Hiring employees for your remote team is easier than ever. Not only are you able to hire employees from across state lines, but you are also able to hire employees from anywhere in the world. Since geographical barriers are not a factor in hiring remote workers, it is easier for employers to select from a larger pool of candidates.
When hiring employees for remote jobs across state lines, you know that you need to honor the labor and wage laws from the employees’ home states. We are aware of the pros and cons of hiring remote workers from across state lines. However, what do you need to be mindful of when hiring from outside the country? What are the pros and cons of hiring offshore employees for your remote team?
The pros of hiring offshore employees definitely outweigh the cons. And that is the very reason offshore workers are great contenders for remote work in the first place. Let’s try to understand the good and the bad that comes with having a team without barriers.
Pros of Hiring Offshore Employees For Your Remote Team
The number one benefit of hiring offshore employees is the cost savings you realize from hiring internationally. Cost is the number one barrier for anyone who wants to start a business. Then once you are in business, you have to keep the cost of operating your business as low as possible. You have to maintain and grow profits. Nurturing plans for growth and development becomes your next concern. The cost of labor and benefits is usually a big, if not the biggest cost, of running a business. The idea of cutting costs by hiring qualified workers at a bargain is a no-brainer for most employers. You can use the savings you get from cutting labor costs to grow and develop your business or organization. Generally speaking, the cost savings from hiring offshore employees is enough to outweigh almost all cons of hiring internationally.
It is not just the cost savings from hiring offshore employees that can benefit an employer. Sometimes there is a shortage of qualified, local workers to fill in job openings. Prolonged worker shortages can push employers to look for workers overseas. Sometimes local businesses create remote team positions for foreign hires simply because these foreigners cannot fly into the country. For example, the pandemic has shut down international travel between many countries. A lot of skilled workers had to return to their own countries. In some cases, foreign workers were vacationing in their home countries when the pandemic started. So these workers have been stuck in their home countries. Since they are willing and able to work, their employers are creating remote positions for them.
Hiring offshore employees for your remote team will not only give you a local competitive advantage but will also set you up for a global competitive advantage in your industry. Since there is usually a never-ending supply of qualified, international workers to choose from, it is easier to find and replace remote team workers. In any case, why wouldn't you want to hire a qualified offshore employee at a bargain when it makes business sense to do so?
Once your offshore employees start working for you, you will realize how quickly and seamlessly workflows from one day to the next. For example, the United States and India have almost opposite time zones. Our noontime is usually midnight there. So if you leave a task for someone at 8 pm tonight, it will most likely be done by the time you wake up tomorrow morning. This is because when it is evening here, workers are just starting their day over there. You do not have to wait for a whole day to get your team to get things done. Can you believe how easy it is to enjoy the fruits of higher productivity? Just harnessing the benefit of a compatible time zone difference improves productivity instantly.
Complement To Local Team
Even when you hire offshore employees for your remote team, it does not mean that you will not have any local workers. Local and overseas employees can complement each other to complete tasks and projects. Workers from the one-time zone can easily step in to help when employees from another time zone are coming to the end of their daily work shifts. Extra help from different time zones can help a team to finish projects on time. It can also help with solving problems that take countless hours or days to solve. When local and overseas team members work complementarily, they help to prevent or at least reduce the rate of employee burnout for workers from different time zones.
We often think of how we can help others around the world. When you create jobs for people who live overseas, you are helping to alleviate poverty around the world. You are not just hiring anybody. You are hiring hardworking, qualified, and experienced workers. These foreigners are willing and able to work. Sometimes when we donate to overseas charities, we wonder if our donations will end up in the pockets of greedy officials. When you hire an offshore employee for your remote team, you don’t have to worry about whether your charitable donations made it to the people you are trying to help. By employing hardworking global citizens, you are helping your employees to provide for themselves and their families.
Cons of Hiring Offshore Employees For Your Remote Team
One of the reasons the words offshoring and outsourcing are met with so much contempt is that these terms are usually linked to local unemployment. While it makes financial sense to hire offshore employees for your business, hiring from overseas will increase unemployment in your home country. Locals wonder why businesses care about short-term profit to create long-term unemployment. Doesn’t charity begin at home? Local governments will tax businesses at higher rates if they have to spend more to feed and house a growing unemployed population. Is it worth employing outsiders when you end up paying more money in taxes for social welfare? You have to consider the long-term effect of hiring offshore employees.
Time Zone Delays
When your remote team members hail from different time zones, it can be really difficult for everyone to keep up with each other. For example, it is difficult to collaborate in real-time when one employee is wide awake because it is a sunny afternoon for them, yet, it is a cold winter night after midnight for another worker at the exact same time. It can also be difficult to schedule company-wide meetings or social events that include everyone because of time zone differences. This can create a sense of disconnectedness between team members. It can also create a sense of isolation for the workers who have the least amount of interactions with their teammates. Disengagement and disconnectedness can affect the quality of teamwork in the remote work environment. You can build stronger connections between your team members by creating opportunities for them to engage with each other.
Usually, though, it is the following up on messages, or trying to get timely answers from team members from across different time zones that prove to be the biggest headache. Your remote team members cannot answer questions when they are dropping their kids off at school. People usually do not respond to emails when it is the middle of the night in their time zones. So long response wait times are definitely a con that comes with hiring offshore employees from different time zones.
Reliability of Connections.
The reliability of internet connections or power shortages are issues that can affect the work output of your offshore employees. You don't know when or how often internet connections will go down. You also don't know when local problems like floods and storms will prevent your offshore employees from being able to access the power, and electricity to do their jobs. Sometimes major natural disasters, political turmoil, civil wars, or violent outbreaks can put your offshore workers out of commission. They might not be able to work for days, weeks, or even months. Sometimes under extreme situations, your offshore workers might not be able to return to work at all.
Cultural & Language Barriers
Sometimes cultural and language barriers can create misunderstandings and delays that affect productivity. For example, unreliable transportation is quite common in most parts of the world, where cheap labor is plentiful. So maybe an offshore employee will not be at their workstation punctually because they are stuck on the road somewhere. And since tardiness is not frowned upon in the employee's local culture, they might not be concerned about being late to work. Yet, you might be getting upset over habitual tardiness. Punctuality might be important in your culture but, it might not be a big deal for your offshore workers.
Sometimes words and phrases that are harmless in one setting are taken as an offense in another. Sometimes instructions are simply misinterpreted due to language proficiency issues. Again, this can cause delays in work or hinder in achieving company goals. Try to build cultural awareness between team members from diverse geographical locations by delving into fun and engaging activities.
Risk of Exposing Confidential Information
When you employ offshore workers, you can never be sure who has access to your confidential business or proprietary information. Are your offshore workers using secure connections and reliable devices? Are they updating their antivirus programs? Do they even have antivirus programs installed on their computers? Are your employees sharing their work computers with friends and family members? Can your employees be trusted not to sell private customer information? What if they sell proprietary information to your competitors? There are so many intentional and unintentional ways of exposing sensitive information.
One of the dangers of employing offshore employees for your business is that you may be inadvertently training your competitors. Your offshore workers could learn all the tricks of the trade and start a competing business. It will be a shame if your competitors keep working for you while they operate a competing business on the side. Whenever you employ offshore workers in a particular business over a long time frame, some local person will inevitably set up shop engaging in the same business as you.
Verifying Identity & Qualifications
An interesting problem with hiring offshore employees is that you can never be sure about the identity and qualifications of the people you hire. Are your workers going to be competent and qualified enough to perform their work duties? Sometimes local governments and spies might want access to your company information for nefarious reasons.
It might be harder to discipline or hold an offshore employee accountable for poor work habits or serious company violations. You might never know if internet connections are actually down or employees are pulling the wool over your eyes. They will still get paid whether they are working or not.
You might be able to sue a local employee for mishandling, selling, or exposing confidential information. However, it will not be so easy to go after your offshore employees. How will you find them? Were they even using their real identities when they were working for you?
Hiring offshore employees for your remote team can come with a variety of pros and cons. One of the best advantages of hiring offshore employees is that they cost pennies on the dollar when compared to local workers. The candidate pool is infinitely bigger when you are selecting workers from a global applicant pool. You can certainly hire the best and most qualified workers when you cast the job net across the whole world.
However, hiring offshore employees can come with a fair amount of problems. Unpredictable internet and power outages can put critical work on hold. Time zone differences, tardiness, and cultural barriers can also cause delays in getting work done on time. Cybersecurity issues and mishandling of sensitive work information can also be problematic for your business. So put some thought and consideration into the pros and cons of hiring offshore employees for your remote team before you pull the trigger. While there are many good reasons for hiring offshore employees for your business, it may or may not be a good decision for you, depending on the nature of your business.