Cultural Nearshoring: Bridging the Gap in IT

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In the world of IT nearshoring services, the cultural gap between people, and therefore, organizations, is a common challenge. Despite the differences between cultures, one thing remains essential: communication.

As in all outsourcing partnerships, especially in nearshoring, communication plays a vital role as an agent of change, as it should.

For organizations who seek to improve efficiency by extending their internal IT team via an outsourcing solution, enhancing communication and collaboration is a top concern, and culture is the starting point.

When researching who will be the right outsourcing partner, it’s expected that key questions arise: can the differences in cultures become a block when combining an in-house team with an outsourced one? It’s no secret that remote teams can help bridge the cultural gap thanks to their many advantages. Yet, these benefits are not without a big risk: partnering with an inexperienced provider with little practice or knowledge with cultural nearshoring.

As important as it is, there’s no step-by-step guide on how to tackle cultural differences when outsourcing. So, what do you need to know?

From the Top…

What Is Cultural Nearshoring?

Cultural nearshoring involves collaborating with teams in neighbouring countries where language barriers are minimal. This proximity enhances communication and reduces cultural differences, fostering similar operational habits.

Objectively, by stripping the communication barrier on how each team approaches their work and communicates, the business itself has a greater chance of creating a cohesive and all-connected work environment focused on optimization and delivery. In other words, with the support of an experienced outsourced team, you’ll be able to turn the out-put knob to a hundred percent.

However, cultural nearshoring has its challenges. Clients and providers must come together from the very start, and recognize that people are the heart of all projects. This means understanding the existent of contrasting workplace culture behaviours.

Understanding your IT Outsourcing Team’s Culture

People from different cultures bear different behaviours and work methodologies. They can differ in languages, processes, and communication styles, among others. Learning how your international counterparts operate becomes critical, as it will put aside any chances of misunderstandings between you and your provider from the get-go.

Although a nearshore approach focuses on adaptability to the client’s work system or practices, it’s important to note that some obstacles are difficult to circumvent. For example, in France, workers are protected by a Right to Disconnect Law, which stipulates that most French professionals are not obligated to reply to emails that come in after hours. This sensible and logical measure was adopted to protect employees from being overworked. Yet, it could be a conflicting issue down the road if an outsourcing client has different standards or work expectations.

In Sweden, coffee breaks, also known as fika, are culturally embedded as they seed productivity. It gives the working force an opportunity to relax. Some companies implement a formal fika with breaks at 9 am, 3 pm, and some, more frequently. There are other working forces who are even encouraged to take midday naps, such as in Japan. The same goes for holidays.

At the end of the day, working with an extended outsourced team might not match completely your specific workplace structure or culture, but it doesn’t mean it won’t live up to your expectations.

To get to know more about how nearshore development can change your internal team, check out our article: Why nearshore development is the best solutions

The Benefits of a Shared Culture

One of the significant advantages, which not only provides an ease of travel to meet your outsourcing partner but brings teams closely together during similar working hours. This means teams can organize immediate meetings for updates or urgent calls to fix a problem. Alongside this, is a common benefit. If both companies share the same schedule, weekly meetings can be secured easily, as opposed to one party having to use time in their early morning or evening to trade information.

It’s no secret that the work culture of each country impacts how companies communicate with each other. As in all business relations, interpreting a message incorrectly can be disastrous, affecting the direction of the project and the business partnership. With nearshoring, working with a partner culturally adapted to different markets and with a high English-proficiency, such as Portugal, makes the work between teams faster, intuitive, and without restraints

The 2023 EF English Proficiency Index ranks Portugal 8th out of 113 countries among the top non-native English-speaking countries, showcasing its very high proficiency and suitability for nearshoring.

Ultimately, shared culture is undoubtedly one of the biggest advantages of nearshoring. Providing smoother and more efficient communication, while ensuring your project is created quicker and with greater quality, with minimal miscommunication dilemmas along the way.

Overcoming the Cultural Challenges of IT Nearshoring

Despite its advantages, cultural nearshoring comes with challenges. Clients and providers must acknowledge the importance of cultural differences from the start. Recognizing and respecting these differences ensures a smoother integration process.

Here are some strategies and insights to help overcome these challenges:

1. Cultural Awareness Training

Investing in cultural awareness training for both in-house and nearshore teams can significantly reduce misunderstandings and foster a collaborative environment. Training should cover key aspects such as communication styles, workplace etiquette, and decision-making processes.

For example, understanding that Portuguese professionals value formal business communication can help set the tone for effective interactions. However, it is important to note that the level of formality may vary depending on the context and the relationship between the parties involved.

2. Effective Communication Channels

Utilize tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom to facilitate real-time communication and collaboration. Regular virtual meetings and updates can ensure that all team members are on the same page. Additionally, using project management tools like Jira or Trello can help track progress and keep everyone aligned.

3. Building Relationships and Trust

Encourage face-to-face interactions through occasional visits and team-building activities. Understanding and respecting cultural differences can help build rapport and trust.

4. Adapting to Local Work Practices

Understanding and adapting to local work practices can mitigate potential conflicts. For instance, in Portugal, it’s common to have a more relaxed approach to work-life balance. Recognizing these practices and integrating them into the project management approach can prevent friction. Allowing flexibility and respecting local holidays and working hours can lead to a more motivated and productive team.

5. Clear Expectations and Deliverables

Detailed project plans, milestones, and regular performance reviews can help ensure that both parties are aligned. This clarity can prevent miscommunication and ensure that the project stays on track.

6. Cultural Integration Programs

Implement cultural integration programs to blend the company cultures of both the client and the nearshore provider. These programs can include exchange visits, cultural exchange workshops, and shared social activities. This integration fosters a sense of unity and shared purpose, enhancing teamwork and collaboration.

7. Monitoring and Feedback

Regularly monitor the progress of the nearshoring collaboration and solicit feedback from both in-house and nearshore teams. Use this feedback to make continuous improvements and address any emerging cultural issues promptly. This proactive approach ensures that any potential problems are resolved before they escalate.


Cultural nearshoring offers numerous benefits, including enhanced communication, reduced miscommunication, and improved project efficiency. By choosing a nearshoring partner with a shared culture and high English proficiency, organizations can bridge the cultural gap and achieve their outsourcing goals.

Ultimately, the success of nearshoring hinges on understanding and adapting to cultural differences. Embracing these differences can lead to more efficient and productive collaborations, ensuring the delivery of high-quality IT solutions.

Incorporating these insights into your nearshoring strategy can significantly improve your chances of success. Stay informed, communicate effectively, and choose the right partners to maximize the benefits of cultural nearshoring.

Ready to leverage the benefits of nearshoring for your IT projects?

Book a brief meeting with our team, at Nearshore Portugal, to learn how we can help bridge the cultural gap and boost your business. Let’s achieve success together.

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