Getting the Most Out of an Offshore Team

Think of outsourcing and most people’s perception is cheap resources capable of little more than menial tasks. Why? Well because businesses can typically save 70% off standard staffing costs by establishing offshore teams. If that’s the case why aren’t more businesses doing it?

Well, there are a number of factors 1) the language barrier, 2) cultural differences 3) time differences 4) it didn’t work out 5) staff are afraid of losing their jobs. When you set up an offshore support team in a country with a developing economy, you automatically save money through reduced wages. Successful outsourcing is not, however, just about payroll savings. The people you’re working with are often as qualified, in some cases, more qualified than your onshore team. So when you think about creating a remote team, think about building a high-quality, efficient workforce that delivers real, tangible value.

So what goes wrong? 

We have decades of experience in working with hundreds of businesses to help them set up remote teams. In our opinion, there are three common reasons why businesses fail when it comes to outsourcing:

  1. Choosing the wrong provider
  2. No offshore/onshore team integration
  3. Poor communication

Choosing the wrong provider

Outsourcing is not a one-size-fits-all type of operation, which is why it’s so important to invest time into researching different outsourcing providers to find the one that fits your needs.

When choosing your outsourcing partner, it’s imperative that you find a provider that understands your business, shares your corporate values and truly cares about your success.

It’s also important to consider what added value a provider can add to your business. If an outsourcing partner only offers ‘cheap staff’ then we recommend staying well away from them. Top providers will provide you with so much more.

Don’t be afraid to ask: “What services can you provide to help my business?”

A reputable provider, such as Cloudstaff, will be invested in your success just as much as you are. They should be able to provide you with access to top-industry professionals to help create your team and workflow, and the tools and software platforms that make remote working simple. And on top of that they provide an environment for the employee that keeps them happy and engaged on a social and personal level too.

No offshore/onshore team integration

If you want your outsourced team to be successful and deliver maximum value to your business, then they need to become a genuine part of your business. 

Remember, your remote team is there to support your operations and to support your local staff, and as such, they need to be integrated with your onshore team. 

The benefits are substantial when your offshore team feels that they are genuinely a part of your team and understand your organization’s wider goals. You will see higher levels of engagement, productivity, loyalty and staff retention. 

Achieving this level of integration does, however, require effort on your behalf. One of our larger customers started with a few members of the team, they now have almost 200 remote staff in a variety of different functions supporting their business. The Australian company spent time teaching the staff how to pronounce Australian towns and speak some Australian slang. They even have a live screen in their Australian offices so the team can speak to the offshore team at any time. The offshore-onshore team relations are now seamless.

We strongly recommend including your onshore staff in the training and onboarding of your offshore team as much as possible. It helps everyone get to know one another and ensures that all staff are on the same page with updated workflows and communication methods.

Likewise, we also recommend looking for other ways to facilitate team integration. Some suggestions might be starting meetings with a few minutes of friendly chat before getting down to serious business, including contributions from your offshore team in company newsletters, online team building activities, and visiting your offshore team in their home country when possible.

Poor communication

Effective communication is the key to successful outsourcing. We can’t stress this enough!

When outsourcing fails or doesn’t live up to its potential, you can almost guarantee that poor communication was a significant factor.

If you want your communication channels to be effective, there are a few things you need to take into consideration:

  • The platforms you use to communicate
  • The frequency of your communication
  • And your communication style

Let’s start with the platforms. Businesses these days are spoilt for choice when it comes to communication methods. Email, phone, Zoom, instant message, and task management platforms such as Slack, Asana or Trello are all available. When it comes to outsourcing, however, video conferencing is king.

So much of our communication is non-verbal, so when delivering project instructions and explaining things, using video platforms such as Zoom or Skype is considered the best option. Emails and messaging platforms are suitable for providing follow-ups for video calls, but we do not recommend using them as the primary means of communication with your offshore team.

Regarding the frequency of communication, we recommend scheduling daily huddles every morning at a minimum. They only need to be short and to the point, but they keep everyone on the same page, focused and in touch.

When working onshore this might not be as important. People know what needs to be done and just get stuck into it. In contrast, when working remotely, it can be very easy to feel out of sight and out of mind, so having quick daily meetings can be very beneficial.

The final point about communication style refers to considerations that need to be made for cross-cultural communication.

While your offshore team members might have excellent English, you still need to be mindful of what you say and how you say it. As much as possible, avoid using slang, colloquialisms and local cultural references as you will likely confuse your staff which can sometimes cause unintended consequences. 

A good offshore provider should be able to help you with local behaviors and cultural nuances. Likewise, it’s good to explain to your offshore team how you work culturally – remember this is a two-way relationship and they are as keen to learn and work with global colleagues.

Outsourcing with Cloudstaff

For over 10 years, Cloudstaff has helped businesses across the global achieve their goals by sourcing knowledgeable, high-performance offshore teams. Whether you’re looking to create efficiencies in your business processes or improve customer experience with 24/7 and free up time for your onshore teams to focus on growing your business.
With a talent pool featuring thousands of qualified candidates, we have the staff you need to achieve success. Contact our team today to find out more.