Even though most of us are stuck in our homes these days, business operations in many sectors must continue. For this to happen, we have all had to make adjustments to our professional and personal lives. Companies must also adapt how they assess current and prospective vendors, especially those that provide a supplementary workforce.
It is no longer enough for workforce vendors to tout their history of quality and speed at a low cost. Though these qualities are still important, workforce vendors must also prove that they are able to serve your current and future needs in this time of uncertainty. That means companies must have confidence in their remote work experience, approach to risk mitigation, and overall flexibility.
To help you assess these new criteria, here are some key questions to ask. And how your workforce vendor should answer:
What have you done to ensure your own business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic? Have there been any service interruptions?
The first indication of a vendors’ ability to deliver in these challenging times is their immediate response to the spread of COVID-19. There have been several reports that workforce vendors who did not respond quickly by moving to a distributed delivery model (with teams working only from home) are struggling to keep up with the agreed upon volume of work for their clients.
As COVID-19 began to reach the countries where CloudFactory operates, we took our workforce 100% distributed in just 10 days, with no service interruptions. However it’s not just a matter of allowing the workforce to operate from their homes, vendors must also have processes and technology in place to manage remote teams. Which brings us to the next key question.
What is your experience and track record with remote work?
Think about how difficult it has been for many of us who are now working from home to get back to the level of productivity we experienced in an office setting. There are the physical distractions of pets, family members, and household chores plus the technology issues of low bandwidth and insufficient workstations. Working productively and responsively in a remote setting is a skill, and workforce vendors need to have experience combatting these challenges to effectively manage a remote workforce.
Look for a vendor that has been working 100% remote or in a blended model (and that means more than just two or three workers) for several years. CloudFactory had a 100% remote workforce for our first six years of operation, and we have continued to deliver 50% of our work remotely over the past four.
What countries do you operate in?
Vendors with a good COVID-19 response and extensive remote work experience still carry risk if they only deliver their services from one location. Geographic diversification is more important than ever as countries are disproportionately hit by the virus. Having the ability to load balance work between two or more locations gives vendors a significant advantage when it comes to risk mitigation, which is why CloudFactory has delivery hubs in both Kenya and Nepal.
How are you ensuring data security with a partially or fully remote workforce?
As their employees were asked to work from home, many companies have quickly implemented new security protocols to deal with the associated risk. The response of your workforce vendor should be no different.
Workforce vendors need to prove that they are replicating, or even enhancing, the level of data security they had in the controlled environment of their delivery centers. CloudFactory has made this possible for our clients through a strong combination of technology like a secure browser, VPN, and multi-factor authentication and workforce processes like background checks and NDAs.
Are you able to support new work for current clients and new clients?
This question seems similar to the first, but the answer is just as important to understand. While some vendors can continue to support your current work with minimal interruptions, many will struggle to scale during this time. If your industry is growing, you are refocusing on R&D, or need additional support for any reason, the ability to expand service with your workforce vendor is vital to continued business operations. That means your vendor needs to prove that they still have access to a pool of new workers and that they can vet, onboard, and train just as well remotely as they did when they had a physical location.
Now is the time for a workforce partner, not just a workforce vendor. Learn more about how CloudFactory is helping our clients maintain their business operations.