Congratulations! You’ve pulled the trigger and decided to set up a team of outsourced staff. A world of benefits awaits, but before you can reap the rewards, a strong foundation needs to be set in place for your remote team.
Without this foundation, it can become difficult to unlock the full value that outsourcing offers. This is why it is so important to have a carefully considered onboarding process for your offshore staff members.
Even if you already have existing onboarding programs in place for your local staff, there are a few additional considerations that you will need to make when working cross culturally with a remote team.
Most outsourcing providers should be able to assist you throughout the process, but to help you hit the ground running, the team here at Cloudstaff have come up with a list of our 10 tips for successfully onboarding outsourced staff members.
Top 10 tips for onboarding outsourced staff
- Train your local team
- Document your processes ahead of time
- Build relationships
- Choose the right communication methods
- Establish regular team huddles
- Visit your team (if possible)
- Learn about culture
- Reach out for advice
- Introduce to wider staff, see the bigger picture
- Be patient & positive
Train your local team
Before you even begin training and onboarding your new staff members, it is imperative to make sure that your existing local team is on board and knows the processes that are involved. It’s likely that they will have many questions about the changes that are happening and may even have some concerns around what bringing in outsourced staff will mean for their own job security. Setting up training sessions with your local staff is a great way to clear the air and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Most workplace onboarding sessions around the world involve some type of ‘introduce yourself’ activity to start the session. They are usually brief (and sometimes a little awkward) but that’s okay because over the following days and weeks, new staff have plenty of opportunity to build relationships around the watercooler or while on a coffee break. This isn’t the case, however, with remote working. To make new staff feel welcome and build the sort of relationships that build a great workplace culture, you will need to be a little more proactive in facilitating conversations and getting to know your outsourced team.
Rather than a single activity on the first day of onboarding, many of our successful customers recommend starting each meeting with short conversations to help your staff get to know each other. This sets a positive tone from the outset and helps to build a productive work environment.
Document your processes
As any good boy scout will tell you, the key to success is to be prepared. In terms of the onboarding process, this means having your training materials and processes ready ahead of time. We highly recommend documenting processes and making them available in a central repository for staff to refer to both during and after their training. In an onshore setting, new staff members can simply ask the person next to them if they didn’t quite get something, but this becomes a little more difficult when your staff are working remotely. We find that having access to recorded process guides is extremely beneficial when onboarding remote staff.
Visit your staff (If possible)
Just because your team will be working remotely doesn’t mean that they won’t benefit from some face-to-face training and interaction – especially during the onboarding process. While traveling overseas to conduct training isn’t always practical or possible, being able to meet the staff in person and seeing their working environment first-hand will likely benefit you, just as much as it will benefit them.
Choose the right communication methods
Never before have businesses had so many different ways to connect with each other: Email, phone, video call, instant message, traditional mail, phone apps, task management platforms, and some people even still use the fax machine. For your staff onboarding, however, there is only one platform that you should be focusing on, and that is video conferencing. So much of our day-to-day communication is done non-verbally, so being able to see the trainer and the trainer being able to see the new staff is particularly helpful. Research conducted by Forbes reports that 73% of executives at high growth companies found that video conferencing improves the quality of communication when compared with other methods.
Even after the initial onboarding period, we highly recommend maintaining video conferencing as your primary means of communication, with other methods used for follow ups and supplementary materials.
Establish regular team huddles
When working remotely, it can be very easy to feel out of sight and out of mind. We suggest scheduling daily team huddles, just to check in and make sure that everybody is across what they will be doing for the day, and is on the same page. These huddles might only be 10 or 15 minutes out of the day, but they can make a huge difference and help your team feel connected. To be effective, these huddles need to be consistent, so it’s best to emphasize their importance right from day one.
Learn about the culture
Take the time to read and learn about the country you are outsourcing to and its culture. It’s inevitable that there will be some cultural differences when offshoring, but knowing a few local customs and cultural traits can go a long way towards building strong working relationships and achieving better outcomes.
Reach out for advice
This might be your first time setting up an offshore team, but your outsourcing provider has done it many times before and has seen first hand what works and what doesn’t. Any quality provider will be only too happy to share their experiences with you and help you along the way. Many will also assign someone to help you and be there to answer any questions. For example, at Cloudstaff each customer has their own dedicated Account Manager to help set up your team, as well as Customer Success Managers who are industry experts in your specific field that can assist with setting KPIs, training, team configuration, and metrics.
Show your team the bigger picture
One common mistake that we regularly see businesses make when onboarding outsourced staff is the tendency to only introduce their new staff to the managers whom they will be directly reporting to. We find that it is a much better option to introduce the new staff to your wider team. This has the dual benefits of helping your outsourced staff to feel as though they are part of something bigger and understand their roles better, as well as helping both teams to put faces to names. Interestingly, many of our customers have commented that their onshore teams have felt far more comfortable with outsourced staff once they were able to see and hear them via video.
Be patient and positive
Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor will your outsourced team. There will be hiccups along the way but that’s all a part of the learning curve when trying new things. Most hiccups are easily overcome and your outsourcing provider will be able to help you when they occur. The important thing is to remember that you are well on the way to establishing smarter and more efficient operational methods for your business. Stay positive and enjoy the ride!
Looking for other outsourcing tips and strategies?
Cloudstaff’s outsourcing experts are always available to help. We’ve been setting up offshore teams of outsourced staff in the Philippines for over 10 years for companies of all sizes. From helping you get started to fine tuning high-performance teams, we are always happy to share our experience with you. Speak with us today.