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There are so many terms thrown around the outsourcing industry that it is hard for anyone outside of it to understand exactly what is being said. The terms “outsourcing” and “remote staffing” are two of the most misused words in the industry. They are often used interchangeably and this causes confusion when actually talking to companies or even while doing research. If you’re serious about finding solutions to help your company, it would help a great deal if you knew the differences and similarities between the two.

What is Outsourcing?

To put it plainly, outsourcing is an umbrella term; it is the act of obtaining goods or services from an outside source. This means that a company outside of your own is hired to complete a certain task. Different services such as remote staffing, call centers, manufacturing centers, and many other types, fall under the outsourcing spectrum and are considered subcategories of outsourcing. Think of vehicles, there are many different makes and models:
  • Some are luxury while some are more budget
  • Some are made with specific purposes and audiences in mind
So while outsourcing is more akin to a vehicle, a subcategory such as remote staffing might be a Toyota Corolla, where every Corolla is a vehicle but not every vehicle is a Corolla. An outsourcing company assigns people to do the task needed. They are not necessarily part of your company. You would have to coordinate with the outsourcing provider and your level of involvement would be on a case by case basis. Outsourcing can either be onshore, nearshore, or offshore, meaning it could be within your location, near your location, or anywhere in the world.

What is Remote Staffing?

Remote staffing is a more specific version of outsourcing where you hire professionals to work for you in a remote setting. Imagine being the owner of a tech startup company, you’ve spent your budget on developers and realized you also need an accountant to keep your financial records in order. Partnering with a remote staffing company gives you the ability to still hire an accountant at cost-effective rates, meaning you won’t go over budget and still get the professional you need. Unlike outsourcing, where the employees can either work for the company you contracted them through or for your company in certain situations, remote staff will always be part of your company. You will have full control over them, including what processes they follow. In addition to the staff being part of your company, you will also get to handpick your remote staff from a shortlist compiled by the BPO’s recruitment team. Similar to general outsourcing, remote staff can be anywhere in the world. In most cases, you will partner with a business process outsourcing center or a BPO when hiring remote staff. They will take over the administrative tasks associated with hiring new staff, meaning you won’t have to worry about any HR or IT-related issues, you will get to focus on the productivity of your remote team.

Key Similarities

  • Involves paying a 3rd party to come in and provide solutions
  • Can be onshore, nearshore, or offshore
  • Generally cheaper the farther away from your location you go

Key Differences

  • Outsourcing has many subcategories under it
  • Remote Staffing is a subcategory
  • Remote Staffing companies or BPOs take over the HR and IT needs of your remote staff
  • Remote staff are part of your company, integrated into your company culture
  • Remote staffing is a bespoke service, where a majority of the service can be customized to your needs

The Wrap Up

One way to remember which is which, is to think of outsourcing as an umbrella term, where remote staffing is a form of outsourcing but outsourcing isn’t a form of remote staffing. While outsourcing is broad, remote staffing makes a name for itself by having a niche that involves bespoke professional solutions. The terms get more specific as you research further, with some companies specializing in what types of solutions they provide, such as recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) or creative process outsourcing (CPO).