It started off with offshoring, which is transferring part of the company business to countries where costs are lower. The latest trend in work organisation is called homeshoring. What’s the difference? Functions are not relocated overseas, they get relocated…to workers’ homes.
Home is where your work is
Homeshoring is primarily an alternative form of outsourcing and remote working.
Homeshoring allows a company to reduce some of the infrastructure and maintenance costs of a physical office by using technology and good organisation to offer staff the flexibility and freedom to work from home.
Homeshoring works well when a company uses its own staff to work remotely from home. In a homesourcing model, staff are not freelance workers, they are simply obliged to work the same hours as an internal staff member. Generally speaking, each staff member must have a stable, reliable internet connection and must stay online during normal company hours.
The company assigns tasks to staff members via e-mail, online collaboration software or via instant messaging, web conferences or voice calls. People working from home receive instruction and training via online systems/processes/methods and are sometimes called into the office for training.
Ways of working from home are improving as technology evolves, and there is a trend for developing new operational figures. Initially, employers focussed on call center staff or other customer service figures. Now, thanks also to Covid-19, this way of working has accelerated and become more widespread, and employers have realised that other professions are compatible with homeshoring, like architects, accountants, tax inspectors, financial analysts and so on.
Benefits for everyone…
At first glance, everyone gains from homeshoring. Liberated form the stress of office life, staff have the chance to fit their working lives around their individual lifestyles. That prospect appeals above all to younger generations. Studies show that millennials rate freedom above salary. For companies, homeshoring means substantial cost-cutting as regards premises, but that is not all. The last, but not least important beneficiary of the new trend is the environment. According to calculations by Jojob, the smart services for work platform, 60,000 tons of CO2 were avoided in Italy alone during lockdown thanks to compulsory smart working.
…or almost everyone
Should we all stay at home, then? Not quite. You have to remember that homeshoring is an option reserved for specific departments, mainly for customer care activities. It’s no coincidence that an estimated 20% of call centers around the world are adopting a home-based organisation.
The disadvantages of a remote team:
- Workers must be comfortable using technology and be set up with remote technical support. Working in close contact on a project, both company and worker may encounter certain challenges or difficulties because of varying work processes, time differences, cultural differences or other factors.
- A remote team means working on a project in close collaboration. That means daily virtual meetings and a need for good communication.
- Poor communication. More often than not, poor communication is attributable to the relationship between partners. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to help overcome this problem, but it must be managed with a structured approach from the start, because distance makes it more acute.
- Concerns over collaboration. Some managers feel that physical distance inhibits collaboration. They need “the energy in the room” when a critical situation arises.
- They should have a clearly defined home office space.
- People working from home need to understand that remote working is not a substitute for kindergarten unless they can programme their work hours around their children’s needs.
- Hidden costs. Even if homeshoring seems like a more economical solution for companies that are trying to develop certain projects, it is necessary to be aware of all costs, to avoid paying more than initially forecast.
- Failure to synchronise deadlines. It is much easier to control deadlines when you work with an internal team rather than with a remote partner.
- Confidentiality. It is necessary to carefully assess the type of information to be transmitted to outsourcing partners and discuss an NDA: Non-disclosure Agreement in advance that will prevent them from disclosing sensitive information.
The traditional office has been going through a transformation for several decades now. Communal spaces will have a further boost, evolving to increase ultra-technological living spaces, pods and collaborative multimedia suites that invite and encourage various workers with different work modes to meet, even occasionally.
“It doesn’t matter where you do it, just as long as it gets done”. This may be the work slogan for the coming years.