Building company culture with your offshore workers

Angela McDonald • 10/07/2016

An important part of building a successful remote team is to include them in your company culture. You want your overseas workers to feel part of your company, to involve them and help them become invested in your business. That way you can get the best out of your staff, reduce turnover, and have a happier workforce in general.

 

Ensure there are no barriers between your teams

Sometimes companies find themselves in the position of being “customers” of their offshore team. When outsourcing projects make sure you emphasise the collaborative nature of the work. Try not to place your local team as the ones who judge the quality of the work that your remote team has done, or you may find they don’t interact with your local team, rather seeing them as clients to be kept happy – and kept at a distance.

 

Treat your offshore employees like you do your local ones

It seems simple, but can be tricky. You see your local employees every day, so you share gossip and news. When you’re communicating with your remote team, it tends to be all about work. Go beyond that. Find out about your overseas employees lives like you would your local team – their interests outside work, their families, where they’re from. Try to share your own day-to-day news (where it is professionally appropriate of course) and ask about theirs.

 

Make connections between employees

This works in two ways – formal and informal. Formally you might set up mentoring relationships, allowing for professional development and to forge closer links between your two teams. Informal connections are just as important. Perhaps you find that one of your offshore staff loves to cook, and so does one of your local employees. Or that a couple of your employees follow the NBA. In a single office, watercooler talk would quickly reveal these shared interests. With two offices, you need to actively make the connection – introduce your staff to one another and mention what they have in common.

 

Include your offshore team in activities

Obviously, if you’re going on a team trip you won’t be able to bring your outsource office along. But plenty of offices engage in team-building activities which can be extended to involve your offshore staff. If your office organises a loud shirt day, for instance, tell your offshore team so they can wear loud shirts too. Take pictures to send and ask your staff to send you photos as well. If your office has a newsletter or a secret Facebook group, make sure the images from the Philippines are included alongside ones from your local team. If your business has a social club, remind them to include your Filipino staff where they can, or even ask for someone in the Philippines to be part of it.

 

Remember it’s not just one-way

Along with teaching your Filipino staff about your culture, take the time to learn some of the culture of the Philippines. If your office has events or activities around local holidays, do the same for some Filipino ones. Ask your offshore staff for their input on fun things for both your offices to do. For instance, participate in a language swap – ask your offshore staff for Filipino words and their meanings, and get your team to use them in sentences with you, or with your remote team. You could teach your remote team some local slang in return.

 

It can feel hard to include an offshore team in your company culture, especially when your business has always previously been in a single location. But by making an effort the distance can be overcome, rewarding you with a more cohesive team that works better together. Deployed can help you bring your overseas employees onboard into your company culture, and assist you to adjust your culture to involve offshore staff.