Keys to successful outsourcing and engaging remote teams

Angela McDonald • 20/07/2016

The keys to successful outsourcing are many and varied, but there is one which plenty of experts pinpoint as the most vital. Fortunately, that factor is not difficult to implement, yet many businesses fail to do it.

You need to treat your offshore employees like people.

They are not a resource, a tool, or a material. They are people. When you treat your offshore employees like people, in the same way you relate to your local staff, you are far more likely to succeed than if you view your staff as a facility which provides services for a fee.

Be mindful of the value that your offshore employees bring to your company

Remember this is the reason you hired them, because they offer something of value to your business. Your business may have previously had gaps in skills or knowledge which have now been filled by your new remote employee or team. Perhaps taking on more remote staff increased your capacity to grow your company exponentially. Whatever operating a remote team has assisted you in achieving for your company, remember that their assistance is valuable, and that’s why you brought them on.

Relate what they do to the success of your company

Giving your offshore employees information about the goals and objectives for your company helps motivate them and ties their performance to your company’s success. Essentially, make them part of the business with an understanding of how performing well at their role benefits the company overall – which in turn benefits them.

Invest in your remote employees

Showing you value what an employee brings to your company often takes the form of providing avenues for them to improve and broaden their skills. This upskilling and training shouldn’t stop at your local office. Provide training for your offshore employees as well. This doesn’t need to be formal learning (though it can be). Sharing knowledge and informal training is just as important. You should regularly provide your offshore employees with feedback on their work and engage with them to develop performance plans and targets. This allows you to measure all of your employees and work through areas of development and promotion.

Respect offshore staff as workers

Just because your employee is overseas, and may be remunerated differently, doesn’t mean their time is not equally as valuable as that of your local staff. Try not to waste their time, and if it happens inadvertently, apologise and take steps to prevent the situation from reoccurring. Just like your local employees, your remote staff have family and other parts of their lives outside the office. Endeavour to maintain a healthy work-life balance for all your staff, including those offshore. If you need to call in your remote staff on a weekend, or if getting a project done means staying late; recognise that with overtime pay, time in lieu, or just by saying thanks for their hard work.
Treat requests for time off or bereavement leave as you would if the same request came from any of your local team members.

Respect your offshore staff as people and go the extra mile to get to know them

Make an effort to understand Filipino culture and working style. Learn about the history of the Philippines and get to know a bit more about the country. Ask your employees about current events and show that you’re interested in where they’re from.
Even more importantly, get to know your employees. Ask about home towns, interests, friends and families. Make a concerted effort to show you are interested in your employees beyond just what they do for your business.

Remunerate your offshore workers fairly

Outsourcing is seen as a cost-saving exercise, and that is one aspect of the process. But paying the absolute minimum possible doesn’t send the signal that you value an employee’s contributions, experience, or skills. Paying a fair wage means an employee is able to care for their family, save for the future, or splash out on occasional luxuries. And it shows you care about your employee’s wellbeing outside the workplace and value their contributions within it.

 

Too many outsourcing enterprises fail because companies don’t treat the employees they outsource work to as people. Achieving low turnover, high productivity, and great quality work should be the goal of any business-owner looking at outsourcing. Realising that goal requires you to value the contributions of your offshore staff just as much as local ones. By having one team with one goal you get one great result – even if that one team is in two places.