7 best practices for managing offshore staff

Mitch Punzalan
AUTHOR
Mitch Punzalan
    4 minute read

Deciding to partner with an outsourcing provider is an exciting time for any organisation. As countless organisations have learned, there are few better ways to increase efficiencies and reduce costs than engaging an offshoring specialist to provide customised staffing solutions for the management of tasks and services that would have traditionally been performed in-house.

Amid all that excitement though, it is understandable for existing employees to feel a sense of trepidation, let alone the executives and managers charged with ensuring a smooth transition to a blended onshore-offshore model. That trepidation can quickly evolve into heightened anxiety if certain issues are not adequately addressed and ultimately, risk the success of the current plan and the potential for future outsourcing opportunities to be explored.

With that in mind, here are seven key steps that should be at the top of every manager’s mind when working with offshore teams.

  1. Support existing staff: it is inevitable some in-house team members will fear outsourcing and that is why communicating the benefits of mixing offshore and onshore is crucial. Honesty is the best policy. Make them aware of your plans to outsource as early as possible and explain why you are doing it, be it to access skills that are not in the local job market or the desire to free up time for them to concentrate more on their core responsibilities. Emphasising that outsourcing will reduce their workloads or deliver sustainable growth will help calm fears, reduce resistance and transform naysayers into outsourcing advocates.

  2. Identify potential tasks: discuss and decide with your onshore team what tasks will be outsourced as it’s important for them to understand the value of offshore colleagues. A key goal is for in-house staff to use their time more effectively and efficiently by moving process-driven tasks offshore, which in turn allows them to focus on high-value tasks that assist in scaling your business. Once you and your team have decided what tasks to send offshore, you should also discuss the type of people that would fit into your organisation’s culture and values.

  3. Upgrade your software: now that you have decided which tasks to outsource, you need to modify your technology to ensure your offshore team will be able to perform them to the best of their ability. How do you plan on managing workflows? How will you share files and documents? Effective communication between onshore and offshore teams is also vital, with tools such as instant messaging, microblogging and video conferencing great for inspiring interaction, co-creation and networking. Software you will most likely need include:

    • Cloud-based CRM
    • Project management tool
    • Software for daily prioritisation
    • Checklist-style set process
    • Video-conferencing software.

  4. Appoint an in-house point of contact or “champion”: effective communication is important when engaging with an offshore team. To ensure this, we recommend appointing an onshore point of contact (POC) or “champion” to act as a direct contact for the offshore team to report to. The POC should also facilitate regular virtual meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page and aware of expectations both onshore and offshore. Outsourcing is not like a regular office environment so extra efforts must be made to provide offshore team members with a platform to brainstorm and share ideas. Nurturing an open and honest onshore-offshore relationship will be well worth the effort.

  5. Buddy up: depending on the size of your onshore-offshore model, pairing workers is a great way to build confidence, collaboration and communication. Outsourcing hubs such as the Philippines have convenient time-zone overlaps with the likes of Australia, which means live interaction is not only a possibility but a genuine asset. Offshore workers will benefit from having a designated in-house contact if they need assistance, while it also increases their accountability if they have an onshore buddy taking a keener interest in their work.

  6. Understand and respect cultural differences: just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong. Quality communication is at the heart of any successful project but it is even more imperative when colleagues are separated by geography or cultures. Educate onshore staff about the need to be aware of social customs and sensitivities as they can affect how directions are received, problems solved and responsibility delegated. When discussing project requirements or agreeing on schedules and deadlines, onshore managers and team members should always confirm that all details are understood and make a genuine effort to help break down any cultural barriers. One of the benefits of partnering with outsourcing providers in the Philippines is that English is widely used and spoken throughout the country and Filipinos have traditionally been influenced with ethical values, traditions, behaviours and ways of life that correlate with many Western cultures.

  7. Recognise and reward your staff: recognition plays a vital role in any organisation and even more so when balancing the onshore-offshore divide. A word of praise or formal acknowledgement from in-house managers can have huge significance for offshore workers and regular efforts should be made to reward quality work and applaud key milestones. Similarly, onshore team members who go out of their way to facilitate strong relationships with their offshore colleagues deserve recognition for setting the standard others should aim for.

Outsourcing has changed the fortunes of countless organisations but it is those that have invested in exploring and choosing the best onshore-offshore model for their individual needs that have reaped the greatest rewards. The ability to ask the right questions, weigh up the pros and cons of different providers and, most importantly, bring your onshore staff along for the ride will go a long way to ensuring a partnership that pays off both in the short-, medium- and long-term.

In order for your outsourcing journey to be a success, it is crucial to fully understand how potential outsourcing providers operate and can meet your business needs. This eBook arms you with 33 questions to ask potential outsourcing providers, covering topics such as operations, holidays and leave, security, HR and recruitment, invoicing and account management.

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