Pandemic growth – How to successfully grow a remote team offshore

Written by Nicholas Hastings, CEO and Founder, hammerjack

There is no doubt that the outbreak of Covid-19 around the world has amplified several unprecedented challenges for business owners, both within Australia and abroad. Cost pressures have become more severe, revenue prospects have been fluctuating wildly, and maintaining the right workforce balance has proven more difficult than perhaps ever before. Business owners have to juggle their operational capacity with their ability to cover the wages of their staff, in what feels like an endless state of jeopardy.

In response, I’ve seen savvy businesses quickly develop flexibility in their approach to cost-efficiency. Adaptability and definitive action have become indispensable skills for those looking to stay afloat. For our hammerjack clients, the sense of agility and underlying savings opportunities presented by incorporating external offshore staff within their corporate infrastructure have been impossible to ignore any longer.

To that end, over the last five years our team has seen businesses across varying industries both implement and scale up their offshore team, despite these shifting landscapes. How, and why, they successfully executed this process comes down to two main points. In each instance below, as for all our clients, the guidance and expertise of our hammerjack team was on hand to ensure the smoothest possible transition for these owners.

Why Good Processes and Boots on the Ground Matters

Through bottom-line pressures and ever-changing restrictions, this pandemic has seismically shifted thinking in terms of corporate infrastructure. The decision-making process has been accelerated and in my view this state of urgency has empowered business owners to look at offshore solutions.

Strong actions must be taken quickly and confidently for the sake of survival, even if they might be tough, and that can liberate ownership from the anxieties of indecision. We’ve observed a number of upper management teams seizing the initiative to make bold strategic and structural changes, incorporating offshore capital with a newfound sense of pragmatism.

Our longstanding client within the E-commerce and Tailoring industry, Institchu, took this initial sense of pragmatism and consulted hammerjack for the provision of one full-time equivalent offshore staff member for their accounts team four years ago. As their business has grown rapidly and the global corporate landscape has shifted, they have expanded upon this model to the tune of a further seven staff based offshore, each serving different responsibilities within their back of house operations. According to Managing Director & Co Founder James Wakefield Institchu were going through a period of rapid growth and needed guidance and support with their back-office processes. “That’s why we engaged hammerjack to really help streamline and create efficient processes so we can focus on what we’re good at,” said Mr. Wakefield.

Establishing a trusted offshore specialist partner, in hammerjack, has been critical in allowing Institchu to expand their team of outsourced capital with a sense of confidence and clarity, even throughout the pandemic. hammerjack was a key part in identifying areas where further efficiencies could be made. “There were parts we didn’t even realise were an administrative burden for our team,” stated Mr. Wakefield.

The seamless onboarding and “knowledge transfer,” as Mr. Wakefield refers to it, is the reason why the placement of each staff member has been so successful. This combined with support with ongoing management and training is why the partnership creates a sense of agility that is perhaps more valuable than ever before in recent times.

Many of the most successful businesses I’ve observed expanding their offshore workforce have done so within this framework, not as a means of replacing the existing onshore team but rather to augment and strengthen them. There is a perception that many businesses hire offshore to substitute their domestic staff, however our experience it is about attaining the most effective and productive mix between the two.

How to get consistent, quality outcomes no matter where your team is located

Some business owners have also noted, and leveraged, a shift in corporate culture, as formerly in-house full-time staff members have taken in droves to working remotely, both in Australia and abroad. Even as some domestic restrictions temporarily eased earlier this year, we saw a number of businesses retain that framework, recognising an opportunity to cut down on a swathe of overheads including corporate rent, travel expenditure, and utilities. When taking that into consideration, how much distinction remains between a remote worker based in Sydney and one located overseas? Especially when accounting for the fact that the best-cost solution is regularly more likely to be found offshore.

Conceptually, the pool of talent should stretch wider and deeper than ever before. The recruitment of new staff no longer hinges on the postcode in which they live. There has also been time throughout the pandemic to iron out any operational wrinkles with regards to remote workers. Owners and management now feel significantly more adequately equipped to both communicate and manage their remote workforce. With this newfound technological expertise an offshore team member, or members, is not nearly as intimidating to business ownership as it might once have been.

Despite this, for some ownership teams knowing where to start looking, establishing a guarantee of quality, and predicting how well new offshore workers will enmesh within the existing culture and infrastructure of a business has still stayed their hand. For Obsidian Advisory (tax and accounting service specialists), scaling up appropriately with the most suitable offshore team members for their needs would have been nigh on impossible without the partnership and procedural guidance of our hammerjack expertise.

Within two years, notwithstanding the pressures of the pandemic, they have successfully grown their offshore workforce from one full-time equivalent team member to six, partnering with our specialist team throughout the process.

Managing Director, Joe Hart stresses the importance of having quality when expanding your offshore team. “hammerjack don’t just copy paste or follow a bums on seats approach, the detail in aligning with our business, our culture and our goals takes it to another level, we’re now seeing our offshore team produce better quality, more consistent work than our onshore staff.”

The old expression is that ‘pressure creates diamonds’. Well, it’s indisputable that the pandemic has applied unforeseen levels of pressure on small business owners across the board. However, some have been galvanised into action, spurred on by the need to survive and outlast these unprecedented conditions. That newfound sense of urgency can declutter the process of making decisions and ultimately creates a time for agility and flexibility.

This is how we’ve seen some of our small business partners grow their offshore teams throughout recent years. They’ve been bold and decisive, underwritten by the experience, skill and knowledge of our hammerjack staff. In times when revenues are fluctuating, developing the confidence to take concise, necessary action in the knowledge that your partner will provide the best possible asset for your needs can make all the difference.

The corporate landscape has changed, perhaps permanently, and offshore teams are becoming an increasingly important contingent of any businesses’ staffing mix. It’s important to assess your options now, make sure that you’re nimble and prepared to adjust quickly to account for further curveballs in these unprecedented times. So, talk to our expert hammerjack team and empower yourself with the knowledge of the staffing tools you have available, and how we can make them work best for you.