Different time zones.
We get it.
Managing an offshore team can be a pain but it isn’t as difficult as the world seems to make of it.
In fact, if you manage it well, an offshore team can lighten the load on your onshore team, handle more work and deliver results faster.
In other words, your offshore team can supercharge your agency’s growth, increase your clientele and get more revenue.
In this guide, we’ll dive into the advantages and challenges of managing an offshore team and also share some tried-and-tested best practices to help you manage them like a pro.
What is an offshore team?
Picture this: Your very own team of talented employees, working from a different country and time zone but fully aligned with your agency’s goals. That’s an offshore team for you!
Offshore teams are created to access highly skilled talent, save costs and scale agencies to new heights. It is a secret weapon used by larger agencies around the world to scale their business.
For instance, many agency owners hire a team of skilled creative and marketing professionals in countries like India and the Philippines and save a significant amount of money without compromising on talent.
In essence, your agency is hiring the same level of talent but at lower costs.
Advantages of an offshore team
An offshore team brings numerous benefits to your agency. Here are the top advantages you’ll gain by having an offshore team:
Reduced costs for your agency
Offshore teams are typically based in developing countries like India or the Philippines where salaries are lower despite the quality of talent remaining the same.
So you can increase your workforce while saving on salary costs. It’s a win-win situation!
The huge difference in pay between marketing talents in USA and India can quickly add up, especially for agency owners that are looking to hire a team of experts.In such a scenario, you can scale your agency by hiring specialised experts at lower costs, increase your team’s output and deliver more results for your clients.
Access to a larger pool of talent with specialized skills
Sometimes, your local talent pool may not have the specific skills you need or it may be challenging to hire them within your budget.
Having an offshore team in a country known for its expertise in certain areas allows you to tap into a diverse range of specialized skills that may not be readily available locally.
For example, digital marketing is a booming industry in India with a value of $4.5 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR OF 32.1% in the next five years.
As such, you’ll find many Indian talents well-versed in various aspects of digital marketing like video editing, social media marketing, SEO, etc.
While you can get these talents in the USA, it’ll be difficult for you to hire them, especially if you plan to build a team around them with a limited budget, as they’ll be much costlier than the Indian talents.
Offshore teams from Asian countries like India or the Philippines bring a variety of skills and experiences based on their respective backgrounds.
This diversity of perspectives can be incredibly valuable when crafting unique messages and campaigns for your clients.
It’s like having a melting pot of fresh new ideas to fuel your projects.
The overall decision-making is improved which leads to better results and more profit for your agency.
Expanded business hours and customer support
With an offshore team working in a different time zone, you can extend your business hours and offer 24/7 customer support.
It is especially beneficial for agencies serving B2B SaaS clients with a global presence.
Customers love knowing they can reach your client’s brand whenever they need assistance.
This means enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty, giving your agency a competitive edge globally and potentially increasing your market share.
Create localised campaigns set up for your clients
If you have clients who need localized campaigns targeted at specific regions, having an offshore team can work wonders.
They can create campaigns that speak directly to the local audience, considering their behaviours, tastes and culture.
This helps your clients attract attention, generate leads, and increase market share in those regions.
Ability to scale up your team quickly
When your agency faces a surge in workload and needs more employees, setting up an offshore team allows you to promptly hire remote employees to meet the increased demands.
Developing countries like India and the Philippines provide a large pool of talented individuals at a lower cost, making it easier to scale up your team as needed.
Additionally, there are cross-border recruitment platforms like InCommon that help you with sourcing, vetting, and hiring the right talent according to your agency’s demands.
They also help you with local compliances, payroll, and HR support on the ground making it easier for you to operate your agency from India without wasting your time and energy.
Hence, having an offshore team gives your agency the additional flexibility to quickly hire talents to cater to the increasing work demands.
Key challenges of managing offshore teams
While managing an offshore team brings great advantages, there are also some key challenges you may encounter. Let’s take a look at them:
When you have your team working in the office, it’s easy to keep an eye on their progress, interact face-to-face, and measure productivity.
However, managing an offshore team presents a different scenario.
They’re thousands of miles away, and working remotely can be more distracting than in a focused office environment.
This lack of visibility may lead to issues with trust, empathy, and accountability from your offshore team.
Building a strong bond with your offshore team can be more challenging when they’re in a different location.
Casual conversations, spontaneous office interactions, and getting to know each other become harder to achieve.
Considering that your offshore team members work alone from their respective homes, this may result in lower morale and productivity.
It could potentially impact the working relationship between your onshore and offshore teams.
Communication becomes a major challenge when working with offshore teams in different countries.
While you can rely on text messages and emails, the impact is not the same as talking to someone face-to-face.
Expressing feelings and emotions clearly may be more difficult, and different communication styles and accents can add an extra layer of complexity to understanding each other well.
Sharing sensitive client information with an offshore team raises concerns about data security.
You might question whether you can trust your offshore team members with the data you provide them.
Moreover, if your agency doesn’t prioritize strong passwords or if your offshore team members lack robust antivirus protection on their laptops, there’s a risk of data breaches that could harm your client’s reputation.
Managing offshore teams from countries like India or the Philippines, where family, religion, and culture hold significant importance, can be challenging.
Work ethics and approaches to a normal working day may differ, leading to misunderstandings and confusion within your offshore team.
These cultural differences can impact how your offshore team works and coordinates with your onshore team.
Time zone differences
Scheduling meetings can become a headache when there’s a major time zone difference between your onshore and offshore teams.
Real-time communication takes a hit, especially when you have offshore teams spread across multiple time zones.
Finding a common time when everyone is available can be quite a challenge.
Expectations and boundaries
Without a clear offshore team policy that outlines how remote team members are expected to work, they may struggle to meet your expectations.
Lack of regular updates on the work that needs to be done, when to log in, and how flexible they can be with work timings can leave them feeling confused.
This confusion may result in working overtime and ultimately affect their productivity.
Providing training to your onshore team within an office setting is a breeze, but it becomes more difficult when it comes to your offshore team situated far away.
Moreover, your managers can easily mentor and course-correct your onshore team as they have face-to-face interactions in real-time.
Unfortunately, this luxury is not readily available when managing an offshore team.
Best practices for managing offshore resources
Managing an offshore team may be challenging but if you adopt the following best practices, you can do wonders for your agency:
Hire for more than just skills
When building your offshore team, it’s not just about finding skilled talent. You also need to assess their suitability for remote work.
Look for soft skills like communication, teamwork, adaptability, and time management. These qualities will ensure smooth collaboration despite the distance and help you trust them with your agency’s work.
As an experiment, you could even hire talent on a contract or per-project basis initially to evaluate their performance before making a full-time commitment.
However, hiring the right team members takes time and energy.
To help you hire the right offshore team for your agency without any stress, you can build a team with InCommon.
As a cross-border recruitment platform based in India, InCommon helps you source, vet, and hire remote talents according to your needs.
You can build a fully remote team at a 40% lesser cost with InCommon and avail of the following benefits:
- InCommon sources from its existing pool of pre-vetted creative and marketing talents so you don’t have to.
- Accelerate your hiring cycle by shortlisting 3 talents in 3 days as per your needs.
- Ensure smooth delivery of your work with talents that are well-versed in English.
- End-to-end compliance (EOR) and payroll management
- Talent replacement guarantee
Hire for one skill rather than many
Sometimes agency owners tend to hire generalists instead of specialists for their offshore team in an effort to deliver more work at a lower cost.
However, this approach can lead to compromised quality and an overload of tasks for your offshore team.
For example, many agency owners hire content writers and expect them to work on social media captions, blog posts, landing pages, email marketing, etc.
Instead, focus on hiring specialists who excel in one specific area. It will ensure higher-quality output and improved productivity.
Have overlapped working hours
To facilitate real-time interaction between your onshore and offshore teams, establish a daily 1-2 hour period when both teams can connect.
This allows for seamless communication and ensures the latest project updates are shared.
Coordinate work timings accordingly to accommodate this overlap.
If not everyone can join the call, assign representatives from each team to relay updates on a daily basis.
Give access to the right tools and equipment
For effective integration and collaboration, provide your offshore team with access to online tools and software that enhance time management, productivity, and communication.
Project management tools like Asana, ClickUp, or Trello can help with task assignments, progress tracking, and deadlines.
Communication tools like Zoom and Slack enable real-time video and chat interactions.
Additionally, consider providing an allowance for setting up a distraction-free workstation at home.
Fair Payment Terms
Remember that just because you’re hiring from a country with lower costs doesn’t mean you should underpay your offshore team.
Paying them well, at least as per the latest market rates, ensures their motivation and dedication to your agency’s work.
It also attracts top talent who may otherwise overlook opportunities with lower compensation.
Having a leader for your offshore team is crucial for providing guidance, clarity, and cultural understanding.
Look for someone with experience in leading teams from the same country as your offshore team.
They can bridge the gap, foster harmony between teams, and serve as the face of the offshore team within your agency.
Reward people that go above and beyond
Recognize and appreciate the efforts of your offshore team members who consistently deliver results for your clients.
Showing appreciation boosts morale and maintains the quality of their work.
Some of the ways in which you can show appreciation are:
- Sending a gift voucher
- Giving promotions to team members
- Giving shoutouts to employees on your team’s Slack channel
Have systems and processes in place
Establishing defined systems and processes is essential, especially for offshore teams working remotely.
These frameworks help guide your offshore team toward achieving your agency’s goals in a systematic and predictable manner.
The following are some questions you can ask yourself to define the same:
- What should be the work timings of your offshore teams?
- What tools should they use in their day-to-day work?
- Have you defined a template to be followed for all the tools?
- When should the daily, weekly, or monthly meetings be held?
- What are the duties and responsibilities of each team member?
Encourage social interaction
Not being able to see your offshore team face-to-face can be challenging, so make special efforts to connect with them on a personal level.
Some of the things you can do include:
- Use Slack connectivity tools like Donut to randomly pair two team members for a 15-minute virtual coffee session.
- Celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries together via Zoom video calls.
- Have water cooler discussions on Donut to spark a debate on any topic and have a lively engagement with your team members.
- Celebrate team wins and achievements over Slack/Zoom.
- Organize a trip to meet your offshore team in person once every year
Create a strong team culture
When your teams are spread across different locations, building a strong team culture becomes essential.
You want everyone to work together towards your agency’s goals, vision, and mission while sharing the same values.
Here are some best practices to instill your agency’s culture within your offshore team:
- Make sure to include your core values in your employees’ performance reviews, so they align their efforts accordingly.
- Assess candidates for their fit with your agency’s values during the hiring process to ensure a perfect match.
- Clearly state your agency’s culture on your website, social media platforms, and during monthly team meetings.
- Don’t hesitate to let go of clients or employees who don’t align with your agency’s culture. It’s all about finding the right fit!
Celebrate cultural diversity
Having an offshore team often means embracing cultural diversity since they’re based in a different country.
The key is to understand and appreciate their culture while making your onshore team aware of it too.
This mutual respect and understanding foster closer connections, trust, and empathy.
Here are some steps you can take to celebrate cultural diversity:
- Conduct cultural awareness sessions for both your onshore and offshore teams, allowing everyone to learn and appreciate each other’s customs.
- Spice up your team meetings by sharing fun facts about the festivities and traditions of both teams.
- Integrate cultural diversity into your team’s overall culture and values, making it an essential part of your agency’s identity.
- Encourage regular interactions between employees from both teams, fostering collaboration and camaraderie.
- Ensure equal opportunities for growth, training, and promotions for team members from both sides.
- Create an open and inclusive environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, problems, and feedback.
- Share stories and experiences on social media, showcasing how your employees embrace and celebrate cultural diversity.
- Always make an effort to facilitate cross-cultural understanding and appreciation among both teams.
To wrap it up, an offshore team can be a game-changer for scaling your agency and serving more clients.
But remember, it’s important to be aware of the challenges and implement best practices for effective management.
Alternatively, if you want to save time and money and build an offshore team for your agency, you can hire us. As a cross-border hiring platform, we help you build a fully remote team at a 40% lesser salary cost.