How Companies Benefit From An Offshore Team

How Companies Benefit From An Offshore Team

Despite numerous technological advances, offshoring still has negative connotations. Some consumers see offshoring as being provided low level services. This often depends on the country offering these services and its reliability in maintaining quality services. Some service providers still use traditional strategies as well. They are more focused on reaching required metrics rather than focusing on the quality of their services. 

Why Offshoring Is A Viable Strategy

Considering today’s global situation, these are all legitimate concerns. It’s understandable for people to criticise companies that offshore their business operations. However, most need to recognise that businesses face unseen challenges they may not be aware of or fully understand. 

When boiled down to its core, there are four primary reasons why companies choose to offshore. Let’s take a look at them.

Offshoring Is Cost Effective

Businesses are constantly seeking ways to maintain a stable source of revenue. At the same time, they have to sustain their daily operations to stay competitive. However, as we’ve seen this year, there are unpredictable fluctuations in the economy to consider. To that end, most companies cannot just maintain local costs for certain roles. 

Quality CSRs are essential for any company to thrive.

That is when offshoring becomes an enticing option for them. Consider for a moment the cost of hiring a local customer service representative. In Australia, their annual salary costs an average of $50,000 a year. Compared to an offshored CSR in the Philippines, their salaries are almost a quarter of this price. This also does not translate into a lowered quality of work. Businesses, therefore, can redirect their resources by reducing some overhead costs. Their local workforce can then focus more on their core competencies, increase productivity, and prioritise revenue-generating tasks.

Offshoring Lets Them Stay Competitive

Earlier, we mentioned the need for businesses to stay competitive. For that to happen, they need to increase efficiency, enhance operations and innovate on delivering quality service. Offshoring allows companies to offer high value services such as 24/7 customer support and provide effective service level tasks with flexible work schedules.

In our interconnected world, businesses of all sizes are competing on a global stage. This means that innovation is becoming a major factor in determining success. The constant demand for efficient, personalised customer service for instance makes it more challenging to stay relevant.

Offshoring Addresses Skill Shortage

It cannot be argued how alarming unemployment is today. The declining number of available opportunities globally is often why most people disagree with offshoring. However, despite this situation, several industries are struggling with how to overcome the skill shortages. 

Through offshoring, companies discovered that they could hire a team of highly qualified staff in countries like the Philippines. They discovered valuable, motivated team members ready to take on functions like back-office tasks often overlooked by local employees.

Offshoring Provides High Quality Work

Companies must innovate on how to have an efficient process flow within their business. It allows them to enhance the quality of their products and services offered. Through modern technology, they now have full control over their offshore team, enabling them to ensure quality standards are reached. 

As noted earlier, offshoring back-office tasks is valuable to any company. Keep in mind however the quality of offshored services may vary from each country. Depending on the goals your business aims to achieve, it is best to look at which country can provide you the best team. China, for instance, is king when it comes to production and manufacturing. On the other hand,, offshoring customer service representatives to the Philippines continues to be ideal. The talent and skill that the global workforce offers are irreplaceable. They can be effectively harnessed by companies to reach their long-term goals.

Redefining Offshoring

Offshoring, like any other strategy, is not a perfect approach. If not paired with the right partner, it can be prone to abuse and used just for cutting costs. Most of all, offshoring should not be seen as a replacement for your current, local staff. Instead, it should be used to augment your current team for the further growth of your business. That is why this strategy needs to be carefully customised and tailor-fit with the company’s needs without disrupting ongoing operations.

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After the Pandemic: The Philippine BPO Industry

After the Pandemic: The Philippine BPO Industry

When the COVID-19 outbreak first hit the Philippines in March, many were uncertain what would become of the current normal and how it would impact many industries. It was understandable back then to have doubts if the economy would recover once the nationwide lockdown was over. Regardless of the several adverse effects in the Philippine BPO industry, it is all but certain to recover in the coming months.

Frontliners of the Economy

Empty streets of the business district of Makati city during the lockdown in Metro Manila. PHOTO:Reuters

A select number of industries operated during the first few weeks of the quarantine in Metro Manila. These were mostly private establishments that provided essential goods and services, especially to the frontliners tasked with curbing the virus. These establishments worked at a minimal capacity in Extended Community Quarantine (ECQ) areas and at full capacity in places with more relaxed restrictions.

In that time, BPO companies operated during the early stages of the quarantine period. However, they needed to either provide accommodation to their employees or transition into a Work-From-Home model.  Many industry players, including Diversify, quickly implemented their contingency plans to ensure continuity in their operations. At the same time, they did so without compromising the health and safety of all team members. After the Philippine government announced the nationwide lockdown, Diversify was able to transition into a work from home setup within 48hrs and thus able to continue operations while keeping any operational disruptions minimal.

The BPO Industry To Ease Unemployment Rates

As of this writing, many businesses globally are still affected by the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, this has meant a surge of unemployment in different industries. The Philippines alone has seen at least 2.6 million displaced workers due to temporary closure of businesses in the nation’s capital. 

Despite this surge of unemployment rates, some positive projections seen came to light, particularly in the BPO Industry. The Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) predicted a fast recovery of the Industry, helping ease the country’s unemployment rate.  Labour secretary Silvestre Bello stated that BPO companies have already given notice for their requirements, with an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 vacant roles to be filled by September.

The Philippines as a Business Continuity Hub

The Philippines as a business continuity hub for many businesses.

Several global business owners took notice of the quick response from Philippine BPO companies. According to a recent report, British investors and other western businesses continue to see the opportunities in the BPO industry. Despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19, businesses were still able to support their clients whilst having to lockdown onshore offices.

Road to Recovery

It has been months since COVID-19 first caused disruptions to many industries worldwide. Since then, business leaders were able to assess their current situations and respond accordingly through this health crisis. They strived to ensure the financial aspects of their business were sustainable enough to recover their losses. At the same time, they also prioritized the health and safety of their teams as they shifted to working remotely. Many saw the importance of regaining control and reimagining previous strategies and processes. They see these will overcome similar disruptions in the future. 

A major lesson taken from these uncertain times is that businesses must have a workforce strategy that guarantees continuity. Once stability is reached, business leaders will not only be more prepared for the next possible outbreak but will also be able to ensure continued success in the new normal.

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The Effects of COVID-19 on Cybersecurity

The Effects of COVID-19 on Cybersecurity

The disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic allowed companies to explore new ways on how to continue operations while prioritising the safety of their teams. Through a work from home setup, online meetings and virtual conferences became the most important medium for many businesses as a means of communication with their remote teams. Despite the upward trend of online meetings, there is also a rising concern on how cybersecurity and data privacy would remain safe for many users. It’s natural for these concerns to arise, and it’s essential to understand the cybersecurity risks involved as we shift towards the next normal. It’s important to note that no business strategy is without its flaws. No approach can be perfect, so it is up to those involved to ensure that cybersecurity risks and issues are addressed.

A Rise In Online Issues

Consider the following for a moment. Before the outbreak, many companies had teams that worked from home or remotely. However, this was only a small fraction of their entire workforce, making it much easier to monitor and manage potential cybersecurity issues. Currently, however, companies are looking at up to 90% of their teams working from home. Combine this with not having much time to prepare and adapt for such a unique situation, you can see where the challenges lie.

It’s likely also that home-based networks are not as secure to those in your offices. The use of personal computers can not only be distracting (especially with all the news happening in the world), they may be vulnerable to scams or phishing emails. Research conducted by Cloudflare showed a 37% increase in illegal online activities since the start of the pandemic. On top of this, the report also said that phishing emails spread at a staggering 667% during the same period. It was determined that these scams were likely playing into the general anxieties of people about the spread of COVID-19.

Staying Safe in the Online World

On paper, these approaches may seem obvious. At the same time, they are some of the most practical ways people can protect themselves online.

Password Protection for Everything

It’s good practice to not only have difficult passwords for important files, but activating additional steps such as two-step authentication can be a massive help. This is also not just limited to confidential files or documents. For those working from home with other people, placing passwords on your hardware can also help keep all your work secure.

Watch The Networks You Use

When working remotely, there’s a chance that you may need to log into a public network to access the internet. Many security experts discourage this, especially if you are working with sensitive documents that can easily become a target.

Password protection applies to both hardware and software.

As with the practice of having strong passwords, you can do the same as well for your home network to further enhance security.

Separate Work from Leisure

With many teams currently operating at home, this can certainly be a huge challenge for them. As we’ve discussed previously, one of the ways they can stay productive is to create a workspace that is free from most distractions and can help with their output. Having a space to yourself at home also means lesser chances of your workspace being accidentally accessed or tampered with by others.

Stay Vigilant

This is perhaps the most practical advice that you can get from security experts. Even in an office setting, security lapses can still happen, mostly in part to human error. Having better insight and education to what phishing emails look like or how to spot online scams can go a long way in protecting others online.

Making It The Norm

Keeping yourself safe online should be something that is consistently practised. Not just professionally, but also outside of work. In our constantly connected environment, it can be easy to fall for false links, email schemes and other similar practices. These problems can especially be amplified by the current work from home situation that some are trying to exploit.

Being mindful of what you share and taking the necessary steps to ensure your online safety is a good start. Companies today are also understanding what benefits remote work can do for their teams during this global crisis. In doing so, they help their teams have secure working experiences online while also showing them what they can do to stay vigilant.

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COVID-19 and The Effects on Mental Health

COVID-19 and The Effects on Mental Health

In the last few months, the global effects of COVID-19 pandemic are becoming more and more widespread. We’ve discussed previously how particular industries are feeling the current economic effects. They can also take action to be on the road to recovery. One of the things that need to be discussed however is how the pandemic is greatly affecting our mental health. It’s not just limited to those who may be susceptible to the disease. How the rest of the world is managing to cope through it is also important.

It is essential to have a good understanding of the mental health effects has on others. This can help facilitate better conversations about mental health in this current climate. It shows the impact of people’s actions having a ripple effect in making things better even in the slightest.

Disrupting the Old Normal  

As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted daily life, one needs to only look at it’s overarching effect these last few months. While several businesses sustained themselves via a remote working strategy, the same cannot be said for others. One unfortunate effect was the closing of companies due to lack of customers, or a shift in the priorities during this pandemic. The loss of livelihood, being unable to have daily interactions, and anxiety from reading the news may just be some of the factors people are struggling with as the outbreak continues.

COVID-19 and The Effects on Mental Health
Many people feel their mental health declining as the pandemic gets longer.

It’s not just professionals that are feeling the effects on their mental health. A survey by The Lancet saw 83% of students saying the pandemic having a negative effect on their mental health. Students cited the closures of their schools and lack of access to resources they would usually have.

What We Can Do

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) outlined some tips for mental health management. These approaches are not only useful to you but also help those around you as well.

Develop daily routines

The pandemic’s disruption of normal, daily life had a profound effect on many people. For others, they saw this a good chance to create new routines and habits that kept them busy and productive within their limited resources and space. In the last few months, we’ve seen stories of new hobbies, interests and exercise routines being adopted by people while they stay indoors. 

Check in with loved ones

Checking in with loved ones can help ease anxiety
Checking in with loved ones can help ease some anxieties.

Being in isolation can feel like a heavy burden. Both the WHO and CDC recommend that checking in with loved ones can help with your mental health. Similar to how virtual meetings take place, scheduling daily or weekly catch ups with peers can greatly benefit all involved. 

Minimize your time online

Social media is called a blessing and a curse due to the amount of real time information it gives us. If you scroll daily, it’s natural to feel things are bleak or that the end is still nowhere in sight. Taking frequent social media breaks can help relieve some of your anxiety from reading the daily news. Some would even recommend deleting the app you use so as not to feel tempted or to receive push notifications. 

Help others with proper information

If you need to remain on social media however, you can do your part in making it a better environment for others. As noted earlier, social media is rife with real time stories that are muddled with false information. Some of these false stories can have a damaging effect on people’s mental health if they are constantly bombarded with bad news. You can help others by fact checking and disseminating the right information to help allay the anxieties of others on social media.

Hope Lies Eternal

Indeed, discussing the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is a tricky challenge. It is clear, however, that fear and anxiety can seep into our mental health especially in social isolation from a global pandemic. As difficult as it may be for many, remember that these are not normal circumstances and that at some point, this will all come to an end. 

Until that time, however, keeping yourself safe both physically and mentally should remain a priority. The first step is in acknowledging that everyone’s situation is different and what may work for some may not yield the same results for others. It’s important that people listen and understand what they can do to support those going through difficult times without infringing on their well-being. By doing so, you can help create stronger bonds with others as you navigate towards the new normal together.

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Understanding the COVID-19 Impact on Retail Businesses

Understanding the COVID-19 Impact on Retail Businesses

No doubt that the retail industry was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The massive shifts in priorities and concerns are indicative of what industries are still managing to get by amidst the transition to the “new normal”. On the other hand, some industries are struggling to stay afloat due to these shifts in consumer behaviour.

The retail industry is one industry that adapted to the quickly shifting landscape brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, it also is going through brand new struggles. Consumers may not realize it, but their actions and habits towards retail businesses helped in both the boost and decline of particular areas in the industry. Here are a few insights on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the retail industry.

A Paradigm Shift

The retail industry encompasses everything from electronics, groceries, furniture and wellness. We can see which aspects of the industry are managing to get by amidst constrained suppliers and disrupted demand. According to a report from StrategyAnd, the food, grocery and wellness industries saw increased growth during the outbreak. Another report from GrowByData reiterates this, showing a 53% and 48% growth rate within these two industries. This should certainly come as no surprise as more consumers opted to stock up on various essentials during the quarantine period.

Online sellers made the shift to prioritizing essential goods.

At the same time, both reports also show declines in retail industries like apparel, the arts and electronics. As priorities shifted and services only focused on “essential items” during this pandemic, it was apparent they would struggle greatly. Additionally, many brick and mortar stores are feeling the effects of the disrupted demand due to limited reach and supply.

The Road To Recovery

So where does that leave us? As with most things, this outbreak is only temporary and will eventually subside. That means returning to usual operations under what can be called the next normal. While there are still many unknown factors, there are also emerging trends on how consumer behaviour will evolve once this period passes. To recover from it, companies can look at the following approaches.

Opportunities Arising

We mentioned last week that the COVID-19 outbreak revealed vulnerabilities for some companies that affected how they operate. We also talked about how these challenges also brought about new opportunities for them to change and develop as part of what is to come. The retail industry can assess and define what roles, approaches, and functions are more required, especially those that favour modern solutions over antiquated ones.

Leverage An Online Presence

One of the things we’ve seen during this outbreak period is the importance of contactless, online transactions. Companies that have strong online presence withstood some of the worst parts of this outbreak as a result.

Considering a digital approach for businesses that need it will help them recover from the effects of the outbreak and ensure they are prepared for future retail trends.

Increase Flexibility Through Digitalization

More than anything, a digital approach will help businesses become more flexible. As newer technologies translate into better productivity, expect to see more of it in the coming months. Before the outbreak, many businesses were already looking at this approach as part of their overall strategy for 2020 and beyond.

More companies are seeing the effectiveness of technology’s flexibility.

Integrating offshore teams with their local ones, for instance, helped them cover vital roles while also allowing them to explore new opportunities to expand. Though many strategies were put on hold due to the outbreak, allowing for more flexibility in roles and strategies will greatly help with the recovery process.

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