What Are the Benefits and Challenges of a Remote Workforce?

With the demand for skilled software developers and IT staff growing rapidly, companies often find themselves short-handed and understaffed at the worst possible time. These days, even companies outside the tech sector need access to expert developers to keep systems competitive and secure.

In response to growing demands, CIOs and other top technology decision-makers are using a variety of strategies to keep their systems secure and their development projects humming along.

In the U.S., for example, many tech firms are in stiff competition for H-1B visas, which enable them to hire foreign professionals with advanced skills in specialty occupations such as software development.

Companies also outsource certain business roles such as tech support or customer service to skilled remote workers in countries like India, where prevailing wages for such positions are lower than they are in the U.S. In addition to helping businesses reduce their fixed HR expenses, this strategy is also being welcomed in regions that view it as a way to boost their economic development.

In fact, New York-based Andela was recently awarded $24 million in funding from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's philanthropic initiative, to expand training an elite team of software developers in Africa, who can work remotely on outsourced projects.

Outsourcing Will Grow, 'Reinvent Itself'

In a recent report, the global advisory firm Tholons said outsourcing "has remained a proven method to reduce operational costs and increase efficiencies, and service buyers will continue to look for stable and resilient markets where good governance and sustainability are present. The lure of improved bottom lines, is simply too great a reward for service buyers not to 'explore' their outsourcing options."

Beyond controlling employment costs and providing alternative access to skilled people when there are shortages in the local workforce, outsourcing benefits businesses in other ways, as well. Done right,...

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