Tips for effective communication in a hybrid team (Onshore/offshore)

Binta Arowolo
August 4, 2023

It's been a breathe of fresh air and a thing of joy for some of us employees since we had to start working from home- All thanks to covid (Ironic right?!). This has birthed a new vibe in the working environment, work flows adjusted, new strategies but the same goal at heart.

That being said, it's been a whole new experience and it exciting to share a few tips for effective communication in a hybrid team- Onshore and offshore.

Firstly, a very brief background on the terms onshore and offshore- Onshore refers to workers physically available in an office environment, carrying out office duties as usual. While offshore refers to employees outside the office location. The approach to work for offshore workers varies and one of them is working remotely, which is the focus of this article. The blend of both types of employees is what makes a hybrid team.

It can’t be overemphasized, how crucial communication is to the success of teamwork, how we go about it is what matters. Asides dealing with offshore remote employees,  this article further focuses on a scrum team. So here we go!

Find more about scrum here.

  1. Understanding social cultural differences

Having worked daily with teams with cultural differences, we have come to find it pertinent to understand the team’s environment, ethics (social and work). This goes a long way to understand how to relate with the team and most importantly, how to work with them. This goes both ways. We get to understand and respect these differences and find the best way to accommodate them whilst creating the best working environment for the entire team.

  1. Manage time zones

From experience, it is safe to say it's best to have a time difference of 4-6 hours between the offshore and onshore teams. For example, we have a client (onshore) that is six (6) hrs ahead of us (offshore). This means when we start our day and get to work, the client is still asleep. This gives us ample time to get some work done before meeting with the client when they are up. Asides that, we still have sufficient time to work and communicate with the client before the end of day for us. 

In the case where the time difference is more, this should be factored into work; with focus on creating the best way for the team to collaborate efficiently for better productivity.

  1. Team bonding

As the old saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! This goes hand in hand with the first point. It's just like in a regular human relationship (social), the more understanding you have of your friend/partner, the better. This applies to work relationships between team members. Find ways to create a friendly or cordial work environment while respecting each other's differences. For instance cracking a joke shortly before the meeting starts/checking on any latest happenings on both sides (like change in weather). This helps to sort of calm or relax the atmosphere before work begins but be sure to be sensitive to others present.

Please note that this is dependent on what is and is not allowed within each team.

  1. Develop work ethics/culture within the hybrid team

Time helps both teams such that they align their various cultures and become more productive. It also results in an enabling work environment for the team to function as one despite their differences.

  1. Be receptive to change

Bear in mind that individual teams have other events/operations on their ends, it is expected that changes will occur (either expected or unexpected). These changes should be accepted and adapted to without hesitation. For instance any of the teams can lay off a key person on their team for reasons best known to them. It is left for the other team to accept this change and adapt easily without issues. This is where interpersonal skills come into play, at its best.

Binta Arowolo
Binta is a project manager and enjoys writing about her experiences.
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