Right on Schedule: Syncing Offshore Time

September 22, 2021

Real-time or partial overlap? Overcome time zone challenges with team members on the other side of the world.

Between Manila and the East Coast, there is a 12-hour difference. The sun rises in the Philippines as the previous day is just about to end in the United States. It may seem a challenging situation, but the Get Devs team separated by oceans makes it work day in and day out.

But where one team succeeds, many could fail—especially when companies leap into offshore recruitment without preparation. It can be costly for your business when employees can’t get on the same page, especially when urgent issues arise and solutions take longer than expected to arrive as you account for everyone’s inputs.

When crossing continents is inevitable, how do you manage a workforce whose sense of time is different? It starts with a standardized schedule. There are two common setups for blended operations:

Full real-time collaboration. There are obvious wins to having your remote team on the exact schedule your in-house team follows. With matched hours, it’s almost like you have your offshore developers in the same room. Production timelines are seamless, files are always updated, and you do away with extra meetings to keep two teams updated on each other’s progress. Distanced members also feel less alone; their morale is boosted when they can feel that they’re part of a team and this shows in their productivity.

However, there are some challenges to watch out for with this setup. Because there is half a day in between, Filipinos working real-time on US accounts will be on a graveyard shift. While it’s possible to get them on board, it could take longer to find and hire good ones. As they keep up with the demands of life, too, there is the risk of burning out quickly and leaving the team sooner.

Schedule overlap. There are cases wherein a partial overlap could work or might be better for both. For us and our partners, we found our sweet spot to be 4 hours of overlap in schedules. You can still achieve real-time collaboration but with allowance on either side to prepare for alignment meetings and have distraction-free desk time. This setup encourages offshore teams to be efficient with questions and consultations, and it pulls local leads from the temptation of micro-managing their remote colleagues to the last minute.

Software developers in Manila tend to favor this schedule, as they get the best of both worlds. They are freed from driving or commuting through the city’s infamous rush hour traffic while still having the space to manage their personal matters on regular hours.

So, how do you choose between the two?
We turn to the classic PPT framework: people, process, technology.

People. Consider the roles and responsibilities of your team members. Does their position require them to constantly communicate with others? Or should they be output-oriented and can contribute greatly with more focused hours to code? Their background matters, too. Are they experienced remote employees who can manage their own time? Are they reliable at meeting deadlines either way? These are questions your offshore hiring partners should think about even before your new team is onboarded.

Process. Look into your software development methodology. Are you hiring for projects that can be done in a step-by-step model (waterfall)? Or is your product/ service fast-changing, needing agile development and real-time collaboration? Do you prefer that developers work ahead of your timezone and have their work for review once you log in? Or would you rather create with them as they go along? Can meetings be scheduled ahead of time? Communication should play a key role in either setup, including setting clear expectations on schedules and deliverables.

Technology. There are plenty of tools and software that now lets you stay updated on what your team members are up to, be they offshore or onshore. A question can be solved with a quick answer on Slack, longer discussions can be had over Zoom or Google Meets, attendances can be filed over Calamari, and deliverables can be tracked with synced calendars. Find what works best for your process and is available for setup on all of your locations.

Time Zones are no longer an impossible hurdle. Get the benefits of hiring technical talent offshore with a hiring partner who can also help manage their day-to-day.

Let’s have your team set up for success. Consult with Get Devs today.