Outsourcing of services is becoming more and more mainstream and with the abundance of former corporate workers who have vast knowledge and experience and now run their own businesses, you will likely be able to find someone to help you for a reasonable amount of money. Just as business owners can operate from just about anywhere, resources can provide services from anywhere. But whatever your needs are, always remember: “buyer beware”!!
Here’s a few things to consider when outsourcing:
The lowest priced outsourced solution may not be the best; good people cost money and beware that even these days, you still get what you pay for.
If you’re just starting out, outsource from the very beginning with a Virtual Assistant and a bookkeeper and grow your team from there. As your business grows, you can take on a web designer, a ghost writer, a graphic designer, an executive assistant, a project manager, etc.
Don’t outsource a task just because you don’t want to do it. There will be tasks that only you can do because they’re important to operations and strategic plan.
Always strike a fair deal with your resources and treat them with respect. You’re relying on them to handle important tasks for you and your business so don’t take advantage of them.
Bartering. This is a great way to get things done for no cost in exchange for services. Make sure that you and the resource are clear about the terms and that the services you each provide are both what you want. Beware that this mode of payment isn’t for everyone.
On the personal side of your life, you might think about outsourcing to further free up your time:
A personal assistant to help keep you and your family organized;
Housekeeper/house cleaning service;
Grocery service, errand service
When I first started my remote support agency, I thought I would lay-off my housekeeper, thinking that since I would be working from home, I could manage the house myself. A very wise business coach I met during my early networking days advised me against it. The reason? “You’re going to be at work during the day.” She was correct, of course, and my housekeeper is still with me to this day. What are your priorities? What would make your life easier and be less stressful for you? Give it some thought!
Over the past several years the physical landscape of the traditional office space has changed to evolve and promote productivity of its workers. Ergonomics assessments, increasing natural lighting and working with flexible schedules are examples of changes that have helped in this regard, but what if your employees are finding they are more productive outside of the office environment?
While some companies have successfully integrated the ability for workers to work from home where feasible and as shown in this Globe and Mail article,(dated 2017) some managers and leaders find it challenging to manage workers that are not located on the company’s site. Many times, there is a trust issue between management and employees or hired virtual workers that need to be dealt with to allow a successful off-site arrangement to work. These issues are as relevant today as they were when remote working was becoming more commonplace.
A common question that we hear is “How will I know if the work is being done right, or being done at all?”
The simple answer: Outcomes and Results.
The proof is in the pudding as they say. This may be accomplished by setting goals for the day, week, and month for the off-site worker to meet and if actual time worked is a concern, the worker can submit a weekly time sheet either manually, or using time tracking software online.
For the most part, when an off-site worker is trusted they may feel more invested in a company that understands the importance of working off-site and may want to have their best work shine through in those results and outcomes. So if you’re on the fence about off-site work, here are just a few benefits to this way of working:
Your very valuable time. The day of a manager or leader can be packed,with all employees in the office valuable time is taken by “doing the rounds” to check and see what everyone is up to, but is there a value in this?
Workers that have opted for off-site work tend to be more productive, as there may be things within the office environment they find distracting or may just work at a different pace and timeline than what has been established as the norm.
Workers that have opted for off-site work and have been given the opportunity to do so may have greater respect for those they are working for, as they may feel they are being understood.
Many off-site workers tend to find a better balance of their social commitments and work with less absenteeism.
Communications with your off-site worker are as simple as picking up the phone, sending an instant message, sending an email, or starting a Skype conversation.
Remember though that remote working isn’t for everyone! Some people are their most productive working on their own in peace and quiet (like yours truly). Other people need a place to go every day and work well with interruptions and face-to-face interactions. Either way, in today’s information society it still comes down to outcomes and results however, working remotely allows for much more autonomy for the responsible human to provide the results on the due date without management knowing when the work was actually done.
These are unprecedented times we’re living in and with that comes uncertainty. With what has been coined “the new normal”, more people have found themselves working from home, and some are finding it increasingly challenging. Non-profits and associations are finding this new way of working challenging also because when you’re ‘being virtual’ it’s difficult to be in front of your donors and members with why they should contribute or why they need to continue to be a member.
In my 17 years of providing remote support to non-profits and associations, I’ve seen many changes and upheavals in the past year because of the pandemic. For me and my team, not much has changed operationally and because we operate the way we do, we were able to provide advice to our clients to help them change and adapt their operations helped them work remotely. The interesting thing is that because they were up and running again quickly, they were able to focus on new ways to stay in front of their donors and members. I have stepped back from time to time amid all the ‘chaos’ and thought, ‘aren’t we lucky that we have the technology to manage everything we need to manage? ‘
There is always a human side to that ‘remoteness’ regardless of what sector your organization is in. In my view, we really do need to take care of ourselves in these times of upheaval and uncertainty. We need to stay in top form so that we can help others around us but also to be more resilient to change. Take care of you. You’re important.