Many outsourcing and offshoring firms switched to remote work during the pandemic to maintain social distancing, minimize employee health risks, and conduct business as usual.
It helped employees achieve better work life balance, and employers benefitted from reduced operational costs and increased access to a global talent pool.
Many outsourcing industry firms continue working remotely even after the pandemic, with more companies looking to transition.
But how can the outsourcing industry continue to transition to remote work successfully?
In this article, we’ll discuss six ways the outsourcing industry can successfully transition to remote work and three challenges they may face.
Additionally, we’ll highlight how Time Doctor has helped two companies monitor their remote workforce effectively.
Let’s get started.
6 effective ways outsourcing companies can transition to remote work
According to a global survey conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, 72% of office employees claim they’re well-equipped to work efficiently from home.
So instead of resisting the idea, organizations are encouraging remote work while taking steps to maintain consistent employee productivity and business profitability.
Here are some practical measures followed by the outsourcing industry while transitioning to remote work:
1. Preparing a remote work policy
Switching to remote work is a tricky process that needs clear protocols and careful planning.
Outsourcing companies should draft a comprehensive remote work policy to communicate specific organizational changes. It will allow employees and employers to stay on the same page and know what to expect going forward.
The remote work policy should specify employee working hours, communication tools, and metrics for measuring productivity.
To set up a hybrid work team, you’ll need to share clear guidelines on who will work from the office full-time and who will work from home (WFH).
You’ll need to assess what resources employees require to work from home effectively and what practices can help you efficiently manage the remote workforce.
Ultimately, the work policy should help your remote staff fulfill required tasks on a given workday, streamline the internal workflow, and foster effective teamwork.
Check out this article to learn what your remote work policy template should include.
2. Managing employee expectations
Some remote employees feel they’re expected to be available for task communication 24/7. While others believe that they can log in for fewer working hours than they’d while working from the office space.
So before moving to a remote or hybrid work environment, you’ll need to clarify, communicate, and manage employee expectations.
Further, you’ll need to address any changes in the employees’ monthly transport allowance as they’re no longer required to commute to the workspace daily. Based on your company’s team size and profit margin, you can either do away with the travel stipend or invest the amount in helping employees set up their home office.
While many employees can pay for their WiFi and laptop, the business owner should ideally pay for any software indispensable to the business’s smooth functioning.
For example, HR outsourcing firms typically use cloud-based HR software, Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS), and Employee Self Service Systems (ESS). Companies should provide their employees with paid access to such tools for proper employee management and client retention
It’s also important to remember that employees expect to be rewarded and appreciated for good work. You should reward your top-performing talent even when they’re working remotely. It can boost the motivation of your remote team and give them a sense of belonging to your organization.
3. Incorporating remote collaboration tools
The 2022 Statista report reveals that 79% of office employees used collaboration tools for telecommuting in 2021.
Collaboration and communication tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc., are essential for discussing tasks, sharing direct reports, and bringing the virtual team together.
In fact, according to a survey by Zippa, 86% of employees in management positions attribute a lack of collaboration as a crucial factor for workplace failures. On the other hand, companies that promote collaboration and communication at work have reduced employee turnover rates by 50%.
However, the collaboration tools you choose should be user-friendly, integrate with other tools that you currently use, and guarantee maximum data security.
Here are a few collaboration tools that an outsourcing firm should consider investing in:
- Project management software: It acts like a communication hub where you can plan, budget, and manage projects for multiple clients or even execute task automation processes.
- Video conferencing software: It allows you to get on an instant video call with any team member or schedule a virtual meeting with an external stakeholder. So even if you have an outsourcing company based out of the Philippines, you can get in touch with your San Francisco clients in a matter of minutes.
- Time tracking software: It lets you record your employees’ working hours, track attendance, and assess productivity levels. Moreover, if you use a feature-rich time-tracking tool like Time Doctor, you can access valuable insights on employee performance. In fact, an outsourcing company in Asia used Time Doctor to gather information about their agents’ productivity. They learned that there was a 56% decrease in unproductive time when working remotely compared to working in a traditional office.
- Remote access software: It helps the IT person access computers remotely to provide technical support for troubleshooting or updating systems.
4. Conducting frequent virtual activities
Outsourcing companies functioning remotely should organize frequent virtual team meetings to check their employees’ well-being and improve team bonding.
The Havard Business School Review report on team building found that over 25% of successful companies said they like to get together once a month, while 22% prefer every three months.
Taking a hint from the report, the human resources team should encourage everyone to participate in team-building activities to de-stress and avoid employee burnout. This way, employees are less likely to miss the energetic office environment.
You can also organize webinars addressing the dangers of overworking and the importance of unplugging to maintain a healthy work-life balance. These exercises help create a positive company culture that prioritizes the mental health of its remote workforce.
Moreover, virtual team meetings allow your virtual team to bond with their colleagues and lay the groundwork for effective teamwork. This action encourages employees to contribute more and collaborate easily, especially if you have a new person on board.
Want to improve employee engagement?
Here’s how you can make virtual meetings more fun and interactive.
5. Addressing employee concerns proactively
As their leader, you should help your team navigate the remote work transition. Share informational webinars, training modules, and work from home best practices that enable them to do their remote job more efficiently.
You can schedule a daily check-in with every team member until they settle in. Encourage them to voice their concerns or any challenges they may face with the workload.
This way, you can identify bottlenecks early on and prevent work disruption. It will also give you a broad perspective on how the workflow can be made more efficient.
If the employees face workflow issues, you should go beyond assigning tasks and support them with the right tool and resources for better, faster services.
For instance, call center outsourcing firms can implement computer-telephony integration (CTI) pop-ups to improve customer service efficiency. It integrates phone systems in the call centers with customer relationship management (CRM) applications.
So any time a customer calls, the CTI pop-ups give agents better context about the customer by displaying previous interactions through the browser.
You should research and choose tools that can support all your employees, regardless of whether they’re in the office or work from home.
6. Establishing a standard work schedule
Outsourcing companies need to recognize the importance of defining work schedules and availability hours. It helps their clients understand when they can reach out for support and urgent needs.
Moreover, a well-defined work schedule is critical to keeping the remote or distributed team connected and productive.
Many Indian outsourcing firms offer to work almost the same office hours as their clients located in faraway time zones such as Europe, Australia, and North America.
However, if the employees working remotely do not follow proper work schedules and are unavailable during your client’s peak business hours, it may lead to revenue loss. Additionally, the reputation of your outsourcing firm can suffer damage and risk losing high-end clients.
So you need to step in and create daily routines and work structures that help remote workers achieve their daily targets.
Helping employees set a working schedule that mirrors what they had before they switched to remote work is a great way to maintain consistent business performance and improve customer experience.
Next, we’ll discover the drawbacks of working in a remote environment in the outsourcing industry.
3 common challenges of transitioning to remote work for outsourcing companies
Here are three hindrances of the remote working model for the outsourcing industry:
1. Cybersecurity risks
According to Statista, about 15 million data records were exposed worldwide through data breaches during the third quarter of 2022. Furthermore, the figure increased by 37% in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Organizations are more vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches in a remote work environment than in a traditional office setup. Without company-wide security protections like firewalls and blocked IP addresses, it isn’t easy to safely transfer confidential client data.
Since your remote employee relies on home networks and personal devices for virtual work, you cannot always be sure how well-protected their home office is.
This weakness makes clients in sectors like customer support, business process, finance, healthcare, e-commerce, etc., hesitant to work with remote outsourcing companies.
However, the remote team can invest in a virtual private network (VPN) service provider. A VPN gives your team a secure and encrypted connection, so you or your clients don’t have to worry about any sensitive data being leaked or accessed through illegal means.
2. Lack of quality assurance
Monitoring the work of a distributed team based out of different locations can be tough.
Let’s take the case of a call center outsourcing company. Unlike an on site office space, managers in a remote setting cannot mentor any team member through quality assurance (QA) tools like call whispering and barging.
This drawback may lower the work quality, affect the morale of a remote worker, and bring down your company’s revenue in the long run.
To avoid this, you can use monitoring software to track the work of a remote worker. Call center agent monitoring software helps supervisors monitor employee activity by securely sharing and playing back call recordings. The oversight can help maintain customer service levels and improve customer satisfaction.
A good call center quality assurance software will consist of dashboards, scorecards, call commenting, and team-accessible call libraries to ensure that standards are met. This advanced QA software will also have call transcription and speech analytics tools built in.
Want to provide exceptional customer service?
Check out 10 effective ways to improve your call center quality assurance scores.
3. High attrition rate
Attracting and retaining top talent in a remote working setup has become a pressing issue in the outsourcing industry.
An employee in a remote job may not always feel connected with the team or be able to visualize their future in the organization.
So outsourcing firms can implement steps to improve employee engagement, encourage open communication, and build a strong company culture. For instance, HR can mandate a virtual meeting every time a new remote employee joins to make the onboarding experience more welcoming.
These practices can improve your retention rate, motivating remote workers to stick around and explore growth opportunities in your organization.
Explore seven practical strategies for employee retention.
Let’s see which leading outsourcing sectors and companies are already adopting remote work.
Top outsourcing industries transitioning to remote work
Over the past few years, the global outsourcing market has continued to grow at a rapid pace.
According to Research and Markets, the global outsourcing services market is expected to reach a total market size of $904.948 billion in 2027.
With the growth of the outsourcing provider market and challenges brought about by the pandemic, the leading outsourcing industries are adopting a remote work culture.
Here are the two main outsourcing industries that are transitioning to remote work:
1. IT outsourcing
The tech leaders in the outsourcing provider industry have begun taking advantage of the flexibility and cost saving benefits of remote work.
According to the recent remote work statistics by Washington Post, 47% of employees in computer systems design are working remotely in North America. Furthermore, 49% of employees in software publishing also work from home.
An in house position, such as a software developer or software engineer, is increasingly becoming an outsourced remote position.
For example, an IT outsourcing provider like Collabera has already adopted a remote work culture in varying capacities.
2. Business processing outsourcing (BPO)
The BPO industry has gained a reputation for being one of the fastest-growing sectors on the planet. The critical factor to the growth of the BPO industry is its willingness to adopt remote or hybrid work policies.
According to Outsource Accelerator, BPO outsourcing companies such as TTEC and Sutherland are transitioning to remote work. Each company currently offers a remote position in customer experience services, consulting, marketing, and sales.
It’s pretty clear that an outsourcing provider needs to invest in the right tool and technology for successful project management and team building.
Now let’s explore how Time Doctor can help a business owner smoothly handle the remote work transition and maintain employee productivity at its peak.
How Time Doctor helps outsourcing companies transition to remote work
Here are two examples demonstrating Time Doctor’s role in helping outsourcing firms manage their remote employees.
Client profile: A Madagascar-based company offering contact center solutions and omnichannel expertise in Customer Relationship Management and Business Process Outsourcing.
- To monitor employee productivity and empower remote workers with a tool that helps them prove their accountability.
- To maintain work transparency and access insights that show client tasks are being completed on time.
The Time Doctor solution:
- Managers could track employee work hours, derive insights, and assess accurately if remote work benefits the company.
- They could view real-time screenshots of employees’ monitors to understand which client tasks employees are working on.
- They received workday insights and reports that helped track employee availability and led to fair workload distribution. This action resulted in a 30% increase in overall productivity.
- Eufonie’s clients could see the agent’s daily task list through the Client Login Access Feature.
Overall impression: 95% of Eufonie’s employees agreed they’re happy to continue working remotely while using Time Doctor.
2. Phoenix Virtual Solutions
Client profile: A company based in the Philippines, providing offshore healthcare staffing solutions and services.
- To provide their clients comprehensive data about the offshore teams’ work efficiency and total output.
- To find the most affordable technology that would enable effective monitoring of virtual assistants and also create a secure remote working environment.
- To find a solution that positively impacted their client’s business productivity and revenue.
The Time Doctor solution:
- Time Doctor was the perfect fit due to its brand recognition and popularity in the BPO space.
- Managers could view and share productivity reports with the clients, indicating that virtual healthcare assistants perform their roles efficiently.
- They could use web and app usage reports to monitor employee time spent on different apps.
- They could accurately bill clients and streamline employee payments through Time Doctor’s accurate reporting and time-tracking data.
Overall impression: Helped the company acquire new customers and retain high-end clients through accurate reporting of the work done by remote workers.
See how Time Doctor helps outsourcing providers increase performance while keeping costs low.
While companies are presently reaping the rewards of the work from home setup, let’s explore the remote work trends to look out for in the future.
The future of remote work
Economists noted the high attrition rate in the United States during the coronavirus pandemic and termed it the Great Resignation.
The Great Resignation saw many employees quitting their jobs due to low pay, mistreatment by employers and customers during the pandemic, and a lack of advancement opportunities.
Due to this, employees are now looking for more remote work opportunities than ever before. The outsourcing industry is in the perfect position to take advantage of the vast talent pool if it continues to transition to remote work.
According to Outsource Accelerator, the globalization of the commercial and labor market will make remote work the preferable company setup in the future.
Large and small businesses that have adopted remote work policies in the past three years witnessed increased employee productivity and job satisfaction.
But each financial year comes with changes. Here are some remote work trends to look out for in 2023:
- More comprehensive employee monitoring: Employee monitoring software will evolve to improve employee productivity and product quality without infringing on the privacy of remote staff.
- Introduction of immersive collaboration tools: Collaboration tools such as Meta and Microsoft Teams are improving functionality to provide more immersive tools and team-building activities for improving employee engagement.
- Rapid employee migration: As remote work continues, employees will leave metropolitan areas such as New York and San Francisco for more affordable cities.
- Four-day working week: Countries such as the US, Scotland, Ireland, and Canada will experiment with four-day working weeks. Employees will have the same workload and salary but with more personal time for a better work-life balance.
The outsourcing firms successfully transitioning to remote work have taken specific measures, such as preparing a remote work policy and conducting frequent virtual activities to maintain employee productivity.
But transitioning to a remote work setup may come with challenges. An outsourcing company, with a distributed team, may struggle with quality assurance.
This lack of quality assurance may harm the company. If you’re willing to transition to a remote work setup, ask every office worker to track their time for greater accountability and transparency.
To this end, your organization can use Time Doctor to track employee efficiency and excel at remote work management! It will also help you analyze which employees need more support in a remote working environment.
To get started, why not sign up for Time Doctor’s 14-day free trial to make your transition to remote work a big success?
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.