You may have come across the term virtual staffing or outsourcing before but if you haven’t then you need not worry because by the end of this piece you’ll have all the information you require to determine whether virtual staffing is the right solution for your business.
Essentially, the term virtual staffing is broadly associated with outsourcing, which is simply a process by which companies either contract individuals or agencies in order to meet their business objectives. Contrary to some myths perpetuated by the industry’s critics, virtual staffing tends to actually begin when organisations understand their unique competitive advantage and gain insight into the areas of their offering that others can perform better. For example, if a company’s core competencies are in product design or development, it is sensible that it seeks expert resources to meet its non-core competencies from those individuals or agencies that are more specialised in those areas in order to achieve optimal efficiency outcomes. In short, it is getting the best talent wherever it may be located even if it means outsourcing.
Virtual Staffing Varieties
Most businesses today currently use some form of outsourcing at some point in their value chain. Technology has advanced the virtual staffing process and we have to remember that these developments have been largely driven by consumer and investor needs. For instance, most manufacturers today outsource significant portions of the components of their finished products. Similarly in the service industry, businesses now regularly make use of virtual staffing to run their back office operations from customer service, HR, accounting to technical functions.
Virtual staffing can be classified according to location. As far as the different kinds of companies, their operation can be identified by three main areas of activities:
- Local staffing — applies to companies whose operations are restricted to the local market in terms of their labour requirements.
- Offshore staffing — refers to instances where businesses tend to seek expertise outside their national borders in order to access the specialised labour which may not be easily available locally.
- Nearshore staffing — refers to strategic outsourcing to areas which share commonalities such as language and these tend to be within the creative industries where communication is key to the success of undertakings.
Furthermore, virtual staffing can split into two categories. These are Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO). Some of the main differences between the two include…
This implies outsourcing particular process tasks for instance customer service or payroll. The nature of the work is typically front office or back office related. This includes tasks such as technical support and customer orientated work like marketing. Other types of activities that are associated with business process outsourcing include virtual staffing for data entry services, writing, typesetting, or transcription services, bookkeeping, multimedia and design related jobs.
Knowledge Process Outsourcing on the other hand typically requires much more virtual staff involvement in tasks. Companies seeking to employ advanced levels of research, analytical and technical skills such as those sought after in research and development work, legal services, intellectual property research, architectural and industrial design, just to name a few. There tends to be higher engagement and advanced sourcing negotiations associated with KPO work.
Finding The Right Talent
The great thing about virtual staffing is that there are higher chances of finding the right talent because of increased availability when looking beyond borders. If your hiring is restricted to the local market then there are also chances that companies can miss out on a better or more equipped labour force. To get access to a wider talent pool businesses have long been searching for the best candidates across borderlines. Due to the competitive nature of many industries it’s no longer adequate for businesses to use local resources only for the simple fact of keeping things local. Today, with many businesses now part of the digital economy, entrepreneurs are waking to the fact that to be successful, utilizing the appropriate online tools is key.
The pressure to deliver the best quality in order to maintain competitive advantage has never been greater so businesses are using the convenience of technology to locate the best talent. Often it is as simple as registering a business on internet platforms, advertising the positions and providing the necessary jobs specifications and then drawing workers from all over the globe to your offer and doing the necessary assessments and due diligence and actually getting projects underway is a very short space of time. That is the power of social networks today. However, it’s sometimes better for companies to find the right virtual staffing partners who are reliable and have the reputation and proof to back up their claims and let them handle the recruiting.
There are also a number of trusted online platforms which help connect clients and virtual staff including online sites such as Upwork and BidModo.
Why Virtual Staffing Might Be Ideal for Your Business
There are numerous reasons why so many companies are turning to virtual staffing services. Some of the benefits of outsourcing include:
- Greater access to a highly skilled workforce.
- Increased flexibility allowing businesses to hire according to their business requirements.
- Virtual employees tend to be happier workers because increasingly more people want greater employment flexibility to allow them to work as and when it suits them.
- Higher scalability because companies do not need to rent or buy larger office or industrial space in order to carry out their business functions and this also strengthens business balance sheets since there are less operational costs.
- There is increased efficiency because tasks can be outsourced to workers in different time zones allowing companies to operate on a 24/7 basis.
How to Get Started
It’s actually not complicated to find the right virtual staffing solutions and start benefiting your business. What companies need to do is find a reliable virtual staff provider, outline their specific requirements, provide detailed project briefs and preferred candidate profiles and set up a system for quality checking the virtual staffing services and literally start giving the green light on projects and achieve the desired business objectives.
There are several reliable freelance sites where you can get skilled labour to meet your virtual staffing needs. There are a variety of expertise you can outsource to Upwork, Fever and such virtual staffing sites including design, writing, marketing, and administrative tasks. Another reputable site is Toptal where businesses can find quality virtual staff to execute tasks that are particularly tech related. It’s well known for having great clients from some of the biggest corporations in the world. Other sites like Freelancer are also good for outsourcing jobs quickly. A new wave of outsourcing is also emerging with the likes of TaskRabbit and AirTasker which are platforms where you can virtually find people to do almost any type of job fast and efficiently. There is also the potential to network with freelancers and virtual staff who are willing to work remotely through platforms such as LinkedIn,Behance, 99 Designs and PeoplePerHour.
Written by: Heath Muchena, author of The Digital Economy Survival Toolkit, a book that highlights why being online is important for startups and small businesses and The Digital Entrepreneur Manual, a comprehensive list of descriptive links to free resources, tools, platforms and apps that you need to set up an income generating business on the internet.