March 23, 2020
Reporting on how the 2019 Novel Coronavirus will impact supply chains on a global scale may seem like throwing darts at a board while blindfolded. Despite the trepidation on behalf of policymakers and so-called financial gurus, one thing is certain; the global demand for offshoring and remote working will skyrocket in the coming months.
According to a recent article from the Harvard Business Review, statements on how COVID-19 will impact manufacturing operations around the world vary in severity. The article suggests that by mid-March, the virus’ impact will reach its peak on global supply chains. This peak, the authors add, will temporarily shut down assembly and manufacturing plants across the United States and Europe (heavily impacted corporations thus far are entities that rely heavily on Chinese-assembled materials.)
Addressing the nation from the White House, President Donald Trump attempted to ease the concerns of business owners across the world; in addition to a $50 billion stimulus package for small businesses, Trump also announced a 30-day travel ban for Europeans wishing to visit the U.S. This ban, however, excludes the United Kingdom, which only has approximately 400 cases of the virus as of Wednesday.
These economic and procedural questions will continue in the coming weeks and months; in the meantime, however, taking into consideration measures implemented by behemoths like Amazon and Microsoft, companies large and small are beginning to realize the advantages of remote work and offshoring. Countries like Vietnam, which has a thriving offshore culture has already delved into a culture of remote working.
Corporations such as IBM have a storied history of offshoring to Vietnam — with good reason, too — the country’s population of 90 million is heavily comprised of young, tech-savvy workers (that make up 65 percent of the population.) Furthermore, over 250 colleges and universities in the country offer IT and computer-related programs that see over 100,000 graduates per year.
In the previously-mentioned example, IBM, the company said it is wishing to offshore approximately 80 percent of its operations; as of now, the country has more employees in India and Vietnam than it does across the rest of the world.
Human resource departments around the globe are hard at work preparing contingency plans for distanced employees; although this may be the case, the COVID-19 outbreak did not spark the concept of working remotely; according to FlexJobs, in fact, 4.7 million Americans work this way. This statistic is more astonishing considering that five years ago the remote workforce was about one million people less. Although the 2019 Novel Coronavirus did not create remote working, it will certainly expedite the inevitable sway towards it.
The stigma surrounding remote working exists on both sides of the employer/employee relationship; while the stereotypical ‘mean boss’ may view remote workers as isolated or lazy, those same workers may feel slighted or pushed aside when compared to in-person peers. Although these conceptions (or misconceptions, rather) may exist in the collective consciousness, the increased number of remote workers and offshoring in the coming months will show companies that there is nothing to be afraid of.
Take Da Nang, for example; the Central Vietnamese city has been dubbed ‘the Silicon Valley of Asia’ and boasts lively offshoring and remote working communities. The world turns to the city, and companies such as Xenia Tech, for its cost-effective app and web developing needs. Although offshoring does have risks, such as cultural misunderstandings or lack of oversight, these pitfalls boil down to account management and customer service, not the nature of remote work.
Even though countless articles are written every day about the ‘gloom and doom’ of the COVID-19 outbreak, companies are already adjusting to the reality of remote work. As coronavirus-related fears begin to die down, remote working will emerge with less stigma and strengthened numbers on a global scale.