How to Successfully Manage Time Zone Differences with Offshore Developers

Joan Nadene

April 7, 2023

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There are a few things that inevitably come with offshoring, and dealing with different time zones is one of them. Dealing with time zone differences can be quite challenging, as they can affect communication, project timelines, and overall productivity. However, with the right approach and best practices, managing an offshore team across time zones can be done successfully. In this article, we will discuss how time zone differences affect offshore IT teams, the benefits and disadvantages of working in different time zones depending on location, and some best practices for dealing with the time zone difference when working with an offshore team or offshore software development company.

How Time Zone Differences Affect Offshore IT Teams

When working with an offshore team, time zone differences can be a significant challenge. Communication can become difficult, as team members may not be available during the same hours, and project timelines can be affected due to the communication delays. Overall productivity may also be impacted, as team members may struggle to adjust to working at different times of the day.

It’s important to note, however, that despite these challenges, countless teams around the world have worked in different time zones successfully. Some of the biggest companies in the world have been operating successfully with offshore teams for decades, and offshoring continues to be a viable option for most companies. This only shows that, while offshoring does come with time zone challenges, these challenges can easily be overcome and businesses can reap the full benefits of offshoring without worry.

The Benefits and Disadvantages of Working in Different Time Zones

Working in different time zones can have both advantages and disadvantages, depending on the location of the offshore team. For example, a team located in Asia can be advantageous for companies in North America or Europe, as the team can work while the rest of the company is asleep. This means that work can be completed around the clock, potentially leading to faster project completion times.

Working with teams located in other countries could also mean significant cost savings for the company. Software development offshoring in the Philippines for example, costs roughly half that of in-house software development in the US.

However, working in different time zones can also have disadvantages. As we’ve previously stated, offshore team members may struggle with communication due to limited overlap in working hours. Additionally, team members may struggle with adjusting to working at different times of the day, which can lead to decreased productivity and potential burnout.

Best Practices for Dealing with Time Zone Differences

While managing an offshore team across time zones can be challenging, there are several best practices that can help mitigate these challenges. Here are some tips for successfully managing an offshore development team across time zones:

  • Set Clear Expectations: It’s important to set clear expectations around communication and availability when working with an offshore team. Make sure that all team members understand the expected response times and how to handle communication when working across time zones. Also make sure that tasks and responsibilities are allocated clearly and appropriately, so everyone knows what they should do and when they should be doing it.
  • Schedule Overlapping Time: If possible, try to schedule overlapping work hours between the offshore team and the rest of the company. This can help ensure that there is time for collaboration and communication between team members. Also, make sure to schedule team meetings at the appropriate times. To help facilitate this (and so you don’t have to manually keep track of everyone’s time zones and differences) you could use scheduling software that helps to sync all your team members’ availability.
  • Use Technology to Facilitate Communication: Technology can be a great tool for facilitating communication between team members in different time zones. Consider using tools like video conferencing, instant messaging, and project management software to keep everyone connected and on the same page.
  • Be Flexible: When managing an offshore team across time zones, it’s important to be flexible and understanding. Recognize that team members may be working at unusual times of the day and may need additional support to stay productive.
  • Plan Ahead: Plan ahead to minimize delays and disruptions caused by time zone differences. This means setting realistic deadlines, allocating enough time for communication, and planning for potential delays caused by the time zone difference.
  • Adopt an Agile Methodology: Agile methodology helps offshore software development teams work better as it promotes collaboration, flexibility, and quality. By encouraging regular check-ins, daily stand-up meetings, and frequent feedback sessions, agile methodology keeps all team members on the same page and ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals. Additionally, agile methodology enables teams to respond quickly to changing requirements or unexpected roadblocks, without derailing the entire project. This can be particularly valuable for offshore teams, who may be dealing with language barriers, cultural differences, or other challenges. Agile methodology can also help to improve the overall quality of offshore software development projects by breaking the development process into smaller, manageable chunks and identifying and addressing issues early on in the process.
  • Work with People You Trust. Working with an offshore team means you won’t be able to keep track of them all the time. You need to have people in your team that you can trust. That means properly vetting potential team members before hiring them, and having an onsite supervisor there to help manage your offshore team even when you’re not there.

Managing an offshore development team across time zones can be a challenging task, but with the right approach and best practices, it can be done successfully. It also helps to have a reliable offshoring partner like CoDev. CoDev is a software development outsourcing company that’s helped hundreds of businesses build their offshore teams for over 12 years. We help our customers source, screen and retain their offshore development teams, and build lasting relationships with them as they grow. Learn more about CoDev and how we coud help with your offshore development team, get in touch with us today.

Joan Nadene

Joan Nadene

Joan Nadene, a seasoned content writer with a decade of experience in the field of outsourced work, wields a strong background in collaborating with offshore outsourcing companies and serving clients across diverse industries in the US and Australia. Joan has been an invaluable part of the CoDev team for over 7 years.

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