From offshore to onsite – corporate India vs corporate UK

from offshore to onsite

2013-2019 was the time I was working full time in India and I was a typical corporate associate. Yup, I was a common “yes, sir” girl searching for appreciation, recognition, appraisals, promotion and day to day race. I vividly remember the first days in the Indian office, my excitement about getting something extraordinary compared to my peers in Europe. I was truly proud of my modern cubicle, office laptop, company ID card and all that perks like free drinks, corporate canteen, gym and library facilities everyone gets joining the company. The rat and money race increased significantly when I was offered an onsite opportunity in the UK in 2018. Being already in India – a foreign country to me, I went from offshore to onsite, I got the chance many people in India dream about: to go abroad, to earn in foreign currency, to post your new fancy DP on social media. Let me give you then a feel for what going onsite is like, let’s start at the beginning of the process.

Onsite Delivery Model – corporate way of IT project delivery.

First and foremost. Let’s all be clear what is this famous Onsite Delivery Model. When an IT company, let’s say in Europe, wants to cut their costs, they usually decide to outsource some of the processes to countries with low labor costs. Out of those, different delivery models are realized and offshore-onsite is one of them. Offshore, when employees work in an outsourced country (meaning vendor’s site; in my example India) – onsite – when vendors send their qualified employees to the client’s site. So if you work with one of outsourcing giant companies in India like TCS, Wipro, Infosys most probably you will hear about onsite very soon. Or even you already heard about it before joining day.

Who can go onsite? And the process to make it happen.

Sending someone to the client’s site is very much dependent on the project you work on. Some people are indeed lucky to get such a chance joining their first project, but for most, it takes time, effort and sometimes little of corporate politics. There has to be a genuine business reason to raise such a request, planned and confirmed budget and a resource willing to go. So I would say, it’s a mix of luck, suitable moment and skills, that makes a person an onsite nominee. Also, character and soft skills play a crucial role, as at onsite, most of the people would be interacting with clients.

The process might vary from company to company, internal regulations will define the onsite assignment process but logic, integrity with the law, legal compliance will be the same everywhere. How did it work for me then? Before it all started, apart from my qualifications and approval from the project, I needed to fulfill a couple of requirements: high annual appraisal rating, language test, 2 days onsite readiness program participation and at least one year in the company in India itself open the gates for further discussions. After that – budget allocation, approvals, visa and work permit (I don’t need any of it for EU so this task was beyond me), travel date decision and flight ticket along with accommodation. For Indians, the entire process to get a visa appointment itself in the respective embassy is quite hectic. Document collection, approvals, getting a suitable date for appointment takes time – so it has to be planned well. Sometimes getting one supervisor’s approval puts you on an undefined hold. Not mentioning the future queue for visa stamping.

from offshore to onsite

What happens when you finally get your chance?

As you are under onsite assignment program and law in the overseas country you need to follow working hours, discipline and work norms at client location. Setup your insurance, taxation, and immigration clearance (ie residence permit) as soon as possible. Get a room/or flat and you’re are mostly settled.

  • You will be getting your deputation salary in local currency and your basic Indian salary component at the same time.
  • Depending on the city you landed, you may also receive Benefit / City Compensatory Allowance (it is given based on the cost of living in different cities).
  • You will need to fill a tax return in 2 countries.
  • In some of the countries, you will be allowed to work from home.
  • Usually no need to work in shifts.
  • You will be covered under the Private Health insurance scheme.
  • Onsite assignment takes usually 2 years (to allow employee rotation). This may be subject to review and it may be required from you to curtail or extend your stay for a further period.
  • You will receive a Forex card for initial expenses and the amount of money you got will be deducted from your foreign salary later on.
  • Initial expenses like transportation from the airport, accommodation (first 7 days), food expenses will be covered by the company (most probably you will need to collect bills for the same).
  • Working office time is shorter than in India.

Keep in mind there are a couple of things you definitely should not and you mustn’t do being at onsite as well. 

  • You shall not seek any change in the status of residence in the overseas country you work on onsite assignment.
  • Commit any serious breach.
  • Commit any criminal or civil acts.

Some useful resources, links I used during the first weeks in the UK

To get information about NINo, taxation, immigration, Brexit: GOV.UK

To search for flat, accommodation, shared rooms: OpenRent (no one-month rent commission), Rightmove, Zoopla, On the Market

To search for second-hand things in the UK: shpock

Overseas work opportunity, blessing or curse?

For European girl with – what I thought that time better – Western understanding of work and the world, working in India based company, with Indians who have a different approach to life and professional responsibilities, shifted my perception in many ways. The longer I professionally mingled with Asians the more Indian I became, the more I was able to understand how Indian culture defines the working environment and how to speak, act and make things happen. The more being unpunctual didn’t surprise me and the more I was able to justify their behavior.

Quite the contrary I felt going back to Europe after many years spent in India. European corporate culture shock hit me badly and made me almost freeze my productivity for a couple of weeks. I realized I became a stranger to the culture I was raised in and that it all slowly turned out more distant to me. I became in-betweener to many things I experienced starting from European casual style to eating habits. To add to this, I was not able to find much of Indianness I loved in India in my Indian colleagues in the UK. Client pressure makes people less sensitive, more money-oriented and tougher in day-to-day cooperation. I got culture shock being back to Europe, and culture shock going back to India. The same feelings of disorientation will get any onsite returnee once the onsite assignment is over. Get ready for it.

Where’s the cat that gets the cream?

Going onsite should ideally give satisfaction to both sides. The client gets from offshore the quality development projects with typically 24/7 support services. You, an onsite employee, additional corporate perks, exposure to new culture, taste independent life, explore possibilities to travel and see new places.

For me personally this experience was too bitter and disappointing. I resigned from the company eventually once I noticed my family life suffered. Work-life balance being at on-site and fulfilling professional and family responsibilities is quite tough. Juggling leaves between bank holidays, school breaks or home visits for family events was too stressful for me. So dear on-site dreamer – think twice before final decision as sooner than later you will start missing your family, friends, festivals. Is it really worth? Does being on-site make the person really successful? Up to your decision.

 I would love to hear your comments on this! Have you ever gone for on-site assignment? How was your experience? Do you have any more tips or a question that I haven’t answered? Thank you very much for reading this article. I am curious if you have/had any experience of yours? Any comments? – please share your experience. And if you liked the article – share it, click “Like it” and subscribe to my newsletter.