Like anything in business, outsourcing your tech talent isn’t without its hurdles: A recent survey from Andela and Foundry of 211 enterprise IT decision-makers from the US, the UK, and Germany found that almost half are concerned about productivity, time zone differences, and language barriers. But with 40% of workloads outsourced and the most common project length spanning 1-3 years, it’s clear there are solutions to these challenges.
And the benefits of a remote team often outweigh the costs: Numerous studies have shown that remote employees are more productive and engaged than their in-office counterparts. For example, in a 2021 survey by PwC, 34% of worker respondents said they’re more productive now than before the pandemic, when fewer companies embraced remote work. And executives agree: 52% said average employee productivity has improved since 2020.
Hiring globally exposes you to a larger pool of talent and more specialized skill sets, making recruiting faster, cheaper, and ultimately more effective. And distributed workforces are able to capitalize on diverse perspectives and time zones to build strong client relationships, provide around-the-clock service, and innovate regularly.
Below, we’ll cover some of the most common challenges of outsourcing, and how to overcome each one — because yes, it’s possible to build a strong company culture when your employees are located around the world.
1. Language and cultural barriers
It’s important to ensure all potential candidates have the language skills required to communicate effectively with the rest of your team. Otherwise, you’re bound to create confusion and disorganization when bringing in new staff — or worse, develop silos that alienate teams from one another. These cultural barriers were cited as the number one concern among IT leaders surveyed — 38% noted it as the biggest challenge.
Cultural discrepancies, when left unaddressed, can also break down trust among employees and possibly cause issues with foreign clients or customers.
To avoid this, invest in regular training for employees and managers on cultural norms and communication styles. And document everything — whether it’s common company jargon, or step-by-step instructions for how to use certain internal systems. Include all of this, too, in new staffers’ onboarding process so everyone’s on the same page about how to work effectively.
In the hiring stage, looping in a regional expert, such as a local recruiter or global talent marketplace like Andela, can help you weed through candidates who may or may not be a good fit.
2. Time zone overlap (or lack thereof)
When your employees aren’t online when you are, it’s hard to know if they’re being productive and engaging with their work. It can also be difficult to get team members based in different time zones to partner on tasks, or build a team culture where everyone gets along and is learning from one another. More than a third of decision-makers — 36% — said the ability to have overlapping hours was a concern when considering outsourcing.
Akua Sencherey, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Andela, recommends having every team member’s workday overlap within at least a four-hour window so employees have ample time to meet, brainstorm, go over any issues or questions, hand over assignments, and just get to know one another. Having the right tools in place, such as project-management software like Jira and communication tools like Slack and Loom to promote synchronous and asynchronous communication is also key.
3. Embedding talent
The challenge often arises when new employees don’t gel with the rest of the team right away. Whether it’s due to cultural differences, or the challenge of adapting to internal processes, teams who don’t feel comfortable working together can pose problems, as cited by one third of leaders surveyed. As a result, performance or morale may drop, costing your company time, money, and worker engagement.
“Establish clear roles and responsibilities for each talent,” Sencherey says. “A lot of that happens in the onboarding stage, so it’s important to have a strong process in place.” Especially during a new hire’s first few weeks, spend plenty of time outlining goals and benchmarks they need to hit, and make yourself available for questions.
“Also, treat them like you would treat a full-time employee,” she adds. “Send them company swag, get them plugged into internal meetings, and integrate them into your performance review cycle. If you treat them like full-time employees, they’ll be encouraged to perform at that standard.”
Finally, prioritize recognizing good work, and regularly assess how you’re investing in culture, both in-office and remotely.
Solve these challenges with the right technology
To bypass some of the challenges of outsourcing, consider working with a trusted partner like Andela that has a robust and personalized qualification process.
When AI platform Nebula turned to Andela to scale its engineering team fast, Andela’s vast technical network and recruiting tools helped the company bring on 25 skilled engineers in less than six months — and get new products to market months ahead of schedule, according to Nebula’s CTO Ed Donner.
Andela developers now make up 79% of Nebula’s engineering team — and integrating staff into the company was incredibly easy. The team meets daily, and uses Slack and Jira to monitor tasks.
“It’s so great that people bring themselves to the team and feel like they’re part of our culture,” Donner says.
Outsourcing comes with plenty of upsides as our survey respondents cited— increased availability, the ability to scale fast, access to niche skills, and increased diversity, to name a few. And with remote work here to stay, finding the right approach to sourcing and attracting top global talent is more important than ever.
Learn more about partnering with Andela to help overcome these common challenges.