6 Tips for Communicating with Offshore Staff

Angela McDonald • 17/07/2016

6 Tips for Communicating with Offshore Staff

When you’re outsourcing, communicating with offshore staff is a vital part of the endeavour. Poor communication is a major factor in the breakdown of outsourcing relationships, and it’s something which is easy to solve if you follow a few steps to institute effective communications between you and your remote staff.

1. Establish the right communication channels

When you pick your communication channels, make sure they are going to suit your needs, and the needs of your remote staff. There’s no point in sending out messages on the company intranet if no one uses it, for example.
The channel needs to suit the message too – for discussions, obviously video or phone calls are best. For quick messages and watercooler-type chat, using team instant messaging would be ideal. Different communication channels will suit different people, so it’s important to establish more than one channel to communicate with your remote workers over.

2. Communicate regularly

Once you have your communication channels established, it is important that you use them regularly. If your remote employee knows they will come to work and there will be an update from you in their email inbox every day, then they’ll be sure to check daily. In the same vein, having regular Skype calls means that your remote employees aren’t at risk of being forgotten, or of being left to their own devices too often.

3. Communicate as a team

As a company grows, and as projects get more involved, the risk of two people giving contradictory messages increases. This is a problem which is not exclusive to outsourcing, but it can be exacerbated by distance. A remote employee may not know who is closest to the project, or whether instructions from someone more senior but with less involvement should be prioritised. Your remote staff should be receiving the same information from managers and employees.

4. Be interactive

Communication shouldn’t be just one way. You should receive emails, messages, and updates from your remote team. To facilitate questions, every email should be signed by a specific person. Don’t regard seeking clarification as inherently negative either – while constant questions may indicate the employee is not able to do the job, asking a quick query to make sure they have interpreted the message correctly should be encouraged. Better for them to ask, than carry out a task incorrectly.
When onboarding your offshore employee, designating a specific local staff member as their point of contact is a good way to ensure they don’t sit on questions which could be easily answered.

5. Be mindful of cultural differences

Filippinos may have a different manner of communication than your culture. You may find that you need to adjust your interaction style to avoid being seen as rude or aggressive. Similarly, understand that your Filipino staff aren’t being evasive or cagey when they talk with you – being oblique shows politeness and deference.
And it’s a tiny thing which can create big disruptions – gendered names aren’t all the same across cultures. Pronoun slip-ups should be corrected gently, rather than taken as an insult.

6. Get to know your remote team personally

This is one of the most important elements in effectively running and supporting your remote team. Just as it pays dividends to get to know your local team, your remote staff are no different. Beyond just professional discussions, you should take the time to find out about their families, hobbies, and interests. Taking the time to talk to your remote staff and becoming acquainted with their lives greatly improves overall communication and relations. By doing so, you make them feel like part of your overall team and they will feel valued.

 

By keeping your communication as regular with your remote staff as you do your local staff, you can avoid many of the problems which can crop up when you outsource. Working with Deployed, we can help you set up your communications to be effective for everyone involved.