Tips on managing an onsite and an offshore team
For companies all over the world, the past year has been a rollercoaster. From lockdowns, to work from home mandates, there’s been a lot of changes to the way we work. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!
As things were shaken up, businesses began exploring new ways to structure their teams. For some, this might include more full-time remote workers or even a combination hybrid office. Another option is to bring in an off-shore team to accompany your in-house staff.
But as with all things new, at the beginning of implementation, there might be a few challenges you’ll encounter. However, because all these options also bring with them some great long-term benefits, there’s a lot of incentive to consider restructuring your team.
This article will give you a few tips on tackling the challenges associated with managing a dispersed team when half are located in the same office and the other half are on the other side of the world. These are 4 sure-fire strategies to get maximum benefits with fewer headaches.
Implement consistent communication channels
No matter the kind of team structure you have, communication is key. But when you’re working with both in-office and dispersed teams, it’s especially important to not only communicate but ensure that you’re communicating in a consistent way that includes everyone.
It’s an unfortunate side effect of this structure, but your offshore team will not be privy to announcements made in the office. Nor will they be able to participate in in-person bonding activities like coffee breaks and office lunches where work topics will inevitably arise.
Even if you schedule regular meetings with all parties, there very often may be a disconnect for those phoning in from offsite. Technological interruptions and communication lag times are part and parcel of virtual meetings. So it’s best not only to solely rely on those for communication.
Instead, pick a few communication channels and stick to them. Live group chats for workplace chatter. One-on-one conference meetings for regular check-ins. Dedicated Slack channels for official announcements. Devise your own system for keeping everyone in the loop, just remember to keep it consistent. Not only will this keep your team informed. But it will save you precious time from needing to communicate the same info more than once.
Make project goals known to all
Projects are a bit like a relay race. Tasks are handed off from one person to the next until you can successfully cross the finish line to project completion. And just like a race, projects work best when you can see the end in sight. Because no one can keep running forever.
Even if a specific team won’t be the one taking your project over the finish line, it’s still best to clue them in as to the overall project outcome. That way they can see what it is they are working towards. And share in the elation when reaching certain project goals.
Both onsite and offsite teams need to be tuned to the project’s vision. And it’s best to lay that out in the beginning stages of the project. Discuss what the endpoint looks like. As well as expectations for each milestone. Project management systems such as Gantt charts or Kanban boards can help communicate this information continuously throughout the entire project process. Plus, they make it easy to see how each component of the project works together.
This kind of transparency helps build trust. And keeps everyone motivated. Because even if individuals’ tasks are different they know that it all leads to the same place.
Create a strong corporate culture
Unfortunately “out of sight out of mind” tends to apply to dispersed teams. A 2017 survey showed that remote workers more often feel left out than their onsite counterparts. These kinds of negative feelings can seep into work relationships, drain trust, and zap productivity.
That’s why it’s important to acknowledge that your offshore team is also your partner. They are there to help you get your work done. And treating them as equal will help you do just that.
Build relationships with your offshore team members. Try to remember their birthdays and acknowledge them for a job well done. Just as you would do your in-office staff.
Although it might seem harder to connect virtually, there’s plenty of suggestions around the web on ways to build rapport with your dispersed teams. It’s amazing how something as small as sharing a cup of coffee on Google hangouts or even just asking about your team members’ weekends can go a long way in creating a “virtual watercooler.” Which in turn can lead to a boost in engagement, drive team productivity, and create a culture that’s not hampered by distance.
Keep your team connected
Even if your offshore team and office headquarters are located on opposite sides of the globe, there are ways to stay connected. Here are a few things to consider.
- Find overlapping work hours – Different time zones can kill collaboration and eat uptime. So find a way to create schedules where your both onsite and offsite teams can do at least some live communication. This may mean allowing more flexible schedules and non-traditional working hours.
- Use language everyone can understand – even if your offshore team is great at your native language, there’s bound to be some misunderstandings. Especially if they can’t benefit from body language and social cues that come across better in-person. Keeping your language simple and understandable can ensure that everyone is aware of what needs to be done.
- Utilize tools everyone can access – Tech is great for keeping everyone in the loop, but only if it’s accessible for people to use. Make sure that the tools you need on a daily basis are available for the whole team. Check permissions and licenses before equipping your workplace toolbox.
When you’re working with a mix of onsite and offsite workers, there may be a few challenges. But many of these are easily solvable and pale in comparison to the benefits these team structures can provide. Following these tips and being receptive to your team’s issues and concerns will go a long way in creating a great work environment. Wherever your team members are located.