Is an offshore team right for my business?

As our highly connected world and digital economy expands, teams across oceans are becoming more and more common.

Today businesses are hiring talented people from all over the world, and reaping the benefits of building remote teams.

It’s a trend that will only continue, with Forbes reporting predictions that 50% of the US workforce will be working freelance by 2020.

How offshore teams work

Offshore teams are groups of individuals who work in another country or location (not at your main office).

They provide a service that can be done remotely.

They add value to your business with a specialised expertise.

While outsourcing means that another company or individual will be managing the workers, offshore teams are managed by you. They’re employees simply sitting in a different work location.

When to consider an offshore team

If you’re unsure if an offshore team could work for your business, you’re not alone.

“The establishment of virtual teams as an organisational way of life has come so quickly that it’s left many managers at a bit of a loss,” shares the Harvard Business Review. 

Companies must be careful in determining if and when—and when not—to offshore.

Though offshoring is becoming increasingly popular, an objective look is necessary to avoid failures and maximise results.

Smart decision-making and execution is critical in realising the full benefits of offshoring.

First, we must consider the type of work that can be off-shored.

Common offshore job categories

One look at Upwork’s common categories shows us the most popular remote roles today:

  • Web developers
  • Mobile developers
  • Designers & creatives
  • Writers
  • Virtual assistants
  • Customer service agents
  • Sales & marketing
  • Accountants & consultants

Within those categories falls a huge range of roles, from data entry, to voice talent, to video editors.

Plus, in the coming years you can expect more traditional roles in industry such as legal, education, and professional services to begin going virtual.

Work and project definition

Because of the costs involved in offshoring, it’s necessary to define the projects and objectives of your potential offshore team.

You’ll want to:

  • Identify job titles and/or projects
  • Clarify your goals for the team
  • Consider the available budget for starting up an offshore endeavour
  • Determine how communication and check-ins will go
  • Think about how you will hire and train your offshore team

By gaining more clarity around what your offshore team would look like, you can begin to realise if it makes financial and business sense for you.

When not to use offshore teams

For many, many businesses, offshore teams increase diversity and provide a high level work performance in an area of expertise.

From a financial perspective, offshore teams either save the company money due to reduced wages and benefit packages—or they offer such tremendous benefit that companies gain from mere output.

There are some instances, though, where offshoring doesn’t make much sense, both from a financial and business standpoint.

When offshoring is NOT appropriate:

  • You are a start-up or fairly new organisation with new product development projects (i.e. close contact and communication are essential).
  • The work is core to the company and offshoring could put it at risk.
  • The project involves a high level of intellectual property (i.e. the IP could be harder to protect abroad).
  • If you’re looking for immediate financial benefit; offshore teams require time and investment.
  • It’s a complex project with multiple team involvement, making confusion more likely.

Any questions?

If you have questions on this topic or any others, feel free to reach me by email or set up a free one-on-one consultation session, or drop me a comment below.

Thanks for sharing!