of this process have made it a go-to solution for companies looking to cut costs, improve productivity, and scale their operations.
However, offshore teams are only as effective as the management style of their team leaders – and managing an offshore team is no easy feat.
Managing offshore teams can be challenging because of various reasons. These reasons range from scheduling difficulties and cultural differences to mismanaged expectations and lack of leadership.
Fortunately, offshore team managers can overcome many of these obstacles with efficient communication between their teams.
Read on to learn more about the importance of effective virtual communication with offshore teams and how you can apply it when offshoring.
What are offshore teams?
Offshore teams are specialists hired from third-party service providers operating in offshore locations. Due to the geographical distance between offshore teams and the companies that employ them, they often work in different time zones.
Depending on how your partner BPO company operates, your offshore team members may accommodate your business’s operating hours and adjust their shifts accordingly. However, not all BPOs do this, largely for the welfare of their employees. In such cases, your offshore team can function as an extension of your operating hours (i.e., your offshore team can carry on your operations after your in-house team clocks out).
Offshore teams shouldn’t be confused with outsourced workers. While outsourced employees and offshore team members work in another country, there’s a clear distinction between the two.
An outsourced team can come from either within the same country (onshoring), in a neighboring one (nearshoring), or in a geographically distant country (offshoring). On the other hand, an offshore team is solely from countries far from a client’s base of operations (e.g., many US companies have offshore teams in the Philippines).
Why effective virtual communication is vital to offshore teams
Clear and effective communication between members of remote teams aids offshore operations to run smoothly. It helps physically separate teams maintain cohesion, fosters collaboration, and ensures they complete tasks on time.
Other benefits of having effective virtual communication include:
- Fosters a sense of trust
- Promotes collaboration
- Encourages productive conversation
- Helps ensure team members have access to the same information
Open communication between offshore team members also encourages feedback. It sends a message that they can raise inputs and opinions without fear of repercussions.
Effective communication – virtual or otherwise – is proven to improve the productivity and performance of employees. A study conducted by Fierce Inc., a leadership consultancy firm, revealed that 86% of the respondents blame ineffective communication for workplace failures.
The said study involved over a thousand corporate executives, employees, and educators across various industries. Of this number, 97% believe that a lack of alignment (i.e., team members not being on the same page) impacts the outcome of any project.
The results imply that effective communication is necessary for tasks and projects to be successful regardless of industry. This is especially true for offshore teams with members operating in different countries.
How to streamline communication with offshore teams
After knowing the importance of clear and effective communication with offshore teams (and the obstacles that prevent this), it’s time to learn how to improve it.
Below are some actionable tips on making virtual communication with your offshore teams more effective.
Utilize collaboration tools
Take advantage of the various collaboration tools available in the market. Many of these software tools, such as Slack, Flock, Twist, and Zoom, have freemium pricing plans.
Using these tools lets you communicate seamlessly with your offshore team and keep members in the know.
For companies with offshore teams that aren’t working simultaneously with their in-house teams, interacting during overlapping hours is an effective way of communication.
Overlapping hours refer to the time when both in-house and offshore teams are clocked in. For instance, a company’s in-house team in the US may have overlapping hours with its offshore team in India when the US office is about to close and the Indian operations is just beginning.
If a company’s in-house operation hours have no overlaps with its offshore team’s, it can still achieve effective virtual communication asynchronously. Adopting an asynchronous mode of communication between the in-house and offshore teams gives more flexibility as neither team has to adjust to the other’s shift schedule.
Additionally, it lets both teams focus on their tasks without interruptions from real-time communications.
Document important communications
Important communications must be kept documented. They must be in written form instead of just communicated through calls or video conferences.
Writing down critical information shared during conversations is a must when communicating with offshore team members. It ensures that information does not get lost, forgotten, or misinterpreted.
Keep things simple
Offshore team members are often non-native English speakers. Although in countries like the Philippines, professionals have a near-native level of English proficiency. Nevertheless, it’s best to avoid communicating using jargons or highfalutin words when using simple ones will suffice to prevent possible miscommunications
Confirm whether your offshore team member understands you correctly by asking them to explain what you want them to do.
There’s no such thing as overcommunication when working with offshore teams. Constant communication helps you get a sense of the work going on with your offshore team.
Engaging offshore team members in one-on-one meetings is also advisable. Doing so will give you an overview of what they’re currently doing and their task status. It also allows them to air concerns they might feel uncomfortable voicing in team meetings.
Build efficient offshore teams through Arcanys
Arcanys is the best outsourcing and IT staff augmentation firm to choose for businesses looking to build a reliable offshore team of software developers. The Philippines-based Swiss firm helps both established companies and startups scale with on-demand software teams.
The company has over 260 experts with extensive experience in software product design, development, delivery, and support.
Connect with Arcanys now and build your offshore software development team!