Yeshab Giri, director of staffing and head of Randstad Technologies, says the demand for hiring has picked up in the past quarter. Randstad helps companies—both service providers and captive facilities—with IT staffing as well as IT projects on contracts. “After COVID-19, there is a lot of focus on offshoring because cost has now taken centre stage,” he says. “We foresee a lot of offshoring work in the next few months. While there are a lot of travel restrictions, companies are becoming extremely cost-conscious.”
Sure, more offshoring can widen the expanse of the third wave. But the pandemic has also changed the way offshore units work—from home.
India’s Offshore Revolution
For instance, in August 2019, Blackhawk Network Holdings Inc. set out to build an offshore arm in India. Headquartered in Pleasanton, California, the Silverlake-backed company is a player in the prepaid, gift card and branded payments industry across 26 countries. Its target was to scale up its India centre to 200 employees by end-2020. (It will reach the 100-people mark in August.) The company began simply, renting space at a WeWork facility in Bengaluru in November 2019, but COVID-19 disrupted that.
Still, it was just plug-and-play. Its hunt for talent is on to fulfil positions for its big data, enterprise and emerging payments platforms. “Things are changing very quickly around the world, so we are making a number of short-term decisions,” Leila Pourhashemi, vice president of Technology Business Operations at Blackhawk Network, tells us over the phone from her office in the Bay Area. “At the beginning of March, we told people they have the option to work-from-home (WFH). The adoption of WFH and its success is because we really had no choice. But the progress we are going to make with the technology and tools and way of working will benefit us in the future,” she explains, adding that being hybrid (office + WFH) is more difficult than everyone being remote.
Walmart’s Lab in India
Consulting firm ANSR too is taking the concept of nano-GCC (global capability centres) and micro-GCC to market. “Most people hired in GCCs are lateral hires,” says Ahuja. Now, the race is on for leaner teams of engineers that could cost more in India, but which give control to the mothership in the US. “The only reason why companies are coming to India to establish GICs is to access the global talent pool. We want to be in a position where we control talent,” says Ahuja.
In effect, where it took companies up to a year to set up its India development centre, it now takes three or four months. Real estate could cease to be an important factor in the next wave, as it has been in the three waves so far, though Ahuja disagrees. “Real estate is not going away. Companies feel this whole notion of working remotely in perpetuity is not sustainable because the way you establish that connection with the company is the office,” he explains.
If Ahuja’s wrong, you can be sure India has entered Offshoring 4.0, as India’s engineers code from home for America.