Today we have selected Mike Larcher to take his interview. He is CEO & Co-Founder of Outsourced.
First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?
The team and I are doing just fine. We have nearly 80% of the staff vaccinated now. We have been very flexible with working from home and focused on staff wellness and happiness during these challenging times.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?
I started my first company, “acid green” (an Australian digital commerce agency), in 2000 at the age of 21. In 2010 I founded “Academ” to deliver software to the Education sector, and in 2012, I founded Outsourced to provide quality offshore staffing solutions in the Philippines. Each company has won multiple awards within their category, and Outsourced has now grown to over 450 staff.
In 2019 I sold acid green to a global digital agency to focus full-time on building Outsourced into a quality offshore staffing market leader in the Philippines. My goal is to grow Outsourced to over 2,000 staff within the next 3-5 years.
How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you Coping?
When COVID started to escalate around the world in early 2020 and countries were forced into lockdown and people-facing non-essential businesses forced to close, this had a huge impact on Outsourced. Many of our clients in hospitality, retail, etc., were forced to cancel their staff with us as they entered uncharted waters, uncertain how long their businesses would be closed.
The cancellations in industries affected others, and there was a knee-jerk reaction with everyone pausing hiring and reducing the size of their teams to save costs. It was an unprecedented experience.
Thankfully, this only lasted a few months, though, and people realized the world was not going to end. While some industries struggled, many others started to booms such as eCommerce, logistics, healthcare, fintech, etc., and they demanded staff to assist with the growth of their business. COVID showed the world that working in an office is not essential.
With advancements in video conferencing, everyone was already working remotely, which opened the eyes and removed the concerns for people to hire offshore in the Philippines. If the local staff were at home anyway, then why not hire offshore staff.
In the last 12 months, we have been growing faster than ever as the world moves to remote working as the new norm and takes advantage of the more affordable skilled professionals in the Philippines. We have been very grateful for this and extremely happy to be providing so many jobs to Filipinos.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
All our staff thankfully already had notebook computers, so we were quickly and easily able to mobilize hundreds of staff from office-based to home-based within days of notice. Thankfully our ISO certification and disaster recovery plans ensured this move was a success. We were already running all of our systems via the cloud, making the transition easy.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
We previously had 95%+ of our staff working from an office, and like most business owners, I previously thought this was critical for staff effectiveness. What covid has shown me (and the world) is that home-based staff can be trusted and be even more effective due to the work-life balance.
We still have our premium office locations, though, and in some cases, for data security or internet speed/reliability, we need the staff to report full-time through ongoing. We expect most staff will be on a more flexible arrangement, only coming to the office when important or remaining home-based ongoing.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Several staff outsourcing providers in the Philippines focus more on call center agents while we focus more on professional services (web development, accounting, finance, engineering, etc.). We are not limited to one category, and the roles we provide naturally evolve with time and demand since we only hire the roles our clients request.
This ensures our business model is timeless (for as long as humans still have work). The type of staff we will continue to hire in the future will be the roles that are in the most demand worldwide.
Your final thoughts
I’m very excited about the future of remote work and the limitless growth potential of Outsourced as we provide quality staff to businesses worldwide.