When a company transfers business or IT processes to a company in a nearby country it means it is ready to deal with remote teams. In case of any remote teams a sense of distance and unhealthy attitudes of “us and them” can easily arise. I’ve seen numerous times situations where “they haven’t delivered clear requirements”, “it worked on our environment but not on theirs”, or “we did all that was specified”.
When teams depend on each other and both contribute in the process of creating and delivering the same product, it’s hard or impossible to achieve goals if teams don’t form a cohesive group, or worse, compete against each other. Such situations might happen even within one company, but when teams are in different countries and working in different company cultures – it’s really probable that such attitudes can easily arise.
In near-shoring programs companies should take serious effort to make sure teams are contributing as one team. The close geographical proximity of business partners gives numerous opportunities to create good cooperation between the distributed teams and achieve common goals together. There are several activities that companies can do to take full advantage of near-shoring model:
Meet regularly F2F
One should choose the near-shoring destination so that it’s easy to travel to. In the era of cheap flights this is much easier than years back. Face to face meetings cannot be overestimated. People are wired to work best while having personal interactions. Face to face meetings make it possible for people to brainstorm effectively, norm their opinions, and perform with common goals in mind.
Organize common events
Try to bring people together physically in one pace for common events. One example is “super demos” where teams make short presentations of the progress they made the last months. Try to make it fun and rewarding for the participants by throwing for example a contest for the best presentation. Make sure people get to know each other not only at their work. Organize events that go beyond the project tasks. One example is common hack days where people can use their creativity, out of box thinking, bring their different cultural contexts to the table, challenge and inspire each other with inventing new solutions and innovations. Or simply organize out of office events where people can exchange ideas and have some fun together.
Use video-conference tools
Good video conferencing tools are great solutions that make remote interactions more human and are definitely 100% worth it. The same or similar time-zone in near shoring model is a great opportunity to keep daily stand-ups together were people inform each other about their progress and video conferencing tools make it possible and efficient. If teams work in Agile try to involve also product owners so they can share more insight into product concepts and road maps.
Organize exchange program
Creating good software solutions goes way beyond excellent technical and analytic capabilities. Both companies that are in near-shoring situation should understand business well. Business understanding can be best taught at the source. And it takes time. If possible, create opportunities for people to travel to the epicenter of business problems. Make them talk to people, end users, work on solutions onsite. Allow them stay there as long as possible. Besides the business knowledge, employees will bring back the understanding of the network, human interactions, and will share the knowledge back at the other end.
The above actions make it possible to avoid “us and them” attitudes. They make teams focus on common goals and approach problems as one team. They make possible for remote teams concentrate on important issues and cooperate smoothly together. Yes, it takes effort, time and money, but it’s definitely worth it.