There’s been a quiet revolution taking place in terms of how – and where – companies operate in recent years. With improving technologies, faster networks (both WiFi and fixed fiber lines), and the increasing use of cloud technologies, firms are moving more and more of their operations outside the traditional confines of the office and more into the online world.
The lockdowns and isolation caused by the recent Coronavirus only served to highlight just how far our networks and technologies have come with employees forced to work from home. However, the economic fallout of the virus has also forced companies to rethink how they employ staff – with many now actively looking at outsourcing as a viable alternative to taking on full-time workers.
How COVID may have changed the outsourcing landscape forever
The truth is, the technology has existed for some time for firms to move to the outsourcing model – it’s just many were reticent to do so. There was previously a fairly common preconception among many company bosses that not having staff directly under their nose might prove problematic. However, just as with so many other areas of our lives that have changed through Coronavirus, it seems highly likely that many companies have changed this opinion, having witnessed the widespread success of home-working through COVID. Indeed, in a recent survey, 92% of company bosses confirmed they intended to use outsourcing soon.
Also, the trend for home-working looks likely to stay with us long after the virus has passed, thereby increasing the viability and effectiveness of employing staff on a freelance basis. As firms have adapted to the concept of working remotely online, so they have also changed their opinions of the benefits offered by outsourcing to third-party companies and individuals.
The considerable advantages afforded by outsourcing parts of your firm’s operations
Different types of companies will derive different benefits from outsourcing parts of their operations; however, most firms experience at least some similar cross-board advantages as a generalization. Below are just a few of the more common reasons you should consider outsourcing parts of your firm to third-party providers:
Removes distractions so you can concentrate on more important tasks: Outsourcing allows you to concentrate on your day-to-day tasks rather than wasting time being distracted by duties that you’re not particularly skilled in. One of the most common complaints among company bosses is feeling they’re being spread too thin – and most also complain that they (or their staff) often waste time on duties that aren’t directly beneficial to the company. Using freelancers for particular tasks frees up your time and resources.
Outsourcing means you can focus on the more profitable parts of your operations: Working with freelancers lets you focus on the profitable sides of your firm rather than those that are often a financial drain with no profit to be made (e.g., accounting, payroll, etc.). The primary focus of business owners and bosses should be on finding ways to build the company, not wasted on administrative tasks. Outsourcing allows you to do exactly that – and it can also help put your firm on a level playing field with much bigger companies by helping reduce overheads. Indeed, according to Mike Savage in New Canaan, CT, who runs the virtual accounting firm 1-800Accountant, small ventures can benefit from the same tax services that big enterprises receive – a fact many smaller business owners aren’t aware of but that could help them save considerable tax costs.
The cost-effectiveness of bringing in external resources: Outsourcing is also far more cost-effective than employing workers full-time and allows you to engage staff only as and when you need them. Very few employees find themselves busy all day, every day, meaning firms frequently end up paying for resources whether they’re being used or not. With the freelance model, you only pay for what you use.
Reducing operating costs: Handing over aspects of your company can remove the need to invest in costly infrastructures (for example, setting up an internal IT network). Using the same example of IT, if you outsource your digital services, you’ll also negate the considerable upkeep and maintenance costs – plus, you’ll benefit from having professional IT security provision and backup services.
Access to the very best talent and resources: By outsourcing, you’ll be able to pick and choose from the very best resources and services available – and call on them as and when you need them rather than paying for them to be there full-time. The wages expected by the best freelancers to work on permanent contracts are often far beyond the budget of companies (particularly Small to Medium-sized Enterprises – SMEs). However, by employing staff on a freelance basis, all companies can access the best and most talented professionals regardless of available funds.
Your company can work 24/7 (and often 365): Because many freelancers are based abroad, you’ll be able to have tasks being worked on as you sleep. In addition, the hotbed freelancer areas like India and Asia are probably in a different time zone to your firm, meaning you’ll have a fresh load of work to review each morning before getting on with your responsibilities.
Adding extra skills or services to your base operations: Outsourcing will often put you in touch with individuals and firms with skills that complement your existing operations but which you might not have considered offering in the past. For example, if a web design company was to look at outsourcing some of their programming services, they may find they end up working with a company (or an individual programmer) that can also offer added design skills or app development services. Very often, bringing in external workers sees companies expand into entirely new and different markets – without the risk of having to employ specialist staff full-time to make the change.
Making your business more responsive and agile to change: The recent Coronavirus taught us many things, not least of which was the importance of firms to be agile in times of change. Almost without exception, the companies that made it through the virus the best (and, in some cases, even profited) were those that were able to adapt quickly to the changing landscape caused by COVID – both in terms of moving their operations online and also how quickly they could upscale/downscale service provision. In addition, working with freelancers allows you to change your business model, reducing overheads at the drop of a hat or bringing in additional resources as conditions dictate.