There are many benefits to outsourcing software engineering to a competent and professional remote team, like being able to scale your project and your business easier, working with talented developers, and reducing costs. But hiring developers from another country means that you may also have to consider circumstances that you don’t typically face while managing staff from your own country.
If you’re considering hiring a remote software engineer to augment your current staff or to bring on as a full-time employee, you’ll need to know how to effectively communicate and interact with the new team member in order to motivate them and therefore create a stellar final product.
Here is what you should consider as a client who is onboarding remote employees located in offshore and nearshore locations and how to best engage with them.
Your responsibility is to communicate clearly to each team member. Before the project begins, outline a clear project scope with well-defined deliverables that are realistic and reasonable. Software engineering is, by nature, very detailed work, and your communications should follow this same logic.
It’s important to outline clear, standardized communication guidelines that take into account the many different cultures, and therefore communication styles, of your offshore developers. Some communication expectations to consider are:
- Rules for etiquette during video calls (these can help foster an environment where staff are more comfortable interacting with each other)
- What communication channels the team will use (communication tools like Slack or Discord, vs. traditional email, allows for instant communication and file sharing, while being able to easily group team members by specific projects or subsets of any given project)
- How often the team is expected to communicate
- What types of things team members should communicate
Additionally, since your outsourced team may not be native English speakers, any written protocols should be in clear language — free of figures of speech, idioms, or obscure cultural references — that your outsourced team may not be familiar with.
A reality of having a team made up of remote and/or outsourced employees is that your team will be working in many different time zones. Although it may seem counterintuitive, asynchronous work can actually increase productivity, because it allows team members to focus and log concentrated work time without interruptions. With communication tools and proper documentation, the entire team can collaborate on the project without the need to be working at the same time.
With asynchronous work, real-time communications are reduced and, when necessary, can be focused on tasks that are more beneficial when conducted in real-time, like brainstorming and decision-making.
Working in different time zones does not mean that team members are not communicating. Documenting and cataloging work in a project management system will help other team members track progress and stay productive.
Finding the right balance of asynchronous work and synchronous communication can significantly improve the efficiency and productivity of your software engineering team.
Most non-US cultures place a greater value on personal time versus work time as well as prioritize vacations and family time (for example, Argentina has 19 national holidays, and normal vacation time is three weeks per year). This isn’t to say that they aren’t hard workers — quite the contrary. For example, Argentines take more time off compared to Americans, but their work productivity and velocity make up for the time they’re away.
We’d like to emphasize that this is not an unfounded claim. The productivity of our Argentine talent base at AccelOne is reported and confirmed by our clients who have measured our team’s velocity against our competitors and arrived at this conclusion.
The way you pay an employee can surprisingly communicate a lot about the employer-employee relationship. For example, the pay-by-the-hour model, where the offshore employee logs hours into a time tracking tool and is subsequently billed according to the hours worked, is common in the US, but this model does not work everywhere. For instance, in places like Argentina, working is not just about getting paid — employees want to feel like they’re part of a team and they want to be treated as a valuable contributor, not just another cog in the machine. Being paid hourly can often give this impression.
At AccelOne, we utilize a monthly rate as much as possible. This way, holidays, vacations, and life happens, and work gets done because the employee feels like they’re a team member and not just a hired gun.
In conclusion, a client’s approach to engagement should mirror the expectations of the people working for them. If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of managing a software engineer from another country, consider enlisting the help of an IT staffing and recruiting company..
At AccelOne, we specialize in providing nearshore software development and talent sourcing solutions. To learn more about our services or to schedule a consultation, contact us online or call 800.863.6814.
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Partner & Managing Director