BACK TO SCHOOL WITH BEEPO

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

Elite Agent - - CONTENTS - Hannah Blackiston

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.

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.

THE OUT­SOURCED STAFF CAN DO AL­MOST ANY TASK ON­SITE STAFF CAN DO, FROM AC­COUNT­ING TO MAR­KET­ING, CUS­TOMER SER­VICE TO DATA EN­TRY."

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