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I was recently hired as an ERP Developer in a Global BPO Company (let's call it 3Ps). I have a manager and a team who's based onshore (US) while I work alone offshore (Philippines). I am their first and only offshore employee and I somehow feel quite left out and in the dark about a lot of things.

Some Examples:

  1. I am not informed about upcoming projects, project deadlines, meetings or activities.

I am often surprised about projects being implemented or systems being down because I was not included in the email. Sometimes while I'm coding everything crashes, turns out there was maintenance scheduled and i didn't get any notice. I already asked to be included in the email group but I didn't get a positive response. As per my Manager "Let's hold that for now."

  1. I am not being consulted for anything and my suggestions are not being heard.

I've seen how the onshore team works and it is way below standards and best practices. They usually go with Band-Aid solutions or shortcuts which makes everything buggy. I've already voiced numerous suggestions for Process Improvement, Development we can work on, but my emails go unanswered most of the time. I'd send a follow up, but still get no reply. I also message them via Skype sometimes, but nothing really gets done.

  1. They do not seem to look for me when I'm not online.

There are times wherein I've had a full day without conversing to anyone from my team or not getting any significant emails from them. I even tried not really working and they don't notice!

I've always been used to doing a lot of stuff since I worked as a senior developer in a global consulting company known for its High Performance, Delivered motto. But now I find myself looking for things to contribute and improve in the 3Ps company! During my stay with the High Performance company, we had the same onshore and offshore setup and it worked fine.

How can I improve the communication channels and somehow assert my value as a member of the team?

EDIT: Just to add, this company's organizational structure (or lack thereof) is quite messed up and does not have an Escalation Matrix. Also, I'm doing this now on my Working time, so you get my drift.

I can provide more examples if needed.

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    related question - workplace.stackexchange.com/q/59295/2322 – enderland Jan 5 '17 at 17:32
  • Do you also use excess capitals and highlighting in your correspondence with onshore? – paparazzo Jan 5 '17 at 17:38
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    Wow you will need to talk to your boss or supervisor about expectations and whether leaving you "out in the dark" is a good idea (I wouldnt phrase it that way but you get what I mean)..Your manager needs to know. – JonH Jan 5 '17 at 17:59
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    @addictedwithoracle - time to stop hinting and simply spell out the problem to your boss. "I can't do the job you hired me for because your on-site team is actively excluding me from their activities, and ignoring my input. I do not feel a part of this team, and cannot work under these conditions." – AndreiROM Jan 5 '17 at 18:29
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    This is one of the main reasons email stinks so bad as a collaboration tool. Everyone puts in everyone they can think of. You can make groups, but usually 1/3rd of people just can't get their head around using groups. I implemented Slack at our company for this. You can't pick-and-choose who to send to. It's either 1:1, or in a team. If you have any pull at all, try to push Slack or something similar. It solved this exact problem for us. – Wesley Long Jan 5 '17 at 18:49
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What you're experiencing is a very clear lack of team communication.

If your team / company does not currently have one, then you should suggest / push for a weekly all-hands meeting in which the team can discuss events like this.

Things like upcoming projects, known outages, etc, are things that you should all be spending some time in a recurring meeting to cover, so that you're all in the loop. This is also a good block of time for people to voice concerns, suggestions, innovation, etc.

I believe you should suggest this to your manager.

Let him know the problems that you've been having, and more importantly, what he can do to resolve those problems. A manager that knows of a problem is not nearly as helpful as a manager that knows of a problem and has a resolution in mind.

I believe a recurring all-hands / status meeting for the onshore and off-shore teams to get together and discuss things would be the best start.

If not, consider solutions to individual problems first and work your way up to things like status meetings.

For example: If there's an outage, there should be a distribution list / email list that gets notified, and it sounds like you would like to be on that list. Suggest to your manager that your work is being impacted by a lack of such a process.

Personally, I'd recommend checking into a tool called Slack. It's a lot like Skype (MS even made a competing product 'Skype Teams'), but allows for 'Channels', which are really just groups of people. You can send a message to the channel or to an individual, even if they're offline. It really combines the best of Skype and Outlook together, and is a bit like IRC. Every company I've been at in the past couple of years has loved it for team communication.

A tip for increasing your email response rate

Also, something you could do, which I do occasionally when sending emails that need a response, is open your outgoing draft email in a separate window in Outlook, so you can use some of the advanced features.

On the 'Message' tab, click the dropdown for 'Follow Up', and click 'Add Reminder'.

Next, check the box for 'Flag for Recipients' at the bottom of the dialog that opens.

This will allow you to specify a date/time that Outlook will open a reminder for the user to follow up / read / respond to your email at that date/time.

Doing this could put your message back in front of the user at a point in time that you're aware that they will not be busy, and may increase their responsiveness. You could also try setting it to request read receipts - then you might know at least that they're reading your messages.

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Creating your own daily report email:

Daily Status Report

and monthly report document: Monthly Status Report

and sending it to the manager can be very effective at making a formal merit-based case for communication. In addition, if the company has other personnel in your location, ask them about their experiences for more insight. As a last resort, combine the email with a voicemail and a text or chat message to the manager.

References

  • Thanks for your input, I'm actually already doing weekly reports, but he doesn't read it anyway. When he calls me up over Skype, he asks the same questions, which can already be answered in the email; – AddictedWithOracle Jan 31 '18 at 20:08
  • @AddictedWithOracle In terms of the reports, it's not really for now, but for later when you need to do an annual review. This way, you have a record of what you've done to help prevent any amnesia when it comes to quantifying your value in the future. – Paul Sweatte Jan 31 '18 at 21:38

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