The Nearshore Lowdown: How to Manage a Distributed Team

Written by Donna Kmetz
Direct Staffing
4 mins read
This image shows an employee working remotely. They sit at a desk, working on a computer. There are two bubbles next to them showing two colleagues also at work.

Companies all over the world have adopted remote work as the new normal. COVID-19 may have kickstarted this change, but the real driving force behind it is the practical benefits of a distributed team. 

Businesses making the switch from local, in-office work to distributed teams report improvement across the board.  Their employees enjoy a better quality of life, expenses are lower, and there's more trust among team members. This trust, in particular, leads to a remarkable increase in productivity, with some companies seeing up to a 50% boost.

Despite these positive outcomes, reassessing your organization’s fundamental structure isn’t easy. Shifting to a remote or distributed team requires rethinking day-to-day operations: logistics, management style, and staffing needs. It all comes down to finding the right balance for your business.

To help you find that balance, let’s tackle common questions about managing from a distance–-while maintaining team cohesion.

What’s the Difference Between Remote and Distributed Teams?

So what is a distributed team, anyway? How are they different from remote teams?

The distinction is subtle and has to do with geography. Remote teams are usually situated in the same general area and, most importantly, in the same time zone. There isn't a central office or hub where employees physically gather, but everyone is located nearby. They’re all in the same town or at least the same state.

Distributed teams take a different approach. Some team members might work from a central city, but other workers are scattered around the globe. This setup provides unprecedented flexibility for both employees and businesses.

Click here to get an in-depth look at building and managing remote teams with our Distributed Teams Series.

Leverage the Global Talent Pool

Traditional, old-school hiring practices involve hiring a candidate based in your immediate geographic area (or who is willing to relocate). This limits your recruitment options and can close you off to the right hire who happens to live in a different place.

When you’re open to hiring remote candidates, it greatly expands your recruitment pool. You have access to a plethora of talent outside of your immediate location. This allows you to find “unicorn” candidates who uniquely align with your goals.

Remote candidates fall into three categories: onshore, offshore, and nearshore. These terms define who’s doing the work, where they’re doing it, and what you can expect from your workers. Each option fills a specific niche and need:

  • Onshore: Onshore hires are skilled contractors that work in the same country as your firm, but do so away from the rest of your in-house team. It’s possible that they’re on another coast, or have a skillset your team lacks but only requires for a limited time. Onshore talent temporarily adds to your staff without requiring you to hire more full-time employees.

  • Offshore: Offshore hires are staff that live and work in a country far from your own. They often reside in India, Romania or other overseas countries. While they provide a skill set your company needs, offshore developers typically work on an opposite schedule and/or in a language different from yours. Offshore staff are usually paid a greatly reduced fee: the main benefit of offshoring.

  • Nearshore: Nearshore hires are a balance between onshoring and offshoring. They’re highly-skilled staff that live and work in a country near your own, in the same or a similar time zone. For U.S. companies, these workers often reside in Latin American countries. As with offshore staff, nearshore developers are employed at a more cost-effective rate. And like onshore staff, they tend to have a cultural mindset, language, and working schedule that coincide with your in-house team. 

What is nearshoring, exactly? In fields like software development, IT, and other tech sectors, nearshore development offers a unique advantage. It allows for greater freedom in hiring, as you're not limited by geography. This means you can find the best person for the job, rather than just settling for the best local option.

Alt text: Click here to see how Jobsity found a unicorn hire for McGraw Hill in our Client Success Story.

Minimize Time Zone Difficulties

In order for your distributed team to really thrive, there needs to be smooth communication and minimal delays. If you outsource work to team members located in a drastically different time zone, it often leads to problems.

This includes potential delays in fixing bugs, failing to ward off hackers in a timely manner, and providing a frustrating customer experience. Having staff with different working hours can also create a bottleneck in productivity, since some of your team will be asleep while others are working.

The best option is to have a team where everyone is based out of the same time zone, or close to it. That’s where nearshoring comes in. It’s the best of both worlds! You get the lower rates you need without the hassle of drastically different time zones.

This means it’s easier for all of your staff to coordinate on projects and accomplish tasks. Your team can also collaborate fluidly and have a sense of camaraderie—things that are especially challenging with an offshore team. Nearshore hires grew up with American cultural influences and speak fluent English. And because they work in the same time zone as the rest of your team, coordinating meetings is a breeze.

Invest in Your Employees

When managing a distributed team with nearshore staff, you’ll be saving money on salaries and overhead without skimping on essentials. After all, you won’t need to supply office space to staff who work from home. Reinvesting some of these savings in your workforce will pay dividends.

It’s estimated that by 2025, 50% of all employees will need to reskill in their industry. In other words, half of the modern workforce will need to update their skillset. Consider using some of the money saved from overhead and salary expenses to invest in upskilling. This can look like continued education, training and workshops, moderated discussions, and more. As a bonus, staff upskilling events often also serve as team-building and bonding sessions–and vice versa

The benefits of upskilling and team training have a significant impact throughout your organization. Instead of atrophying, staff’s talents will be kept sharp. And rather than growing complacent and bored at work, staff will feel empowered to take on new challenges.

This has massive implications for retention, as well. 74% of workers want to acquire new skills for their jobs. In turn, providing the opportunity to do so increases company loyalty and retention

If your company is suffering from high turnover, consider how many opportunities you offer for upskilling and advancement. If you don’t have many resources, reassess your team’s common pitfalls and needs. How can you empower your existing staff to improve?

Cultivate Open Communication

Open communication is vital to any team’s success, but this holds especially true for remote or distributed teams. A leader can’t evaluate their team’s growth and strengths without being in tune with their staff. Make open discussion a priority. You’ll have a better sense of your team’s natural strengths and the areas that need more attention.

A great way to do this is by holding team meetings, or “syncs,” regularly. Every member of your team should have the opportunity to discuss their work, their challenges, and their successes. It gives everyone an idea of their place in the workflow and how they contribute to the group as a whole.

Workplace communication and feedback should go both ways. The modern workplace thrives when managers trust their staff to do good work. An authoritative management style breeds discontent and high turnover. In contrast, managers who trust and empower their staff create thriving workplaces. Leaders should actively prioritize feedback from their team and make meaningful changes based on that feedback.

How can communication become more consistent at your company? How can you better integrate it into the company culture, so that it occurs naturally?

IT Nearshoring with Jobsity

At Jobsity, we customize our staffing solutions to your needs, delivering the right talent to help you meet your goals. 

Our expert data engineers have the technical expertise and go-getter attitude needed to accelerate your company's growth..

With an impressive average retention rate of three years, our engineers are in it for the long haul. 

The right time is now: expand your team and elevate your business. Book a call today!

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Written by Donna Kmetz

Donna Kmetz is a business writer with a background in Healthcare, Education, and Linguistics. Her work has included SEO optimization for diverse industries, specialty course creation, and RFP/grant development. Donna is currently the Staff Writer at Jobsity, where she creates compelling content to educate readers and drive the company brand.

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