Challenges of an offshore team and how to overcome them

In today’s fast-paced and dynamic business world, more and more companies around the globe are turning to outsourcing as they realise the impact an offshore team can have on business growth, employee productivity and cost reduction. Despite all the benefits, there are of course challenges associated with managing a remote team. In this article, we’ve outlined some of the most common remote team challenges along with good solutions and strategies on how to overcome them.

Challenge #1: Communication

A common problem in managing a team be they onshore or offshore is communication. Clear, consistent and regular communication plays a critical role in the success of any team and in particular an offshore team. Remember to encourage communication, ensuring you regularly speak and interact with your team members.

  • Solution: Encourage open lines of communication

It is very important to encourage an open door policy when it comes to communication. This is critical with an offshore team to bridge the physical distance between you and your offshore team. Encourage team members to speak up if they have questions or concerns and make sure to listen to their feedback.

  • Solution: Conduct daily, weekly and monthly catch-up meetings

Regular communication is critical to building a successful offshore team. With so many virtual tools available today, it is easy to communicate with your team on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. A 10-minute catch up via Skype, a daily “huddle”, or a weekly informal zoom team meeting can make a huge difference. Whatever you choose, communicating with your staff is critical to building a successful offshore team.

Challenge #2: Engaged high performing teams

Having a great outsourcing partner is not enough to guarantee success. You must commit the appropriate time and resources to ensure your staff are well trained and have the tools they need to perform their assigned tasks.

  • Solution: Provide training and development

One way to build a high performing team is to encourage employee growth. Invest in your team and equip them with the skills and knowledge to become high performers. Enrol them in training programs to help further their education and learn new skills.

  • Solution: Team incentives and rewards

You can utilise performance-based incentives and rewards to motivate and bring out the best in your team. Small rewards can go a long way and really help support the engagement of your team. This may include lunches or dinners, a team building day outside the office, bonuses or other incentives.

  • Solution: Visit your team or bring them to your country

Pay a regular visit to your offshore team. While you are there, you can conduct team-building exercises, listen to the challenges they face, and brainstorm ways to further integrate the remote team into your operations. You can also invite members of your team to your local office to understand your daily operations and culture.

Some members of the opitBPO team recently travelled to Sydney, Australia for team building activities and training. Check out our LinkedIn post.

Challenge #3: Onshore engagement and support for your BPO model

A critical part of offshore success is having the right onshore support to manage the team. Remember, your offshore team are an extension of your onshore team and not a separate part. Your onshore resources need to be supportive of your offshore strategy and proactive in the teams management.

  • Solution: Onshore leadership

While you may have multiple points of contact with your offshore team, having one person who is responsible for the general cohesiveness of your offshore team is an important ingredient. Time should be taken to select the right person.

The role of your onshore lead may include:

  1. Daily, weekly and monthly catch ups
  2. Be the first point of call if issues arise
  3. Provide ongoing process support
  4. Lead regular status reviews
  5. Identify improvement initiatives
  6. Provide input and advice on the extension and optimisation of your team

Related: Four Essential Business Functions You Should Consider Outsourcing

Challenge #4: Manage performance

Monitoring the performance of your offshore team is critical to ensure its success. Sitting on the other side of the world makes it challenging to manage the day-to-day tasks of your employees. Here are some ideas for managing your offshore teams performance:

  • Solution: Daily status updates / regular check-ins

Keeping track of your team’s daily tasks keeps your team focused on getting things done. The more involved you are on the day-to-day basis, the better the chance your expectations being met. Conduct a daily stand-up over coffee first thing in the morning and ensure everyone knows what they need to do for the day ahead. Request an update at the end of the working day to explain what was achieved and what tasks are still outstanding. Whatever your method is, ensure your team know what is expected of them.

  • Solution: Performance plans

Just like with your onshore team, setting performance plans for offshore team members is essential to the success of your business. Performance plans help align staff, resources and systems to meet your organisation’s strategic objectives. Ensure performance plans are actionable, well communicated and measured and meet regularly to discuss progress.

  • Solution: Salary reviews and bonuses

Salaries should be reviewed on an annual basis. With offshore staff, there is often an expectation of pay increases that might be higher than what we expect to receive in our home countries. It is important to realise that the take home salary that a team member receives, is only part of the direct cost, with several statutory and non-statutory benefits that make up the full amount. Some of these components are fixed (don’t vary with the salary increase), meaning that a 10% salary increase may end up in a 5% increase in their take home package.

High performance, or going over and above, may also warrant a bonus payment. These can be made at any point during the year, or as part of your general bonus / reward program. Consider extending the same bonus / reward program you have onshore to your offshore team.

Conclusion

Managing an offshore team is rewarding and many organisations are embracing outsourcing as a way to deliver key business functions more efficiently and efficiently. Proactively addressing remote team challenges helps you build a healthy, dynamic, happy, and productive workforce to grow your business.

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

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