Distant work is a core feature of outsourcing. It allows you to use human resources from countries with lower prices or with a bigger labor market. Outsourcing is unimaginable without remote work.
For many years, companies used in-office work, while hesitating to use remote work as they associated it with low control, low productivity and low reliability. COVID-19 changed everything. By now, most companies in industries that allow remote work have accepted the idea and are actively using it.
If you’ve had your own employees work remotely, then the “remote” part of outsourcing is probably not a concern for you anymore. A software developer residing on another continent works just as well as a software developer living across the street. Modern telecom technologies can provide fast and secure access to a cloud-based or on-premises corporate environment from basically anywhere, so distance has ceased being a factor.
Concerns still related to distant work are discussed in greater detail in our earlier posts: “Lack of Control Over the Team and its Work” and “Culture Gap between Client and Service Provider”.
Unlike the above-mentioned issues, the challenge of time zone differences has not disappeared with COVID-19. In extreme cases, time difference between client’s and provider’s locations can be up to 12 hours, which means no overlapping between regular business hours. This is not workable because teams need live communication, including chats and video calls. Agile projects require even more communication between project teams.
If you have that big a time difference with your outsourcing partner, one side will have to adjust its work hours to have them overlap to enable communication. It is not necessary to have all the working hours overlap — in most cases, 2-4 hours per day are sufficient for live communication. Many work matters do not have to be communicated in real time.
It’s also worth noting that a time difference can be advantageous, if you properly design collaboration with your outsourcing partner. The time difference allows you to extend your aggregated workday to 12 or more hours, passing the outcome of each workday between time zones, like a relay race, and speed up project deliveries. Of course, not every project can benefit from the time difference, a lot depends on particular project nature.
To mitigate the concerns over distant work and time zone differences, we at Solead:
Our next post will touch on another concern that projects may face — unexpected absenteeism and unforeseen departures. Stay tuned.
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