How to Work Effectively with Your Overseas Web Developer

According to Global Workplace Analytics, “The remote workforce has increased by 140% since 2005.” The remote, digital work space has dramatically changed how we do business today as teams now work from all corners of the world, meeting on platforms like Zoom and Skype to Slack and Teamviewer, to name a few. Some teams never meet each other or their clients face-to-face, so building trust, reliability and learning best practices for working remotely with overseas counterparts is key to having a successful, dynamic team and happy, returning clients!

The SMA Marketing team is located across several US states and countries. Our web developer and graphic designer are located in the Philippines, so when we work with our overseas team members, there are several things to keep in mind from best communication practices and cultural differences to client deadlines in EST.

3 Tips on How to Improve Communication With your Overseas Team Members

Communicating with people in a shared language is challenging at times. It can be even more so with team members who speak English as a second language. English is well entrenched in the Philippines and schools incorporate English speech and writing classes to ensure students not only learn the language, but also the proper diction and intonation, however, you should still be cognizant and sensitive to potential language barriers.

  1. Find out what platforms your developer prefers to use for communication, i.e., email and instant messaging over video meetings? Are they more comfortable speaking or typing in English?
  2. If necessary, simplify your English and choose words that are easy to understand when giving direction on projects.
  3. Ask your developer what time of day or night they prefer to work and coordinate this with North American timelines. Keep in mind that 2pm EST on a Friday afternoon in North America is 2 am on a Saturday in the Philippines. Here is a world clock to view time zones.

4 Key Strategies to Help Web Development Projects Run Smoothly

Within our Web Development team, we are very fortunate to work with an amazing and devoted web developer based in the Philippines. When I joined SMA, I quickly learned how talented, dedicated and professional he is about the work. As we were learning about one another and our preferred work styles, here are four things I found most useful:

  1. Schedule a video call to meet your web developer ‘face-to-face’ in order to build a good rapport.
  2. Collaboration is the key to a successful web build. Using Slack and Teamviewer are two great platforms to work on together to do edits, share screens, send screenshots and troubleshoot.
  3. When sending web edits, be specific by using visual guides such as step-by-step videos or screenshots with clear instructions.
  4. Establish project deadlines and send them to your developer with advanced notice, always confirming that these timelines work within their schedule.

Cultural Differences and Taking the Time to Learn About Them

I continually learn so much about our most excellent web developer’s culture, way of life, and his family which are all vastly different from mine in North America. I am respectful of these differences and always curious to learn more about his life from the importance of their holidays to strong family values.

In Chris Ducker’s book, Virtual Freedom he notes, “You must make it your business to understand the cultural and social influences” that guide your Filipino team member’s thought process. Filipinos deeply value their traditions and will not put work before important holidays. Since most of the country is Catholic, you should know when their holidays are, including the special nonworking days declared by the Philippine government. A full list of holidays can be found here.

It’s also important to note that many Filipinos choose to become entrepreneurs to support their families and put others through school. They run tight budgets and have likely already allocated the money you’ve promised them.

Lastly, humor is universal! Have fun with your overseas team members, enjoy learning about them and their culture. Myself and our web developer have shared lots of “virtual” laughs and have fun while building websites for our clients. We have created a trustworthy, reliable working relationship that transpires through the work we produce for our satisfied clients.

As working with remote teams becomes more mainstream, there are many ways to start off on the right foot in order to work effectively with your overseas team members. Following these simple steps will help build an excellent rapport with your web developer.