Pros and Cons of Outsourcing: Changes in the Era of Remote Work

by | July 29, 2020


Growing your business can leave you with more on your to-do list than you can get done in a reasonable workday. You may have considered simply adding more permanent team members, but outsourcing certain tasks to a freelancer or third party company can be a better fit for many businesses. Outsourcing has a variety of benefits, such as getting work accomplished outside your regular workday, consulting freelancers with professional expertise in a variety of areas that your employees may not have, and saving money. Remote work has increased significantly over in-person work for many businesses over the last few months, and with that has come an increase of interest in outsourcing. At Zirtual, we are here to help you find a third-party solution that best meets your needs!

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing

Like any innovative element of running a business, choosing to outsource certain aspects of your work to a third party can have both advantages that improve your business and disadvantages that make keeping track of everything that is happening within your company more challenging. Carefully weighing the pros and cons of outsourcing before making a decision plays a crucial role in helping you choose the business model that best fits the goals and needs of your company. Although these lists can give you a general idea of whether or not outsourcing is a good fit for your company, remember that you know the current strengths and weaknesses of your business best, which can help you make a final decision.

Advantages of Outsourcing

Most companies can benefit from some type of outsourcing. Freelancers and third party companies can increase the productivity of your business while helping you save money.

Get Tasks Accomplished Quickly

One of the most common reasons to consider outsourcing certain tasks to outside workers is a need for a faster turnaround time on certain types of projects. If you find that your business is falling behind because you don’t have enough employees to get things done in a timely manner, outsourcing some of your more general tasks to a third party company or freelancer can be a great way to allow your employees to focus on the specialized work that is unique to your business.

Reduce Costs

Hiring a larger staff to solve the problem of not having enough employees to get everything done is not always feasible for every small business. Each full-time staff member that you add to your team requires a full-time salary and benefits, which may not fit into your company’s budget. In many cases, it can be more cost-effective to have a freelancer spend a few hours working on basic tasks for your company each week than to increase the size of your staff.

Get More Done in Less Time

Outsourcing work allows your business to make time zones and other schedule differences work to your advantage. Partnering with freelancers that live in another time zone or don’t mind working on weekends and holidays means that work is getting done even when you and your employees are out of the office. By eliminating certain tasks from your daily schedule, you can devote more time to creating new goals and strategies to build your company.

Bring in More Expertise

No one is an expert at everything, and your small business may benefit from bringing in outside experts to accomplish certain tasks. If you’re looking for someone to design a new logo for your business, build a modern website, write blog posts, or manage your social media pages, outsourcing to a freelancer who makes a career of handling these tasks for companies can often bring more to the table than asking one of your employees that doesn’t have experience in a particular area to do it.

Drawbacks of Outsourcing

Although outsourcing is usually beneficial for most types of companies, there are certain drawbacks to consider before committing to working with a freelancer or third party company.

Lose Some Control Over Your Work

Outsourcing work to freelancers or third party companies usually improves the quality of your business, but it’s important to keep in mind that every person you trust with your work takes some control over the final product from you. Working with a new freelancer always puts your business at risk of receiving poor work or never hearing back at all, so it’s important to carefully choose one that you trust. Be sure that the person or company you outsource to has enough experience to provide quality work and a strong reputation for completing work on time.

Potential Security Risks

Providing your company’s or customers’ personal information to a freelancer or third party company can put your or your customers’ confidential data at risk. The increase in remote work in recent years has contributed to a higher percentage of vital files that are stored online instead of on paper documents, and it is important to be cautious about who you trust with that information. Although misuse of personal information is rare, it is another reason to choose who you outsource work to carefully.

Potential Communication Issues

Strong communication skills are a must to succeed in nearly any field, but outsourcing work means that you won’t always know much about the person you are working with beyond his or her skills and qualifications. Language barriers, time zone differences that make having a conversation difficult, or freelancers that simply never respond after accepting a project can cause outsourcing to create more challenges for your business than it solves. Many freelancers and third-party companies expect a minimum of anywhere from 24 hours to several days to submit work. Be sure to choose a company that offers a specific turnaround time if you are working on a deadline and be clear about your needs upfront.

Your Company May Face Criticism

Some of your customers may not agree with the concept of outsourcing, which can result in backlash against your company. Customers that prefer to support only American brands may not feel comfortable knowing that your company outsources overseas, and learning that you did not personally create the content on your website or social media pages may cause them to question your credibility. Being upfront about outsourcing, rather than intentionally hiding it, can help you keep your relationship with your customers intact.

Effects of Increase in Remote Work on Outsourcing

The shift to remote work that many companies have experienced this spring and summer may lead to differences in how “normal” work looks in the future. Now that many employees who would have never considered working from home in the past have become familiar with Zoom and experienced the benefits of setting their own schedule, they may show an increased interest in continuing to work remotely after the pandemic is over.

Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, and many other major companies have already declared their intention to allow the majority of their employees to continue working from home permanently, and this increased interest in and understanding of remote work may also lead to an increase in outsourcing for companies that may not have considered it in the past. The capabilities of the modern internet make connecting with both regular employees and freelancers anywhere in the world easier than it has ever been, which has the potential to contribute to a significant increase in outsourcing.

Roles That Can Easily Be Outsourced

Many roles within your business are relatively easy to outsource. By browsing online freelancing platforms or connecting with individuals on LinkedIn, you can quickly find qualified third party companies or freelancers in administration, customer service, marketing, sales, IT, and a wide variety of other industries. Occasional or one-time projects, such as graphic design, writing, and website content creation are also easy to outsource and can often be done entirely online.

Roles That Cannot Easily Be Outsourced

Although many positions can easily be outsourced, certain roles are difficult or impossible to outsource. Most positions in healthcare, culinary, education, repair, and similar industries can only be accomplished in person and cannot be replaced with remote work or outsourcing. Although certain aspects of these industries, such as telehealth services and distance learning, have made strides over the last few months, the professional requirements and face-to-face benefits of these roles mean that they are unlikely to fully replace in-person services any time soon.

Outsource Strategically To Reduce Potential Downsides

Although outsourcing can come with a variety of potential downsides, making strategic decisions when planning outsourcing can help you reduce them. By making a list of each task that you or your employees complete during each day, month, and quarter, you can identify items that are easiest to pass along to a third party. Doing your research in advance to learn as much as you can about the person or third party company you are considering working with can help you make sure that you choose someone that provides reliable, quality work.

At Zirtual, we are here to help you find ways to make the most of the time that you and your employees spend at work. We know that growing your business can require you to add more to your workload than you can reasonably fit into each day, and we offer practical solutions for eliminating the more tedious tasks that don’t necessarily need to be completed by someone at your business from your schedule. Whether you’re interested in hiring a virtual assistant or exploring other outsourcing options, we are here to help you find a reliable partner that you trust. Although outsourcing isn’t right for every type of company, most business owners find that sending administrative work, customer service, and other tasks to a third party or freelancer instead of hiring more permanent staff members benefits their business in a variety of ways. Contact Zirtual today to learn more about the services we offer or to request a consultation!