These three offshoring trends could define Australian workplaces in 2017

Email a step closer to the grave, novel engagement techniques for millennial staffers and a focus on managing remote teams.

These are offshoring trends of 2017 and beyond that are likely to impact businesses, according to the CEO of national offshore solutions specialist Diversify, and former Big 4 HR and people manager, Angela Vidler.

“The greatest challenges facing businesses are the global labour market, how to increase revenue without blowing out fixed costs, and maintaining an engaged and empowered workforce,” Vidler said.

“From these challenges we see trends emerging that are changing the makeup of your average Australian office.”

Trend 1: Goodbye email and office hours

With the growing number of millennials in the workforce, “old” technology such as email is losing favour as young people prefer instant messaging and a range of live chat tools such as Slack, Campfire and Yammer.

“These tools make it far easier to be collaborative. And it’s not just millennials moving in this direction. We’ve all been on the end of an unproductive email chain, and workers of all ages are recognising the inefficiencies of email,” she said.

Changing workforce demographics has also seen a rise in millennials working part-time because work is not seen as the defining element of their lives.

Business leaders will need to provide flexibility in working arrangements to accommodate this change.

Trend 2: Cubicle karaoke, chopstick M&Ms to the Mannequin Challenge, whatever it takes for employee engagement

“More than ever, smart companies are focusing on improving the employee experience, to stay competitive in the job market. Younger employees have a different perspective on their career. They don’t want a hard slog, they want their workplace to be fun,” Vidler said.

“We’ve seen everything from cubicle karaoke or a flash mob of a Friday afternoon, to collecting M&Ms from a bowl with chopsticks used to raise morale and decrease office stress. Of course, there are less out-there techniques for maintaining employee engagement (including acknowledging efforts and strengthening health and wellness programs), it’s whatever works within the culture of your organisation,” she said.

In between daily tasks, Diversify recently filmed their own version of the Mannequin Challenge

Trend 3: Flexible workforces – so many options

There’s no denying the growth of the “blended workforce”, a mix of full-time permanent employees, part-timers and freelancers. Forbes magazine recently cited the blended workforce as the key HR issue for the coming year.

“The growth of freelancing in many industries, along with a move by employers to allow trusted employees to work from home, makes for a very disperse workplace,” Vidler said.

“Whether people are hot-desking, or working from home, or working while travelling, it highlights that one of the critical management components for businesses is the ability to manage remote teams.

“When you add to this a growth in companies offshoring parts of their workforces, managers face many challenges in creating cohesive, engaged teams,” she said.

Vidler said it was important for businesses to have cost-effective, sustainable workforce solutions so they are better equipped to scale up operations and allowing local employees to focus on growth-related not process-driven activities.

This is the focus of offshoring, as opposed to outsourcing. With offshoring, the offshore employee is a true part of the business and identifies as a team member, with the employer playing a role (often through a third party such as Diversify) in recruiting and managing the employee to integrate them into the business.

“Success is a mix of the right people, right skills and right culture, connected by the right technology enabling a global workforce,” Vidler said.

“Adding offshore teams to your workforce is one way businesses can grow revenues without increasing fixed costs. This enables a business to hire very skilled offshore employees who are provided full support in a serviced office.”

Diversify is always looking ahead and has long considered offshoring as a major trend of the future. If you are interested in making it part of your business strategy, drop us a line today to get started.

This article was originally written by Nye Longman and appears in Business Review Australia.


The greatest challenges facing businesses today

The business environment in which we operate is dynamic; with the only constant being change. Adapting to this change is critical if businesses are to remain successful in this highly competitive environment; innovate or die. With this in mind, I wanted to share some of the key business challenges that I feel pose the biggest threat to businesses, of all sizes, at this current stage.

These are all business challenges that I have had to face in my role as a CEO of a growing Australian business and ones that we have had to meet head on to remain competitive.

Global labour market

The global labour market is now more accessible than ever with the continued breakdown of geographical communication barriers. More and more organisations are taking advantage of the competitively priced global labour market. As identified in a recent Deloitte report, the continued rise of offshoring has been driven by largely economic factors as it offers more competitive price points for the same service levels.

Businesses of all sizes are able to access talent for many skilled and unskilled roles at a fraction of the cost of local employees. Although this is not the most significant driver for offshoring, reduced costs allow businesses to reinvest the funds into other areas of the business.

The question you should be asking yourself is, are you leveraging the power of the global labour market? Are your competitors accessing it?

Growing revenues without increasing fixed costs

Cost has always been the root cause of many business challenges. The ultimate goal of any business is to grow without increasing your fixed costs. This is one of many significant business challenges when you take into account how competitive the global business market is. Bearing in mind the costs of adding local labour to service your desired growth, providing operational support in the form of office space, IT and human resources support, while maintaining fixed costs can be a challenge.

Offshore workforces are just one way businesses can grow revenues without increasing fixed costs. Your business can hire highly-skilled offshore employees who are then provided full support in a serviced office. This, in turn, reduces your overheads as your business is simply liable for a monthly, fixed service fee – it’s as transparent as it gets.

Empowering your local employees

It’s an amazing statistic, but in a recent Harvard Business Review article into employee productivity, it was identified that employees can spend, on average, 41% of their time on activities that offer little value and could easily be performed by others. The article states that “we instinctively cling to tasks that make us feel busy and thus important, while our bosses, constantly striving to do more with less, pile on as many responsibilities as we’re willing to accept”.

Employees that are dragged down into low value work are, in my experience, more easily distracted and less engaged. One way to overcome this is to identify the low-value tasks and consider offshoring them to cost-effective labour solutions. Not only does this allow your local, and more costly, employees to focus on high value tasks, it empowers them. They’re able to focus on the tasks that matter, while low-level and process intensive tasks that would usually take up their time are performed cost-effectively offshore.

Adding capability

The local labour market is incredibly competitive; especially with digital and technology roles. As a result, many skillsets and capabilities that are required to effectively service clients are unattainable. They’re either unattainable due to high local wage costs or due to the lack of a sufficiently skilled talent pool.

This may mean not expanding your capabilities to meet the market or having to source expensive contractors. Capabilities such as data analytics, application and website development can take your business to the next level. Although these roles are hard to come by locally, the offshore talent pool is vast, and of course highly skilled.

You can add the capability you need to keep up with constant change.

Expanding Flexibility

We all live in the age of now – customers want instant responses and service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Businesses need to meet this need in order to continue being competitive. With the continued advancement of social media and increase in customers using online channels to interact, businesses need to adapt.

Doing this locally may not be possible, however, many businesses are using offshore teams to service customer requests and queries 24/7. Businesses can add social media monitors, customer service staff members and online chat capability to support this need without impacting significantly on the bottom line.

Leverage the power of offshore resources to take your business to the next level

Ultimately, companies are facing more business challenges than ever in trying to remain competitive. There are many approaches that can be adopted to tackle this change head on and one of these is via the use of offshore resources.

Offshore teams are now more viable than ever – however, there is a perception out there that offshoring is difficult to implement and manage. We want to debunk this myth which is why we’ve launched ‘The Art of Offshoring’ – a four-part educational series aimed at taking you through the entire offshoring process – from learning what it actually is right through to implementing and managing your team!

Diversify is currently conducting an industry first survey into the state of offshoring in Australia 2016. This survey aims to examine the perceptions of offshoring in general and understand whether or not businesses who have adopted an offshore approach have achieved success.

 

Complete the survey today


How to Choose an Offshore Staff Provider (or BPO)

If you are thinking about engaging offshore staff it pays to take some time when picking your BPO service provider. Things to consider include:-

Industry specialisation of offshore staff

If your provider knows and understands the industry you work in this will help a lot. Industry specialisation helps ensure they:

  • understand the type of work you want done
  • have access to staff with the right qualifications and/or experience
  • have a suitable technology platform
  • can provide ongoing operational assistance, training and support in a way consistent with your industry norms and needs.

Location

The location of your service provider will significantly affect the quality of offshore staff they can recruit for you.

If you require people with good qualifications and/or experience, you will need a provider located in one of Manilas’ business districts. On the other hand, if university qualifications are not a priority and you plan to train the staff yourself you will have access to lower cost staffers outside of Manila. Having a provider in the wrong location may greatly hamper your ability to recruit the right offshore staff.

The quality of infrastructure also varies greatly within the Philippines. You are far more likely to have reliable electricity, internet, and transport within rather than outside of Manila. These may not seem like significant issues in Australia but they certainly are in Manila. Also, make sure you ask your provider:

  • do they emergency back-up power?
  • are their premises subject to flooding?
  • do they have a back-up internet service provider?
  • are they close to staff transport?

Some providers source staffers who work from home. It is important to understand if this is the case as many quality and security issues come into play with this offering.

Australian presence

A provider with a local Australian presence will help greatly when you come to roll out your offshore plans. Everything from negotiating your agreement through to training your local staff and resolving the inevitable issues which will arise is made much easier when your provider has a local presence.

Extra services

Not all providers offer the same level of service. Some do little more than provide a serviced office with recruitment support. It is important to understand the level of additional services you require. Additional services can include:-

  • Assistance with IT setup including data security plans, data location and connectivity solutions.
  • Human resource management assistance including development of position descriptions and KPIs and conducting regular performance reviews.
  • Assistance with day to day operational issues and monthly reporting.
  • Training and workforce development plans.
  • Training for your Australian staff.
  • Staff engagement and retention strategies and activities.

Customised

Some offshoring providers make you comply with their processes and procedures. Others customise their solution around what you want. Customised solutions can include things like developing an employment agreement specific to your needs, agreeing and implementing performance metrics and customising the training and workforce development program for your offshore staff.

Employee engagement and retention strategy

The biggest issue by far to think about when engaging your provider is staff retention.

Many providers have offshore staff attrition rates in excess of 5% per month.

For an offshoring strategy to be truly effective, low staff turnover is crucial. To achieve this, the BPO must have high-quality staff-friendly facilities, a good reputation in the market, and a properly thought through engagement plan supported by an appropriate budget. The best people for the job are attracted by these things.

Contracts

Many providers look to lock their clients into long term contracts. This is not necessary and is not desirable from a client perspective.

Diversify offers all these services to get you started on your offshoring experience. Contact us today if you are interested in implementing an offshore strategy for your business.