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How are you filling your small business skills vacuum?


Every one of us small business operators is discovering the skill shortage in many sectors, thanks to a lack of international students, backpackers and travellers filling low skilled roles across both urban and rural business. No longer available to us, thanks to COVID and the many people repatriating to country of origin.


This has been felt in retail, agriculture, tourism and hospitality sectors, as well as many other sectors where an itinerant and short-term work force supplements existing, longer-term workforces. After decades of mass immigration, it appears we still are suffering critical "skills shortages" with fruit pickers, waiters and baristas in high demand.


Many business operators are turning to virtual or offshore workforces to pick up the slack but there is a fine line between getting the work done, getting it done to the standard you expect and managing the rates at which a virtual workforce is paid, with considerations such as modern slavery and ethical compensation to be made.


So how do you choose the right way to augment your workforce?

Some teams will need to outsource the support they need. Augmenting internal staff with an onshore partner is a good option for ongoing, multi-disciplinary support. These partners, such as consultants and contractors can be leaned upon for the most current trends and thinking, and in many ways become extensions of the client teams they help represent. While a smart option, it will require time, investment, and management to realize the full value for the business owner, and often, can be cost prohibitive.


Bringing in an offshore team or individual involves outsourcing work to a different country. Typically, offshore teams are utilised for ad hoc or one-off needs, the most common of which being development or coding, but more frequently, marketing support, social and digital media and administrative tasks to support sales and other teams. The gain for teams is that this in-demand labour is typically less expensive, resulting in some significant cost savings but the trade-off comes in collaboration and, potentially, quality.


Language barriers and time zones can impact the output, as can the ethical implications of using an offshore work agency. Businesses need to be sure the worker is being compensated correctly, conditions are comparable to ours and nobody is being exploited, or worse still, suffering any kind of modern slavery.


A basic misunderstanding or breakdown in communication or misunderstanding can ripple throughout a project, ultimately leading to quality and cost concerns, so it is wise to look onshore first where time zones, quality and communication barriers can be easily addressed, quickly and efficiently.


With all the potential variables, the cost savings of engaging an offshore team may get sunk into rework and ensuring delivery to client specs and acceptance standards. Take the time, if you think an offshore workforce is for you, do your research and determine where the best options are for you to provide quality, safety, efficiency and ethical outcomes before you just weigh up the cost.


Or call us to offer some viable options for you.

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