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How to make outsourcing in the Philippines work for you

Despite a growing trend for outsourcing in real estate, the industry still lags behind other early adopters. Beepo plans to change this with their ‘staff leasing on steroids’. Hannah Blackiston went along to the Philippines on a recent study tour to find out what outsourcing is really like for both employer and employee.

The idea of outsourcing often conjures up images of large factories or warehouses with bad working conditions, but the Beepo offices in the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone in the Philippines look much the same as any you would find elsewhere in the world. Split across two levels, with offices upstairs and a reception, canteen and break rooms downstairs, the workforce are organised in teams based on the work they do. Each team reports to their team leader, acting as your eyes and ears on the ground.

The outsourced staff can do almost any task onsite staff can do, from accounting to marketing, customer service to data entry. There’s a big property management division and a growing sales support department, alongside other departments focused on accounting and other industries.

The Beepo system is based on ‘staff leasing’. Essentially, the member assigned to help you works for Beepo and you pay Beepo to use their services, making the service easier for the client. This also means that if a staff member isn’t right for you they can be assigned elsewhere, removing any personal issues from the process.

The hiring process for an offshore staff member can be as in-depth or as simple as you want. If you have specific requirements, including systems you want them to be trained in, experience you want them to have or just someone to suit specific tasks, you can ask for these at the hiring stage. For a staff member who might be interacting with customers you can make specific language requirements. Ongoing communication with the Beepo team in the Philippines also means you can monitor your staff with complete transparency, and in the event they don’t work out you’re able to find someone who fills the role better.

Training

Training is an important part of the outsourcing experience. The staff at Beepo are trained using the same systems commonly used in the real estate industry in Australia and New Zealand. They receive legislation training, and can be trained in specific systems or processes necessary for your business. The real estate team leaders in the Philippines are also trained in the necessary systems and platforms, providing an onsite backup for staff queries.

The Study Tour isn’t just for businesses who are looking to bring on offshore staff; clients who already have Beepo staff often attend to have one-on-one training time with their offshore team, which is allotted in the program.

Each offshore staff member logs their tasks and time spent in a log sheet which is shared with you as often as you require it. You can pair this with meetings with their team leader as often as required, giving the whole process maximum transparency and accountability.

As for local area knowledge, it turns out it isn’t as hard to pick that up as you might have thought. With the magic of search engines and some ongoing training and experience, it isn’t long before the outsourced staff are as fluent in the areas you work in as you are. On the Study Tour you’re able to see some of this at work, and it’s impressive how much the team can pick up about regions without ever having been to them.

Security

Sharing data with offshore staff members brings up the question of security. In some instances this is a particularly big concern; private information associated with clients and banking data is often involved in the real estate team’s work.

Beepo take security very seriously. Their systems are set for finance industry standards and are triple levelled, including 24/7 security guards, Access Control Systems at the entries, four biometrics devices and a full CCTV system. All staff keep personal items, such as smartphones, in their lockers which are located in the break areas away from the offices. Beepo has a strict clean-desk policy, and any technology used is either supplied by the company hiring the outsourced staff member, or Beepo themselves.

Then there’s the web security. Staff members only have access to the specific website they need to do their job and Beepo have their own security system for all portals that require a log-in. Beepo Secure allows staff to access the systems you need them to without knowing your passwords or login information. The access is also matched to specific IP addresses, meaning the workers can’t use the portal outside of work.

The outsourced staff can do almost any task onsite staff can do, from accounting to marketing, customer service to data entry.

Culture

Culture can be a significant barrier when taking on outsourced staff, but it doesn’t have to be. The best way to onboard an outsourced team member is to treat them the same as anyone else new to your team. Getting to know your new team member, involving them in work events, even remotely, and spending time involving them with your work culture is an important part of the process.

Understanding the cultural differences is just a part of the process, and these can be heightened by the remote working. Setting up transparent working conditions, being clear in your needs and expectations, and acknowledging your worker and the output they produce is even more important when there’s a distance barrier. Once your team has become used to working with an outsourced staff member, and they fully understand your expectations and how you work, the boundaries can be easily overcome.

Establishing a harmonious workplace

One of the main concerns businesses and managers have is how to explain the outsourcing process to their current staff. Especially when seen against a backdrop of companies who have outsourced entire departments in other industries, the thought can strike fear into the hearts of your established staff members.

Education is an important part of the process, which is part of the reason that Beepo run their Study Tour. Rather than springing outsourced team members onto your current team and forcing them all to get along, a slow onboarding process with clear explanations is more likely to get you an optimum result. If your staff won’t work harmoniously with the outsourced staff then you’re never going to get the maximum output from your team, so it’s in everyone’s best interest that the process is handled smoothly.

The tasks you select for your outsourced staff is one of the first areas you can ensure a happy onboarding process with your current team. High time input with low value output are the tasks which staff members usually hate, and they’re also the tasks outsourced staff excel in.

By sitting down with your staff before you begin the hiring process and understanding the tasks which could be removed from them to improve their work output – and also make them happier in their roles – you’re more likely to win them over to the concept. This is also a great time to introduce other tasks to your team, partly so they don’t suspect you’re reducing their workload to get rid of them, but also to give them more satisfaction in their role.

Making offshore staff work for you

The main takeaway from the Beepo Study Tour is that the experience will work as well as you let it. If you’ve got a team who are keen to explore the options of outsourcing, you’re ready to dedicate the team to onboard and you’re looking at your offshore staff as an extension of your current team, then the system works. Education is one of the most important parts of this process – from the education of the business looking to bring in offshore team members to the education of that team in the required systems and processes.

The offshore staff experience is part of a wider movement to streamline business, improving procedures and making them more financially viable. Outsourcing goes hand in hand with cloud-based business and, as we move to a potentially tougher real estate climate, it makes sense to adopt these processes which will see a business work smarter and save money.

Beepo are striving for ‘staff leasing on steroids’, and in doing that they’re aiming to make this process as simple as possible. But, as they say, seeing is believing; being onsite and witnessing how seamless the process can be if all the cogs align is a really important part of the process.

All in all, offshore staff are definitely at the forefront of what’s to come for workforces; it’s just about how we adapt to it.

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Hannah Blackiston

Hannah Blackiston is the Deputy Editor of Elite Agent and real estate obsessive who splits her time between stalking auctions and lusting over luxury listings. She fell into property journalism 5 years ago and never looked back.

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