The coronavirus global pandemic has completely changed the way we do business, forever. Suddenly, older priorities have been pushed aside and new ones are being formed. New, novel working paradigms are being set and strategies for off-shore and on-shore are being changed.
According to Gartner, the offshore outsourcing market has been relatively stable in the past few years, but with the pandemic, there is likely to be a change in all forms of outsourcing. Organizations had been using a mix of onshore, nearshore, and offshore resources, and they are likely to rely more on remote working in the coming months. They are keen on promoting the work-from-home model for all their employees, so they do not have to travel to work.
The COVID 19 pandemic caused an unprecedented economic fallout, and nearshoring IT outsourcing was also deeply affected by the crisis. However, the new normal that people are slowly getting used to has changed realities tremendously. Still, many of the strategies can be planned in such a way that they turn advantageous to IT outsourcing.
Even though outsourcing may prove to be beneficial, it is very important for companies to assess the pros, cons, and risks when they plan their options and strategies and anticipate scenarios that may or may not work in their favor. The companies can also plan their strategies in such a way that they can recognize the key signposts where they need to take timely action and turn situations in their favor.
It might take a few months and perhaps, a year or two for the world to wade out from the crisis caused by the pandemic. As the darkness slowly lifts, it would be imperative for companies to come armed with nifty solutions that can help them bring out a balance between reality and customer satisfaction. Companies have been partially functioning through the lockdown in various capacities, and as we move through different installments of these lockdowns, you can develop a new ecosystem that can help bring normalcy, and even, the expected revenue growth.
It would be a good idea to look into a recent MIT report to understand how employees and even companies are shifting to the remote work scenario. According to a survey from April 1-5, 2020, about 34.1% reported they were commuting to work in the previous weeks but are now working from home. And 11.8% report being laid-off or furloughed in the last 4 weeks.
Image Credit: John J. Horton
The MIT survey also revealed that younger people have switched to the work from home option, and they are more likely to continue to work remotely when compared to older people. The survey would definitely give you insight if you are looking to hire people for your onshore-offshore-nearshore teams based on where they are likely to work.
Keeping all these things in mind, let’s look at a few strategies that would help you travel through this novel conundrum, chart new policies, discover new strategies, and come up with business policies that were never in the cards before. This is all a watch, learn, and execute scenario.
With more people working from offshore locations, cybersecurity should be heightened to a whole new level. Even though you are partnering with different companies from across the world, have detailed discussions with them on how you can keep your data safe. Encourage their teams to enable website filtering on their anti-virus software and download information only from trusted media sites.
Many attacks are likely to happen from video conferencing websites and your employees have to be aware of issues like meeting bombing, unauthorized attendees, and malicious chat links. Encourage your employees who are working in remote locations to use only updated versions of video conferencing apps and use only the security features that are part of the application.
Whether you are following the off-shore, near-shore or on-shore strategy with your teams, one way to combat the COVID 19 pandemic and increase productivity would be to embrace hybrid infrastructure. People are beginning to accept a new kind of work culture that induces the adoption of hybrid infrastructure because focussing on one aspect of technologies would just not be enough anymore.
Millions of people work remotely and when all of them go online, you can expect the internet to go crazy. Everybody wants higher bandwidths, excellent technologies to support them, and most of them have zero tolerance for performance issues or outages. Companies have begun to integrate 5G PCS into their remote workplace setups and you may have to diversify from the single provider model to a multi-cloud option. To do this, you may have to examine your entire strategy and be prepared to go down the path of a new reality.
Ask yourself a few questions while you do this:
The uncertainties caused by the COVID 19 situation have placed many companies in huge distress. Some find that their resilient business strategies do not work anymore. That’s when you need to change your strategies a bit and have a contingency plan with your offshore team to make this successful.
One of the major actions in a contingency plan would be to prioritize the safety of your own people who are working abroad. You have to make sure they don’t have to come in contact with people in infected areas, so there has to be some sort of information backup, documentation processes, and support communications to ensure work isn’t disrupted. Many companies lean towards cloud-based solutions and mostly, hybrid infrastructure, as mentioned above.
It is also imperative to have a remote working strategy as part of your contingency plan. In order to craft an effective strategy, first chart all the common issues that are likely to happen with remote working. As team members cannot fly in and out as and when the situation demands, it is important for them to have remote tools with impeccable technological competence so there wouldn't be a delay or wastage of time. Create plans that would allow for business continuity even in times of lockdown and containment.
With offshore teams, it is understandable that there would be a lot of pressure, both for the company and for the team. You cannot let a deadly virus impact productivity, so a good idea would be to invest in a working model that promises profitability. Apart from that, it is also important to have the right offshore firm with experience in managing a diverse range of projects, and the capability to have the best technology to make them all successful.
Analytics acts as a modern sextant because of its problem solving and predictive capabilities. With analytics, you can manage a number of tasks that businesses need. You can forecast demand, target support services to all the employees who are likely to require them, identify disruptions in the supply-chain channel, and determine the success of strategies devised to mitigate the crisis. You can rely on analytics to create both long-term and short-term strategies to improve business continuity and be prepared in the time of uncertainty.
Additionally, you can also combine the capabilities of analytics and AI to plan your work across boundaries. This would help you collect important data on COVID 19, and use the same for visualizations for developing mathematical models and neural networks.
Going through analytics would also give you a chance to plan the next step when your partners in other countries cease to function. You need to have an action plan in place in the event of solvency. This will determine how partners would continue to supply their services if they cease functioning, and if they cannot, who else would.
Here are some strategies suggested by Gartner.
Image Credit: Gartner
While you strategize and plan, it is very important to have a plan that would take your entire business online. How would you run your business if you had to close your entire office? When most of your employees are shifting to remote working, you can shift your sales strategy online, and keep the brick and mortar office to a bare minimum.
For example, in Wuhan, the Chinese cosmetics company, Lin Qingxuan shut down 40% of its stores, but they moved all their business online, and they began to engage their customers entirely through online platforms. Their online sales increased enormously, and they crossed 200% more sales during the lockdown period, according to Harvard Business Review.
With touchless workplaces initiated by the global concept of social distancing comes the biggest challenge. Your teams across boundaries have to follow the rules of their respective governments and inculcate the norms and rules that come with social distancing. So, until the pandemic subsides, they will have to regularly sterilize workspaces, install touchless elevators, and maintain a six-feet distance. In your business strategy, you may need to have offices with automated power switches and door handles, and biometric access wherever possible.
Ever since the lockdown, training employees has been deeply affected. It is important to nurture your teams to help maintain business continuity. With long periods of quarantine, businesses should have some sort of strategies to conduct the training without fail. It is also important to include motivational sessions so they don’t feel depressed. Include online training and motivational sessions along with other tactical steps to boost team productivity. These are challenging times, and looking after your employees’ emotional well-being is equally important.
With remote working, communication shouldn’t take a backseat. It is a two-way street that can be really quite motivational. Include open communications with your business strategy because this would encourage them to have a responsible mindset, rather than fear and panic. Involve them in all the decision-making processes even though they are all working from home, and you will be surprised at all the resilient solutions they are likely to come up with.
Several businesses had anticipated the lockdown and were prepared. Do you fall into that category? These businesses saw ahead and created a crisis management team with an IT enablement action plan to help their employees work from home.
They ensured business continuity by helping their employees set up their work stations at home, using previously built and tested technologies to make the transition smooth. They strengthened weak areas in various processes and educated their employees on troubleshooting minor issues that may arise.
Similarly, when you have teams working in other countries, have a strategy in place that would equip them as well.
While the above-mentioned strategies are important to enhance productivity, many companies do not invest time to understand potential disruptions until there actually is one. Tabletop simulations would help them go through these situations and plan for protocols in different stages of workplace planning. While surviving the crisis, you don’t have to be months behind in your productivity, but rather, right at the forefront, and beyond all competition.
Guide your team through impeccable leadership, and it will reverberate through, making your organization the best to emerge from the current crisis.
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