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The Perils of Outsourcing? Really?

Some of my concierge colleagues recently shared an article from the Sunday Herald Sun entitled ‘Experts warn of the perils of outsourcing your life’.

“The perils of outsourcing? Really?” (For those of you who are Modern Family fans, picture Cam saying “Really Mitchell? Really?”). I ask you to please refer below for the definition of the word peril, just to put things into a bit of context.

Definition: ‘Peril’ – exposure to injury, loss, or destruction; grave risk; jeopardy; danger:

Of course I was intrigued and read the article, wondering how many life threatening situations outsourcing had caused, and what on earth these might be.

The article was interesting, with comments from University lecturers and business analysts, and filled with a variety of statistics. However, even though the angle of the article was clearly meant to deter readers from outsourcing, the statistics seemed to support not only the growth of outsourcing, but also the need for it.

…reasearch estimated last year the average household spent $500 a week on total outsourcing, which included entertainment and dining out,”

and the comment from Naren Sivasalam of IBIS World “as more females enter the workforce, people are more time-poor and try to maximise the time they have free.”

The commentary from University staff Dr Hassed and Dr Rosewarne all appeared to be quite arbitrary and opinion based. I would like to see the documentation which supported their statements, including:

“For high-income earners there is some sense that if they earn $100 an hour at work why would they pick up their own laundry? They convince themselves they are busy and can get stuff done for them”

and “very few people are so busy they need to outsource shopping and gift buying.”

The crux of the article was, “There is a type of burden of income and people can be lulled into a situation of being less physically active and sedentary at home and at work, which has an effect on our mood,”

I have two points in response to the comments from Dr Hassed and Rosewaren.

Not busy enough to outsource?

Firstly, the declaration that very few people are so busy that they need to outsource certain tasks is a very broad opinion and one that is not reflected in the clients we service or the conversations I am having with a variety of people, from all walks of life, age and income brackets. Neither is it supported by the University of South Australia’s Hawke Institute research which states that “over 1/4 of full time workers are putting in 48 hours or more per week.” Based on the fact that there are 168 hours a week, if we are working 48 hours per week, plus the expectation that we get 8 hours of sleep per night, or 56 hours per week, this only leaves us with 64 hours per week, or 9 hours per day to do everything else in our lives – cook tea, exercise, spend time with our family, clean the house, mow the lawns, go to the post office, catch up with friends, plan a birthday party, volunteer, support our community……… Phew! And you say we’re not busy enough to outsource!

Don’t ‘need’ to outsource?

Secondly, the use of the word ‘need’ is where lines are blurred. Yes, it may be true that very few people ‘need’ to outsource (although I would be interested to see some real data to support this). However, work life balance and outsourcing isn’t generally about what people ‘need’ to do. Often it is about a choice of how they want to spend their time, and what, on a very individual basis, is most important in their lives. In other words (to directly quote the article) people want to “maximise the time they have free.” For many people, especially those earning $100 an hour at work, it makes absolutely no sense for them to pick up their own ironing if it is only going to put themselves and their family under pressure. Why should we be made to feel inadequate if we choose to get someone to do this for us so that we can, for example, go to the gym, pick up our children from school or visit our elderly parents?

I would also challenge the researchers to consider that, instead of outsourcing making us more sedentary, it in fact does the exact opposite. Instead of being in the car picking up our own ironing, grocery shopping or taking our pets to the grooomers, outsourcing these tasks to someone else (a personal concierge for example) means that we now have time to go to the gym, run around in the park with our kids or bushwalk in our national parks. Plus, I believe these activities could prove to have a much more positive effect on our mood than the drudgery of ironing delivery or cleaning.

What do you think?

Obviously, as a personal and corporate concierge service, whose core business is based around people’s desire to outsource, I may have a biased opinion on the matter. Therefore, I would love to hear your opinion?

Do you outsource or are you against it?

Do you feel you have enough time to do everything you want and need to do?

Do you think we have convinced ourselves we are busy, when really this isn’t the case?