How can we be ready for the permanent transition to remote teams?

For better or for worse, the Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses to pivot quickly last year. These rapid transformations also provided a lot of business leaders with insights into the feasibility and productivity of remote teams. We covered these insights in our blog published last month about how remote teams help champion growth. From our explorations last month, it is very clear that in addition to saving costs and working longer hours, offshore managed services also bring strong back-end support to the table – making it possible for management to redistribute funds to more essential sectors. In fact, our observations on the ground were corroborated by an article by Airtasker “Surprisingly, remote staff worked 1.4 more days every month or 16.8 more days every year on average than those who worked in an office.[3]”

So, once we realized this, we went about reaching out to different clients and colleagues across the pond to see if there were any process improvements we could do to help similar clients adopt our hybrid offshore model smoothly. Following several conversations with business leaders in our network, we concluded that for those dipping their feet into offshoring services for the first time, hiring can be a long process that involves steep learning curves on both ends. However, if there is flexibility, openness and a positive approach on both sides, remote teams can actually help businesses catapult their existing resources to a whole new level of productivity and profitability.

If you are new to the world of offshoring services, you may have doubts about whether your money will be put to good use. Not only is international labor cost-effective on a per head basis, but you may also end up saving on additional costs like social security, federal, medical and state employment taxes, depending on where you live. In fact, a well-qualified and focused remote team contributes much greater productivity per employee with their out-of-hours services. If you take the time at the beginning of the professional relationship to on-board the offshore team as part of your own business ecosystem, you can effectively tap into the true power of your remote transition.

Transitioning to remotely managed services

Just like with any other industry, standardization and evidence-based practice can help both onshore and offshore managers collaborate for greater impact. While the instinctive response focuses on improving efficiency with supervision, strict reporting or even rigorous ongoing training, evidence suggests that there are simpler ways to achieve that seamless interface between your onshore and offshore teams – without investing so much valuable time into ensuring productivity. At this point, you really have to stop and ask yourself, “What collaborative qualities do I require in a remote team?” Once you have the answer to that question, you will be better positioned to hire that remote team and harness that power towards your business goals without breaking the bank or driving yourself and your stakeholders crazy.

Remote team collaborative qualities

Clearly, timing and readiness are of the essence when it comes to hiring the right remote managed services provider for your needs. Did you know that premature hiring may lead to hiccups in your operations?

Christopher Aborqui of Light the Way Bookkeeping believes that as businesses grow, owners inevitably think about expanding. Business may be good now, but expanding too soon can leave your business in a lurch. By adopting a remote work model, you save on the amount of space and equipment the business needs to operate so that your resources for coping are much greater than the challenges ahead of you. With offshore teams, there is no extra rental cost, no desks, computers or laptops to purchase. No additional phone lines to install or office supplies to stock up on[2].

premature hiring may lead to hiccups in your operations

We agree with Aborqui – expanding too soon can lead to significant hiccups if you haven’t done your homework. Especially in the current economy, where expansion can seem like a pipe dream. Instead, business owners, managers and even C-level executives must first have a solid infrastructure in place to support them during the transition to our onshore-offshore hybrid work model. Experienced managed service providers not only offer skilled labour but also freedom from infrastructure and operational hassles such as electricity bills, rent, training costs among other things. An increasing number of businesses of various sizes are coming to the same conclusion and relying more on remote support to take care of specialized jobs.

Hopping on to the offshore services bandwagon

One surprising result of the transition to remote work is that the offshore team adaption trend isn’t just limited to large corporations. According to a statistic by Owl Labs, small to medium companies are twice as likely to hire full-time remote support[4]. However, just because everyone is jumping on the bandwagon doesn’t mean that an offshore team is a magic one-size-fits-all solution for all operational woes. When we on-board new clients for our managed services, we follow a standard procedure to ensure smooth adoption and maintain quality of service across the board.

Before hiring an offshore team

Most clients that come through our virtual doors have a rough idea of what they need. During the early consultation calls, we usually sit down with the client one-on-one and work through the following questions to help them pin down their exact needs.

  1. Are there actionable steps the remote team can take right now to boost your business?
  2. Do you think it is possible for a remote team to add more value to your services?
  3. What areas of opportunity are you passing up due to tedious operational red tape?
  4. Where will you divert the time and resources that you save after hiring a remote team?
  5. Can your potential vendor provide the same or better quality work at a lower cost?
  6. Will your potential vendor help protect your privacy and maintain confidentiality?

Onboarding an offshore team

The second step in the transition towards offshore teams is the on-boarding process. This process sets the tone for your working relationship and is a fantastic opportunity to anticipate and address any gaps for a successful working relationship. At this stage, the following questions can offer clear insight into challenges as well as opportunities that lay ahead in your onshore-offshore collaboration.

  1. Are there any gaps in operational expectations and how can we bridge them?
  2. Where can I reallocate my freed-up resources for optimum growth?
  3. What measures can we take to problem-solve with open, honest communication?
  4. What systems should we consider to enhance collaboration and productivity?

Assessing your internal structure

Now, you want to effectively bridge any gaps identified in the previous stage and ensure uninterrupted services during your remote transition, there may also be some internal reshuffling you may have to undertake. Hiring an offshore team does not necessarily mean cutting local staff. In fact, reallocating resources to growth focused areas is a great way to retain good talent within the organization while streamlining your teams. Here are some questions that can help you reorganize for better collaboration.

  1. Is there a way to infuse our culture into the remote team structure?
  2. How can we help on-board the remote team to our business needs?
  3. What measures can we take to address mistakes with a growth mindset?
  4. Is there a clear plan in place in case we need to ramp up the services?
  5. What collaborative measures can we take to cope with any unexpected changes?
  6. How does this offshore partnership strengthen our talent brand in the long run?

Building a virtual work culture

If you are reading this, you are likely already toying with the idea of hiring a remote team. While it can be challenging to maintain a workforce that is several miles away, we have seen successful virtual partnerships flourish with scores of clients over the past decade. Regular engagement with your virtual employees is worth its weight in gold when it comes to aligning your offshore team with your corporate mission, values and culture.

Opportunities for socialization also have the added benefit of making employees stick around longer because they feel like they belong. Virtual coffee talks, work from home competitions, happy hours or game nights are not just vanity HR activities – they are critical to making your team function as a single unit despite being thousands of miles apart geographically.

While they may not be about work, these casual conversations enhance relationships between your on-shore and offshore team members. When your remote team is in another time-zone, it may not be possible to introduce everyone in person, but if people already have a rapport with people they are calling on a remote call, it makes service delivery painless, productive and highly impactful. Here are some things you can implement in order to improve communication between your team members.

1. Virtual Meetings

Start your week with a happy motivating virtual meeting. This kick starts the week on a positive note and the team gets comfortable working with each other more easily. Great opportunity to set or reset expectations and define deliverables for the week.

2. Stay in Contact

Staying in contact with your remote teams and knowing everything they are doing can be challenging but is also necessary. Having tools that let you stay in contact with your team is fantastic, but don’t let your tools hinder the work that needs to get done.

3. Video Call

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Offer your people the opportunity for professional bonding and networking with regular video calls. People feel connected at a personal level when they put a face to the name.

4. Regular Updates

Whether you’re leading a remote team or hearing from your remote coworkers, it’s important to check in regularly. Regular communication has been shown to increase job satisfaction, reduce stress and improve the overall health of a team. Let them know what’s going on and keep everyone in the loop.

Running a successful hybrid onshore-offshore team requires that you keep a keen ear to the ground. At Technomine, we have applied the above ideas to every department ranging from Healthcare, IT, Teachers Recruitment, Accounting, Video Surveillance, Digital Marketing to Records Retrieval. However, there are two key areas where we have found the approach mentioned above particularly effective: Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) and Records Retrieval (RR) Let’s take a brief look at how we help each of these businesses integrate the above process for a smooth transition to managed offshore services.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing

An offshore recruitment team can help recruiting agencies to hire the right candidate at the right time and in the right pay range. Before selecting the right offshore support team, there are a few insider tips that can help you navigate to get the best value for money.

First, getting an RPO support team will generate a large number of applicants. Keep in mind that depending on the type of relationship you form, the RPO team will essentially be the face of your business when it comes to candidates and potential talent. Candidates will make the first impression based on how the RPO agents interact with them.

Second, after the onboarding stage, having regular contact with the RPO will allow you to update your requirements in real-time for better hiring accuracy. When communication goes both ways, you will also be able to assess your existing structure to accommodate the new changes quickly.

Third, in order to build a culture of mutual understanding, we usually sit down with the client to see what actionable steps the remote team can take right now to boost the clients’ business right off the bat. This helps us to target the problem area to ensure better results. Following these steps helps us maintain a smooth transition to helping recruitment agencies offload functions like CV sourcing, CV cleaning, Registering candidates, Data migration, Salary structuring, Payroll processing, Client query managements.

Records Retrieval

Law firms, medical firms and insurance companies often come to us for support in helping them to recover a large bulk of records within a short period of time. The whole process can be complicated.

At the time of onboarding, the law firm and the healthcare clients need to know if their offshore records retrieval agency will be able to protect their privacy and confidentiality.

Once you have selected a records retrieval service provider, you can onboard the team for better communication via applications like Skype, Zoom or Google video. Setting up regular follow up structures at this stage will help you retrieve records faster, deliver better validation of order entry and stay updated on the accuracy of records retrieval performance of the team at all times.

When it comes to calibrating your internal structure to include your offshore records retrieval team, having a regular team call with the team makes it easier for your records retrieval agents to meet your needs in the long run.

While trying to build a culture of collaboration for the teams, we noticed that as the teams and clients interacted with each other, the accuracy of records retrieval and faster turnaround of deliverables seemed to improve over a period of time. As the team gets well-versed with the jargons and the technical terms used by clients which build a better rapport, this process allows us to transition smoothly.

So, was it worth all that effort?

While in rare cases, there can be such a thing as over-communication (as you can see by the length of this blog), we believe it is necessary for businesses to acknowledge the role of clear communication in mitigating the exigence of onboarding offshore teams.

In our conversations with industry leaders and reviewing trends, one recurring theme was that of following due process to allow for a smooth transition towards the hybrid onshore-offshore model. Leading companies are shifting to remote teams, but this transition will only be successful if you can foster the right collaborative culture. It does not matter if your teams are spread out across the globe, having an integrated remote team will lead to more productive results.

According to Gartner[1], collaborative platforms can play a leading role in shaping the success of a remote work environment. A major insight we gained from researching for this blog was that aside from thorough needs analysis and appropriate training, collaboration and communication are key indicators of a successful remote partnership.

If you are ready to implement some of these techniques and step up your game by hiring a remote team of your own, get in touch with us today!

 

References:

  1. Cain, Matt., Emmott, Stephen., Hanscome, Ron., Tay, Gavin. “Workforce Resilience in the eye of the Pandemic: Overcoming the current remote work situation while planning for the future” Gartner, 16 Apr, 2020, www.gartner.com/en/documents/3983644/workforce-resilience-in-the-eye-of-the-pandemic-overcomi
  2. Eddie. “Should you consider a remote work model for your business?” Flockblog, 20 May, 2020, www.blog.flock.com/4-questions-before-considering-remote-work-for-your-business
  3. N.A. “The Benefits of Working From Home.” Airtasker, 31 Mar, 2020, www.airtasker.com/blog/the-benefits-of-working-from-home/
  4. Simovic, Dragomir. “The ultimate list of remote work statistics – 2021 edition” Smallbizgenius, 6 Jan, 2021, www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/remote-work-statistics/#gref

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