Much of the conversation around shift work focuses on jobs that require workers to be on-call or present at work around the clock. These jobs include emergency and rescue occupations as well as mining and industrial work.
But, offshore outsourcing companies do not function the way fire stations, hospitals and mining firms do.
It's important that customers get to talk to a person immediately, even if they called after work hours. This means customer service representatives in domestic call centers must work the night shift or be assigned a rotating shift to cover all hours that customers may need assistance. But, working 8 hours straight in a day, a 12-hour shift, or a 24-hour shift is subject to federal laws.
Rather than push employees to work more than 40 hours in a week and pay for overtime work, many companies outsource the low-level tasks to a third-party service provider. The fact that the job does not require employees to work on-site is a bonus. This way companies can hire offshore workers, and get quality work done for a much lower cost.
For Consistent Delivery of Services
When you outsource to the Philippines, for example, you're taking advantage of the 180-degree difference between your timezone and theirs. You won't be paying anyone for overtime work, much less for a night differential when your offshore staff are operating on an inverse work/sleep schedule compared to yours.
Some companies prefer to divide the work between their offshore and onshore employees. Work that does not require immediate attention can be delegated to offshore staff. And, those tasks that require the attention of on-call technicians are assigned to onshore staff.
Onshore employees can take care of customers during the day in their part of the world. They can make impromptu visits to their customers or provide step-by-step instructions in real-time. Meanwhile, offshore staff can be trusted to filter through the emails and chat inquiries. They can answer the easiest questions and escalate the complicated ones to a supervisor, who is either onshore or offshore, depending on the circumstances.
Having offshore staff working for you while most of your onshore employees are resting at home brings huge advantages to your business. One advantage is that there will always be someone to answer calls and emails. Your customers will feel they're important to you and that their needs are being met.
Another advantage is that your onshore staff are immediately informed about the most urgent problems with customers and given the chance to fix them in real-time without requiring them to remain at the office all the time. They can be at home and still provide the best service when they need to. The rest of the work is taken care of by offshore employees.
Better Labor Laws for Night Shift Workers
Let's be honest. Labor costs are way lower in developing countries. It's because of the costs of living in one country are either higher or lower compared to another.
This also means that your offshore employees will not be receiving the same overtime pay per hour that your onshore staff receives. It's definitely lower, but the 10% night differential that your offshore staff receives is a welcome addition to their already higher-than-average basic salary.
Moreover, night shift work in call centers and other types of outsourcing firms made a significant impact on working women in the Philippines. Women used to be prohibited from working between 10 PM and 6 AM of the following day in industrial companies, and working between midnight and 6 AM of the following day in commercial establishments.
The ban, however, did not apply if the women's services were needed to prevent loss of life or property, avoid serious damage to facilities or goods, or if they were engaged in health and welfare services.
In 2011, this restriction has been lifted because of the rapid increase in the number of women who work in call centers in the Philippines.
Keeping Your Offshore and Onshore Workers In Sync
If you didn't have an onshore staff, then good for you. There's no problem with scheduling your meetings together and communicating at inopportune times. But, if you do have local people in your employ, then make sure their work hours and the work schedule of your offshore staff are in sync.
The widespread use of VoIP clients, like Skype and Hangouts, makes communication in real-time a lot easier. It's recommended that you and your onshore staff schedule a quick meeting with your offshore team together either first thing in the morning or before they get off work.
The purpose for this constant communication is not only to gather updates and check on the progress of their work, but also to build a strong working relationship with your offshore team. With you as their leader and mentor, your teams on both sides of the ocean will learn to trust and appreciate their co-workers albeit the geographic gap and the differences in their cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. This will also boost everyone's morale and motivate them to be more productive.
Address Your Staff's Health Concerns
More than the synchronization of work schedules and other adjustments that you'll need to make for your offshore staff to work in harmony with your onshore employees, you'll also need to address any health concerns that come up among your offshore staff.
When your offshore employees are in a humid country, they're likely to be vulnerable to various illnesses that you and your onshore staff are not.
Your remote staff are often exposed to humid heat and rainy weather. This can be hard on their immune systems. People in the tropics are more likely to get sick from influenza:
Humidity remains a driver, but rainfall enters the picture, too. In places like the Philippines and Vietnam with intense monsoon rains (averaging more than six inches a month), flu season peaks when it's hot and rainy.
The good news is: the rainy season does not start in the Philippines until May or June. This means your onshore staff - who may be enjoying a good summer season in your part of the world - will be better positioned to take on the slack when many of your offshore staff get sick. The latter may compensate for the absences caused by flu when your onshore staff need to remain indoors during winter, which is also the time when people in temperate zones commonly get the sniffles.
Generally, outsourcing to the Philippines or any offshore service provider in a different timezone is a quid pro quo arrangement. Your offshore employees take care of those parts of your business that need attention when your onshore staff are not available. In turn, your onshore staff can be relied upon to do much of the work during those times that many of your offshore staff may not be available. This symbiotic relationship is representative of how outsourcing works for many businesses.