The global economy has developed a dependence on complex international supply chains, borne out of the desire to minimise costs of materials, services and labour.
In the wake of COVID-19, many supply chains are proving fragile and many organisations are starting to appreciate the intrinsic risks involved in the status quo.
Changing how we work
Factoring in the financial impact associated with immobilised workforces, shipping delays and materials scarcity, it becomes apparent that the hidden cost of risk could end up outweighing the lower costs of offshoring.
Planning for the post-coronavirus landscape, the opportunity is there to approach how people work, especially given the ability to be agile and work digitally and remotely has a direct flow-on to business success.
Establishing satellite office locations may help large businesses reduce the risks associated with centralisation or off-shoring. For SMEs a regional location like the Sunshine Coast may prove the key to success because of the ideal combination of positive business and lifestyle factors.
As of 2020 the Sunshine Coast is home to a new 18 Tbps submarine data cable, providing the fastest east coast connection from Australia to Asia. The cable also boasts a diverse 24Tbps link to Sydney, ensuring secure interstate connectivity is always available.
Businesses of all sizes are expected to benefit from faster data speeds, reduced
risk and lower costs.
The Sunshine Coast is also placed at the forefront of the cyber security sector with the establishment of a cyber security node.
What Australians value
A move to mitigate the risk involved in supply chain disruption, both of goods and services, may not only protect businesses better but also bring the substance of Australian business back onto home soil.
Such a shift is seismic and yet coincidentally aligns with the evolving ethos of modern consumers. In response to the economic downturn triggered by the pandemic there was a push by consumers to prioritise buying from local businesses and producers. The value of supporting the community seems to outweigh price sensitivity and convenience for many Australians.
Purchasing has become more purposeful and there is a growing movement of shoppers wanting to understand the supply chain. Their preference is for Australian products and services to support the national economy, but they also value an association with sustainable and eco-friendly practices. Ethical consumerism is a top priority for nearly three quarters of Australians.
The discussion of reshoring predates the pandemic; however, the impact of COVID-19 has been the catalyst for a complete rethink by corporate decision makers across a range of industries. The challenge is serve customers in the short and long term, protect the livelihood of employees and future-proof their business’s unique offering.
Who is reshoring?
Businesses in financial services and telecommunications industries, many of which outsource a high volume of customer calls overseas, were some of the first to be impacted as international processing and contact centres were shut down as a result of foreign government coronavirus restrictions.
Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and TPG were all affected and forced to explore alternative solutions to support telephone and digital enquiries, as with the banking sector. In addition to extended wait times for financial assistance inquiries Westpac reported significant delays in loan processing time.
In response both Telstra and Westpac have announced a change to their model with each organisation reshoring more than 1000 jobs. Telstra has committed to route all inbound voice calls through Australian call centres by 2022 while Westpac has promised all customer calls will be answered by someone in Australia with jobs distributed across metropolitan and regional areas.
The “regional renaissance”
The move to support regional opportunities is being backed in a big way with more than 10 major Australian businesses signing on to Regional Australia Council 2031 with a commitment to encourage people to live and work in regional areas.
An increase in regional job opportunities could be the key to economic recovery and growth following the pandemic. With many Australians accustomed to their new flexible working agreements, the notion that big careers and big businesses have to revolve around big cities is being displaced.
Businesses investing regionally may benefit from lower overhead costs and greater value for money.
By tapping into the digital workforce and opening up desirable regional work locations for workers, businesses can attract from a wider pool of top talent. What better employment incentive than enabling people to work close to where they actually want to live.
More workers are seeing the benefit of living outside metropolitan centres: more affordable housing; reduced commuting times and costs; more leisure time.
The Sunshine Coast has one of the fastest growing populations in the nation with outstanding education facilities, a state-of-the-art health precinct and world famous entertainment and recreation opportunities.
As people spend more time in their local neighbourhood a sense of community grows, more money is distributed into the local economy and the area can flourish. In fact, the Sunshine Coast economy is expected to grow to $33 billion by 2033, at a rate that outpaces most other Australian cities and regions.
The reality of reshoring regionally
A major concern for reshoring is affordability. In addition to lower commercial and industrial land costs there is a lower cost of doing business on the Sunshine Coast thanks to lower payroll tax and workers compensation premiums.
Financials aside, many regional locations do not have the technology and infrastructure to support the demands of large-scale or tech-intensive business.
Uniquely, the Sunshine Coast offers the many benefits of being a regional locale while boasting technology led infrastructure and a wide and deep talent pool.
OneQode, the next-generation wireless network service provider, is the first business to commence operations out of Sunshine Coast Cable Landing Station with the goal of offering unparalleled speed to all Queenslanders. Further, an internationally recognised data centre provider is expected to be announced soon, making the Sunshine Coast a true digital hub for Australia.
Home to onshore excellence
A number of businesses already take advantage of these benefits with established call centres and technology centres on the Sunshine Coast.
Home to Youi, Auto & General, Get Wines Direct and Office HQ these organisations benefit from the inspired workforce of more than 83,000 students across University of Sunshine Coast, two TAFE campuses and more than 100 registered training organisations.
A place to live, work and play
Coronavirus has influenced and accelerate a major shift in the expectations of employees, customers and communities.
Business leaders need to ask themselves how they can incorporate their organisational values across their business processes from each facet of their supply chain, to their employee work arrangements, and the way this is passed on and communicated with their customers.
Regional hubs and satellite offices offer affordability for businesses, flexibility for staff and better outcomes for communities.
Committed to continued economic and employment growth the Sunshine Coast offers a supportive business environment that is being fuelled by billions of dollars in investment in infrastructure and community projects including Australia’s only greenfield city centre for the 21st century, the 53 hectare new Maroochydore City Centre.
Sunshine Coast Council welcomes and supports the growth of local businesses and the establishment of new ones in the region.