Outstaffing or how companies exist without offices
What is outstaffing, how it works, and why companies start to practice it more often.
Just a few years ago this title would confuse every office worker, but today it is one of the most common topics for those who are looking for a job and for those who are looking for employees. New trends with a delay, but finally make their way into our work life. The terms "outsourcing", "freelance" and "outstaffing" settled down in our vocabulary and of course in our CV. Freelancers, who used to seem irresponsible weirdos to all office workers, are becoming more in demand every day. And, if at the initial stage of freelance, the leading field was IT, now remote work is relevant in all possible sectors.
In central Europe, about 10% of employees work remotely and in the USA the indicator has reached 36%. And it is growing every month.
Ukraine still trying to reach this scale and "Generation Y" is working on this. Thanks to the influence of world's largest online workplaces as Upwork, Freelancer, Toptal, etc. Using these networks every employer can hire part-time freelancers just for one project and save good money on it.
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After this came outsourcing — the process when a company takes tasks and provides services or manufactures products for another company. For example, it makes much more sense to use the services of an IT company to create a site for your organization than to hire a whole department for this purpose. This also applies to accounting, logistics, transportation, etc.
So we have reached the next level — outstaffing
Outstaffing is a fairly new business structure. Sometimes, just for fun, people call it "homeless companies" and "new bums", but the whole point is that companies partially or completely hire employees from remote locations. Many large corporations, such as Google, Apple and Facebook, are practicing partly outstaffing for quite a long time now. Because of this work system, the company can hire employees around the world, without being tied up to specific location. A lot of companies owners say that a full-time refusal from the office can save you time and refuse the efforts.
But sometimes even the most comfortable office, located next to parks, restaurants and all the other places where you would like to go for a lunch, doesn’t exclude the outstaffing. The recent news from Automattic, which owns the WordPress, is a great example. As Quartz reports, the company’s office in San Francisco went on the market because employees never come there. It turned out that to company’s office, with a total area of 1.4 thousand square meters, daily come only 5 people out of 550! The rest of them have long chosen a remote way of working. According to CEO Matt Mullenweg, the corporation has similar offices in Cape Town, South Africa and Portland, Maine, where management pay extra $ 250 to employees if they want to work in one of the corporate offices. If people choose as a working space, say, a Starbucks coffee shop, then Automattic pays for the coffee.
According to statistics, a quarter of working Americans choose freelancing, but at the same time, they work more hours per week than office employees.
But not all large corporations agree with this method. For example, IBM and Yahoo adhere to the conservative point of view and hire employees just for work in offices. According to their opinion, the team spirit is much stronger when people work side by side every day and know each other pretty well.
The software development company Elastic has found an alternative decision. It has 500 employees in more than 35 countries and doesn’t have an office. But management still believes that if all of the employees will meet each other in real life, their work will bring better results. Therefore, to maintain the team spirit, Elastic twice a year (once in the US and once in Europe) brings together all employees.
Over the past few years, there are more companies owners from Ukraine start to follow the example of their colleagues from the West. But for many Ukrainians, outstaffing is still something they need to explore more.
One of the most common mistakes is to doubt the team discipline and accomplishment by them the deadlines goals. A horror story about how crazy bosses spy on their team through software installed on computers and web camera spread by word of mouth.
But in real life, all lazy and irresponsible candidates for the position are usually dropped out at the internship stage. So employees that complete that period successfully automatically gain the trust.
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For those who still have doubts, we want to dispel this myth. In fact, working remotely, employees learn to rationally plan their time and management to trust their team. In the end of the day, the main indicator of productivity will always be the work that done in time. And at what part of the day often goes to the second, or even to the third plan.
“But, what about business negotiations?” you may ask. If you don’t own an office it doesn’t cancel business meetings online. For example, Skype is a true savior for international negotiations. And don’t put good old cafes and restaurants out to pasture. In the second case, the atmosphere can also help.
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Let's compare two similar companies with the same amount of people, but one of them wouldn't have an office. They also have same needs: legal services, advertising, create a website and logo and salaries. Both companies spend the same amount of money on that stage, so let's not take it into account in our calculations. So let’s move to “office” part, shall we?
To rent an office in the center of Kyiv is kind of a luxury option for a beginner, so our potential workspace will be located in the surrounding areas. For 10 people you need about 60-70 square meters of area. In Obolonskyi District the price for future office space ranges from 10,000 to 30,000 UAH per month. For calculations, we are going to use the middle number, say, 20,000 UAH per month. So, to begin with, we need to do repairs and purchase equipment and furniture.
In the office we need to maintain cleanliness and have someone to fix all technical issues to make sure that computers won’t let you down at the worst possible time. So, in other words, you need to hire the cleaning company and the system administrator.
Every good boss has to encourage his employees to make them happier and better workers. So we need to count a membership to a swimming pool or gym, English lessons with a native speaker and cookies with a coffee a couple of times a day.
outstaffing
As you can see, outstaffing will help you to save a good money. But that system of work organization can’t fully apply for all types of business. For example, 100% outstaffing is not an option for an architectural workshop. In this case, you need to consider the specifics of the company's work.
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SFG is a good example of a company without an office
For SFG there are no restrictions. We are not forcing ourselves into the framework of the office. Our employees work from any place they can find inspiration. We are currently locating in 3 Ukrainian cities: Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro. SFG was founded in 2014 and from our first day we are practicing outstaffing. Over time, a circle of friends turned into a team of 25 people, some of whom, by the way, never met with each other in real life.
“In SFG everything is so different from places I worked before. The coolest thing is, that you kind of work by yourself, but at the same time you are a part of something huge!”
Yegor Donenko, UI/UX Expert
The main feature of outstaffing is that company doesn’t have to have every single department that exists. We hire different specialists that we need for a specific project. Using the Lego constructor principle, we build exactly that figure that perfectly fits the needs of the customer. That's why our portfolio has such wide range of projects — from sites creation to the filming of sports events.
Of course, every project requires different components
For the professional voice acting for Jumbosell application commercial, we worked with a recording studio with its sound engineer and announcer. Thus, for the duration of the project, the entire studio team became a full-fledged part of the SFG.

© hi5.production
On the shooting of Interpipe Dnipro Half Marathon, we worked on the same principle. All the necessary parts of the team such as photographers, operators, journalists, moped drivers, etc. were hired specifically for the project.
interpipe dnipro half marathon, sfg.ua team
© sfg.ua
The entire project, starting with the creation and implementation, is controlled by two managers. This process can be compared with the work of film producers, who is responsible for the film from the moment the idea was born to the end of the rental in cinemas.
At each stage, we work with specific specialists. The control of big, long-term projects is carried out in the project management system, which clearly forming the task, displays all stages, shows results, and so on. Usually, employees communicate with each other by corporate mail or messenger.
Some people think that large corporations don’t work with outstaffing companies. On the contrary, for business giants, that kind of collaborations save both time and resources. For example, we successfully worked with Toyota, Greenfield, Nutella, Coca-Cola and many other companies.
As we have already said, outstaffing is a great option for saving your finances and organizing personal time for employees. It requires really high responsibility both from employees and from management. Because your company’s reputation directly deepens on how well you organize all business processes.
But in any case, you need to remember that wherever you are: in the office or on the bench in the park, the original idea of any company should remain quality work and atmosphere in the team.
By Ekaterina Palanchuk
2017