Offshore Staffing Solutions: How the pandemic has given a push to the already growing concept of remote working

July 13, 2021 2:16 PM

The overall outlook towards offshore staffing has improved but there are a few reservations, especially in the context of accounting firms.

offshore employeesOffshoring in accounting helps in providing a significant push as it helps in saving time at all levels.

By Shalin Parikh,

Covid-19 has created a wide range of disruptions in team formations and management in different sectors and industries. The overall outlook towards offshore staffing has improved but there are a few reservations, especially in the context of accounting firms. There are various points of concerns including whether offshoring would essentially ‘replace’ the existing workforce; opinion of the clients; and ‘knowledge’ and ‘skill levels’ of the offshore employees. There is, of course, the issue of data security as accounting includes confidential information transmission.

Offshoring in accounting helps in providing a significant push as it helps in saving time at all levels. The need for multiple layers of review of the financial statements also reduces. Offshoring is no longer a ‘norm’ but a necessity as pushed by the Covid-19 pandemic. So, irrespective of a person working in ‘Bangalore or Boston’, ‘Miami or Mumbai’, ‘New York or New Delhi’, the important factors include the skills and knowledge of the accounting staff as well as the arrangements for ensuring data security. Accounting staff are willing to recruit professionals from different parts of the world. With the concept of remote working becoming more common due to the pandemic, the firms could easily convince the clients about the standards and quality of work carried out by the offshore workforce.

Offshoring is not a new concept. In the past, remote working or ‘work from home’ has been considered as a prerequisite offered by the employers to the existing or potential workers. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the impact of remote working processes on performance of the employees has been considered as largely positive. Around 17% of the workers used to work from home or from remote locations before the Covid-19 pandemic during an average week in the United States. However, the number increased to 44% during the peak of the pandemic as remote working became even more popular and necessary. Hence, working from home or remote areas is no longer a prerequisite but a necessity. As per the survey carried out by McKinsey, the trend is going to continue in the near future.

With Zoom meetings and improved audio-visual connectivity, there are a few traditional sectors and work areas wherein remote working has been quickly adopted. This includes marketing, advertising, and IT services. However, there have been a few areas where remote working was a possibility and perquisite even before the pandemic struck the world. It included any work outsourced by companies to agents, professionals and organisations based in different parts of the world. For instance, an enterprise based in the United States might have outsourced the entire accounting and auditing job to a firm based in India. The Indian back office’s staff had the option of working from home or remote areas even before the pandemic largely because of the nature of the work. The interaction between the US and Indian offices would be carried out through electronic and internet-based processes. Hence, the pandemic has just pushed the concept of remote working for the offshore workers.

There has been a change in the way the employers look towards offshore job assignments. In the context of the UK, only 6% of the total employees used to work from remote locations before the pandemic. However, this number will be higher in the future as almost 32% of the employers are contemplating a permanent move towards working from remote locations as a way to avoid disruptions and ensure that the organisations are able to save a significant amount of cost.

Offshoring staffing solutions could be deemed as one sector which was largely ‘ahead of its time’ as it supported the importance of working from home and remote locations even before the concept was popular. Even when the world was not ready to transform from a traditional office-based working system to a home office process, offshore staffing solutions had been supporting the concept by underlining the benefits in terms of cost and time savings. However, the pandemic only made the ‘optional’ factor to ‘mandatory’. One could imagine the quantum of losses in the context of employment and economic activities if the companies did not adopt work from remote locations when there were restrictions on movements imposed due to the pandemic.

(The author is Co-founder and CEO, Entigrity Group. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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