Outsourcing? Here’s How to Approach Time Zone Differences
Plenty of outsourcing firms will offer to complete work in the client’s timezone — they will match your office hours if you want. And, for a lot of business owners, this is an attractive proposition. In fact, some clients insist on it. But is it really the best way?
As with most other issues when it comes to outsourcing, it depends. There are a lot of benefits to having your outsourcing team show up and do the work outside of your normal office hours. For example, the finished work and communications can show up in your inbox first thing in the morning. You can then write a few instructions for your outsourced team to follow next time they’re in the office, and focus the rest of your day on managing your own team.
On the other hand, being able to communicate face to face with your remote team whenever necessary can help prevent potential mistakes or delays.
Really, it just depends on what is more important to you — do you want to work closely with your developers, or do you trust them to manage and develop your project with a little leeway? Neither is necessarily better. This blog post will explore both.
Under What Conditions Will You Find Top Talent?
Here’s the truth about working with remote teams: most of your success will come from working with the best available talent, both in leadership and development.
At Capital Numbers we go to great lengths to find, recruit, vet, and manage the absolute best talent, and that often means providing better accommodations for them to work in. Our developers enjoy a lot of creative license and collaboration with other team members and leadership. They work in specially-designed spaces that give them the creativity and comfort to perform well. And, this has allowed us to retain the top developers — they know they can work almost anywhere and they choose to work with us.
And, that’s not to brag… it’s simply to say the exact same thinking applies to working hours as well as working conditions. The top 1% of talent won’t tolerate being “on-call” all 24 hours of the day, because they can just go to a firm that doesn’t require them to do so. So, when you require your outsourced workers to work odd hours, the quality of your project might suffer.
Sure, you can always take a “throw it over the wall” approach and work with an agency that doesn’t offer good, comfortable conditions and hours to its workers. But just be aware that it may require a tradeoff in talent. If you want to retain the best talent, consider the option of allowing your remote team to work in their own time zones and having them turn in the work as you start your day.
Time Zone Overlap
On the bright side, good outsourcing companies and agencies will have systems in place that allow them to flexibly collaborate with their clients. And, they’ll be able to provide top talent and good project management, which reduces the need for webcam meetings.
It’s entirely possible to allow your developers to work their comfortable hours that don’t perfectly align with your office hours, but still overlap. During this overlap you can maintain all your communication and make urgent updates as needed… while your remote team finishes up the project, according to your direction, outside of your office hours.
Now, you might outsource to anywhere, but let’s focus on India, where there is a large pool of talented developers. A normal work shift in India might be 9 AM to 6 PM. If your development partner was willing to stretch the hours, they might come in a little earlier or stay a little later. This time frame would make it possible for them to schedule times to connect with clients all over the world.
If you’re willing to schedule calls and set times for communication along these hours, then you’ll find that your working relationship can actually be even more productive than if they simply worked the same office hours as you.
This goes back to something we often mention here at Capital Numbers:
Communicate Your Preferences
When you begin outsourcing, you set the terms of communication at your desired level. Most good remote agencies will offer an in-depth consultation before starting a project and continue to provide communication touchpoints.
Remember, they want to keep you happy so you keep coming back for more projects. Therefore, your remote partner will be happy to keep up with whatever level of communication is best for you, even while working in opposite time zones.
Another solution to working in different time zones is to put Agile frameworks to use for you. These are specifically designed to harness a lot of “moving parts” when it comes to communication, different teams, different languages, and different time zones. We offer Agile development if you’d like to contact us about that.
The solution to working with outsourced developers in different time zones, while retaining the best possible talent, is to simply schedule set times to communicate. You might only need to find 30 minutes or an hour per day on average to send out messages and communications to your outsourced team. And usually, good remote agencies will work their communication time into your schedule. Remember, in this scenario you’re working with the top 1% of the available talent so you can trust them to execute on your directions. You don’t have to manage them hour to hour as you might manage your in-house team. The remote agency’s project management systems will take care of it.
In any case, they can operate somewhat independently by keeping their work schedules separate from yours, or they can work directly with your team and block off hours in the week to communicate. It depends on your preference, so just ask.