How to Improve Remote Communication with Nearshore Software Developers
Importance of communication in the workplace
In today’s work environment, remote teams are built with people from varying geographic locations. This is especially true for companies that outsource roles through staff augmentation like software developers. They could be located in the US, for example, while their team of software development experts is in Colombia or some other Latin American territory.
Such physical distance is not usually a problem through proper communication, so you must find the right combination of remote communication tools and strategies to work seamlessly and efficiently.
This blog article addresses a few challenges companies may face when communicating with remote developers and gives six strategies to improve remote communication. But first, what makes in-person and remote communication different?
In-person vs. Remote Communication
In-person communication or face-to-face is when a team can see each other and interact physically when communicating. Remote, however, tends to happen in a virtual setting. Therefore, teams must communicate with written, audio-only, or video conferencing.
With that comes differences like cost, efficiency, and human interaction. For example, in terms of cost, in-person communication tactics like physical meetings may be expensive to find a space and provide refreshments. On the other hand, studies have also shown that in-person meetings are usually longer than necessary and fall victim to more idle talk, which makes remote communication more efficient.
Non-verbal cues like body language and facial expressions become evident, giving all parties a better idea of how each person receives a message which can’t be done when hidden behind an email or turned off cameras.
What other challenges exist with remote communication?
Challenges with Remote Communication
Lack of right internal communication channels
Some businesses jump into outsourcing before having appropriate channels set up. For projects like software development, acing visuals is key. Therefore sticking to written or audio-only communication could mean that things get lost in translation.
Lack of engagement
Building that strong bond between you and your developer is much more complex when remote. Of course, being best buds with your developer isn’t necessarily your goal, but you would want to establish trust and engage in conversations about your projects.
Cultural differences/Language barriers
The truth is some of the world’s top 1% of software developers are not native English speakers. Additionally, they come from territories vastly different from what we’re used to in the US. However, working with a nearshore software developer can lessen cultural barriers. More on this later.
WebCreek, for example, has a large talent pool of software developers who speak fluent English and share similar cultural backgrounds to companies in the US and Canada.
Technology isn’t perfect, no matter how advanced. Even with the right tools and straighties, communication reliant on technology and electronic devices can fail. Wifi connections can be unstable, devices can suddenly crash, and some people simply don’t know how to use them.
Strategies to Improve Remote Communication with Remote Developers
Choose the right tools
Earlier, we mentioned that not having the right communication tools is a huge challenge when maintaining a relationship with your outsourced developers. Whether it’s messaging or collaborative project management tools, you need to invest in an efficient one and take the time to ensure it is a tool your remote team members are comfortable with.
In addition to email, which most people are used to, you can opt for formal and even formal (but still professional) group channels.
Create a communication guideline
One of the best ways to ensure streamlined communication is through a communication guideline document. This document outlines when, where, and how contact occurs. So your team will know when it’s appropriate to send an email over an instant message, for example. Or when it’s ideal for just one individual to get updates rather than a whole team. Think about it; you don’t need a meeting with ten people if you only want to fix a single piece of code. That’s just for you and your software developer. Or you wouldn’t CC your developer on an email that only involves the sales team.
It’s also important for you to set standards for what’s considered timely responses and feedback to minimize delays. For example, you could have a guideline stating team members must respond within 24 hours to emails. Again, consider time zone differences when setting up the communication guideline, especially if you outsource offshore.
Keep your writing clear and concise
Essentially, don’t write more when you can write less.
Using too many words overcomplicates your message, so direct. One helpful tip to achieve a direct writing style is to use active voice. For example, the sentence, “The document was updated”, leaves you wondering who updated it. That is a passive voice. Instead, you should say, “I updated the document,” leaving no room for ambiguity.
Have follow-ups after meetings
The last thing you want is for your software developer to be completely lost after a meeting or reading a message. So it’s a great practice to ask if your developer has any questions or concerns or understands the next steps. If dealing with more than one developer, try reaching out to them one-on-one.
Allow asynchronous communication
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, asynchronous means not happening simultaneously, which is the opposite of synchronous, which involves scheduled conversations like meetings. Synchronous communication is not bad; it’s very productive sometimes to meet with your team all at once. However, it’s not always practical to communicate simultaneously, considering your team’s varying schedules and time zones. That’s why allowing the flexibility of enabling asynchronous communication usually works best for remote communication.
This emphasizes the importance of establishing communication guidelines to keep the team organized. Some examples of asynchronous communication include emails, chats, project management boards, and collaborative documents.
Opt for nearshore software developers
Nearshore outsourcing means working with individuals who live in the same or similar time zones. With nearshore software developers, you can expect a shorter delay, if any, with communication. This makes synchronous collaboration easier as they are usually available during the day when you are.
Learning how to communicate with your outsourced and remote developer is essential for your IT project. While you may experience challenges with remote communication, like lack of engagement and technology disruption, many strategies exist to overcome them. A communication guideline will dictate when and where communication should occur. We recommend nearshoring as it’s the most efficient outsourcing method for collaboration.