Working with offshore staff comes with its own set of challenges—one of which is managing productivity. It’s important to keep your goals aligned with your offshore team to ensure that your operations run smoothly, and your offshore team delivers on your business requirements consistently.
In a study by research firm Gartner that looks at improving remote work effectiveness, they identified the top human and top technical problems that prevent remote staff from being effective. Today we’ll look at those challenges and discuss how we can improve productivity by addressing them head on.
Human challenges: Communication, leadership and organisation matter
The Gartner study identified the top three challenges preventing workplace effectiveness:
- Lack of clarity on decisions, commitments, and next steps
- Too many meetings
- Low engagement from remote staff
Efficient communication between your onshore team and your offshore staff matters. Three of the five items in the chart above can be solved with clear, efficient and timely communication between your business leaders and your offshore team.
Here are some ways you can improve your workplace efficiency:
Set an agenda. Setting up an agenda before talking to your team gives your conversations structure and direction—and helps you save time.
Schedule meetings. Schedule meetings in advance and schedule them in reasonable chunks of time. Include the agenda in your invite—this allows your remote staff to prepare any documents, reports and other items you might need to discuss.
Clarify the roles of each staff member. Ensure your expectations and requirements are clear. This will help your offshore team determine what to prioritise and focus their time and energy on. It will also help increase your staff’s involvement in conversations.
Establish a tracking system for tasks. This could be a manual tracker, or you could use a software tool —the important thing is to have a way for you and your remote team to check active and upcoming tasks. Tools such as Trello, Asana, or MS Teams are commonly used for tracking, but find the tool that works best for your organisation and your remote staff.
Include the decision-makers whenever applicable. One of the biggest hindrances to productivity is waiting for approvals from decision-makers. In all communications, whether it’s during meetings, in chats or email exchanges, include the relevant decision-makers in the thread so you can communicate feedback quickly and efficiently.
Technical challenges: Technology is just the tip of the iceberg
When the study looked at technical problems, one thing was clear: the way technology is utilised is just as important as the availability of tools and technology itself.
Technology is important in offshore outsourcing because the software and tools that your remote staff use can either facilitate or impede their productivity. Your offshore staff should have the right technology and resources. It’s also important to know how to maximise its features and troubleshoot whenever necessary to keep collaborations smooth between your onshore and offshore teams. Based on the study, here’s what you can do:
Establish remote work requirements. Offshore teams located in an office won’t have much of a problem maintaining a conducive work environment. However, given pandemic lockdown guidelines you might find your offshore staff working remotely, which can come with greater productivity challenges. So, it’s important to outline physical requirements in your remote work policy and communicate it with all employees who are expected to work on a remote basis.
Use technology that helps improve remote experiences. One of the advantages of working with an offshore outsource provider is that you don’t have to worry about the hardware—in our case, we provide the latest business-grade Dell computers, headsets and HD web cams to your offshore staff. What you can do is choose easy-to-use collaborative software that allow members of your team to access, share and work on files together; that reduce touchpoints; and that are easy to troubleshoot on their own. Cloud systems like MS Teams, for example, allow you to share files with your team, turn chats into task cards that you can assign and track, and communicate with different members of your offshore team—all in one platform.
Build a culture of collaboration. As mentioned, technology is only the beginning—you need to establish a culture of collaboration with your offshore team. Build habits that promote collaboration, such as running one-on-one check-ins with each of your staff and opening communication lines with your offshore staff. You could also organise outside of work such as games that are fun but that promote teamwork and cooperation between your offshore and onshore staff and among your offshore staff.
We’re happy to discuss how to optimise an offshore outsourced team setup based on your business. Book a free consultation with us today and let’s talk about your remote staffing needs.