Let me start this article with an enlightening comparison:
Now, as it is evident from the table, offshore hiring gives you the best of all worlds. It eliminates the risk associated with freelancers and gives you reliability just like hiring an in-house professional. As a bonus, you get flexibility, affordability, and accessibility to a large talent pool.
The only challenge with hiring an offshore team is communication.
However, you can easily resolve this issue by following certain guidelines.
Before we discuss how to curb this problem, let’s understand the “why” around it.
Challenges With Setting Up Clear Communication In Offshore Hiring
1. The professionals are based in different time zones
Nowadays, Google Meet, Skype, and Zoom calls have facilitated communication in remote settings. However, time zone barriers still exist. Offshore hiring becomes challenging because of this. For example: 10 AM in California is 7 PM in the Netherlands. In other words, the day ends in the Netherlands when it starts in California. It will obviously be somewhat challenging to work in such a scenario. [A tad funny because Good Morning at one end will be Good Evening/Night elsewhere.]
It leads to asynchronous communication in which you do not expect the people to reply at a particular time.
2. Language is a barrier
Let me talk about a personal travel experience. I had gone to Paris and my cab driver could not understand English. Thanks to Google and my elementary level skill in French, I could converse with him and let him know where I had to reach. That’s exactly what language barriers are. No wonder, certain provinces have made it compulsory to learn their language before granting the visa to immigrants. The same holds when you have to hire an offshore professional. You may not be well-versed with their language and vice-versa.
3. It can be a tough task to manage too many remote professionals
If you have an entire team working remotely, it can be daunting to manage them and understand their individual responsibilities. Communicating with all of them one-on-one becomes too time-consuming.
4. The planning and documentation is not upto the mark
Most of the time, bad planning and inadequate documentation leads to communication problems. Working with offshore teams becomes difficult if you do not define the scope of work properly. An incomplete brief will lead to long, time-consuming discussions. It can also lead to multiple revisions in some cases.
Weighing up these issues will help come up with solutions to overcome them. So, let’s unfold ideas to enable easy communication with offshore teams.
1. Share the knowledge with your remote team
Knowledge sharing is the basis of seamless communication. Give access to your technical documentation, guides, presentations, and spreadsheets that contain your brand guidelines, processes, tasks, and workflows. It will help the offshore team in doing their job perfectly without any miscommunication and rookie errors.
If you are skeptical about sharing such confidential information, get an NDA signed from the offshore team.
2. Set the right expectations
Every professional in the offshore team must be clear about the weekly tasks, the to-do list, point of contact in case they have a question, and the project ownership. Keep the message focused without any irrelevant information. For example: If you have hired an offshore email developer, share the email design in JPG format. Also, include the PSD, Figma, Sketch, AI, or PDF file along with it. Let the developer know all the relevant details like:
- Fallbacks to be included in the email for custom fonts, rich media elements, or interactivity
- Alt-text for the visuals
- Links for the CTA
- Preheader text
- Editable blocks of the email
- Dark mode compatibility
- Whether you need any ESP for the email
Note: If you need a Dark Mode compatible email, you must provide the design file with transparent images. Remembering all such minute details will make it easier to work with an offshore team.
3. Take the help of collaboration tools
Make use of collaboration tools like Slack, Google Meet, Skype, and Zoom calls for frequent communication with the offshore team. Do not shy away from scheduling follow-up calls and catch up with the professionals working remotely. You can also use project management software like Trello and Proofhub to maintain the to-do list and track the status of the tasks.
Furthermore, you must take an inclusive approach and keep everyone in loop whenever you are taking any important decisions. This will make sure that even the offshore professionals do not miss out on any critical piece of communication.
4. Explain in simple words
An offshore team might not be well-versed with your language. So, avoid using any jargon or fancy words. Keep the verbiage as simple as possible. Explain in the simplest language. You can confirm whether they understood it by asking them to repeat the same.
5. Document all the important communications
As mentioned above, asynchronous communication is more about keeping the communication in the written format. Rather than cribbing about it, see it as an opportunity. When you work with an in-house team, it is more about face-to-face conversations. It has a greater chance of getting misinterpreted. On the other hand, email is the commonly used communication medium for offshore professionals. Therefore, everything is documented. It has a lesser chance of getting misinterpreted and people can read the message whenever they want to.
6. Communicate during the overlapping hours
If you are still uncomfortable with the thought of “waiting for a reply”, use the overlapping hours to communicate with the offshore team. For example: If you are working from India with an email developer based out of Paris (France), communicate with them during the day. Contrarily, communicate after 8 PM IST with the developers based out of Houston (Texas). Alternatively, you can modify the shift timings of the in-house or offshore team to overcome the timezone barriers and enable continuous communication.
7. Try to understand the cultural beliefs of your offshore team
Working with an offshore team is a great experience as you get to learn about different cultural beliefs. Communication becomes easier when your in-house and offshore team are familiar with each other’s culture. As an instance: If you have an offshore professional working in France, you must be aware of the Bastille Day celebrations on 14th July. It will make the offshore professional feel that you care about their tradition and reduce any conflict.
Apart from cultural beliefs, take time to learn about work culture too. People in certain countries do not work during the weekend and you must respect their personal space. It will help you keep away from any unrealistic work expectations and eliminate unnecessary friction because of that.
8. Allocate the responsibility thoughtfully
Every professional in the offshore team has a different level of expertise and skill set. Consider this fact before allocating any task. When choosing a project manager, make sure that the person knows how to prioritize work and delegate the tasks correctly. They must also be able to make quick decisions if there are any changes in the schedule. A project manager should know how to address any exigencies. For instance: If an email is deployed to the wrong segment, the project manager should know what to do in the best interest of the business. They must be able to send a sorry email as soon as possible for effective damage control. Having a proactive offshore professional will automatically ensure seamless communication.
Consistency in the processes, staying organized, and using the right communication tools are the key drivers to streamline the communication with offshore teams. Of course, communication can get a bit problematic, but ensuring clarity in the instructions and keeping things straightforward means half the battle won. The rest, your skilled offshore professionals will manage!