Many companies are recognizing the power of the digital labour markets to transform their talent model and business strategy. Now more than ever, companies need to be future-ready. Work has been in a constant state of change for many years. It has been a transformation navigated by dynamic forces such as shifts in the nature of careers, demographic changes and relentless technological advances. Since the global pandemic hit, the speed of necessary change has been pushed into overdrive leading to increased anxieties for organizations. As a result, companies are forced into reimagining work, and become future-ready.
There are three main existing trends that were accelerated due to COVID19, the nature of work, technological dependence and re-skilling of the workforce. Needless to say, all these aspects are intertwined with one another, and companies require the right strategies and directions to successfully move towards the future of business.
To reimagine work and make companies future-ready, they must look into work itself (where it gets done), the workforce (by whom or what) and the workplace (where and when)
The Nature of Work
As the dependence on remote work has increased significantly since 2020. According to a report from Buffer, 80% of remote workers prefer working from home either on a full-time basis or on flexible terms. Additionally, employees are also more favorable towards companies that offer flexible work options. Recently, McKinsey conducted a study to analyze the extent of remote work persisting after the pandemic and following the examination of 2,000 tasks used in about 800 occupations, the organization reported that around 20 to 25% of workforces in developed economies could work from home for 3 to 5 days a week with no loss in productivity.
The nature of work has fundamentally become fluid, and the forced shift towards remote work has proven that it works well. With the numerous benefits of remote/flexible work trends for both organizations and employees alike, it seems to be the right way of reimagining work and preparing to be future-ready.
Flexible work arrangements have become the go-to format for employees and employers in 2021, as they are beneficial for everyone. Flexible work gives employees a sense of control over when and where they work, which is important to those who prefer working from home or who might not otherwise have a set schedule because of their responsibilities outside of their professional life.
Employees also benefit from flexible work schedules because they give them the opportunity to try out different career paths or resume their education without having to worry about sticking with one position for too long in case it doesn’t turn out as expected.
Many organizations around the world are already employing hybrid, contingent or flexible workforce strategies. Moreover, these strategies not only include how work should be done but also who will be hired to do the work. The World Economic Forum revealed that global businesses are facing a re-skilling emergency. According to the forum, by 2022, 42% of the core skills required to perform existing jobs will likely change. Unfortunately, however, many companies consider themselves to be ill-equipped to properly re-skill their traditional workforces. Many business executives also believe that they lack the insights and commitment needed to reimagine work without making substantial changes to how they see work itself and who actually should be employed to conduct certain aspects of business activities.
There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to organizations properly equipping their traditional workers while employing more unconventional strategies or on-demand workforce models to successfully keep up with the changing environment.
Despite all the challenges, companies are eager to build workforces that are prepared and equipped with the right skills to not only meet the challenges of the future but also help them learn and capitalize on the opportunities that are still unimagined.
Reliance on digital technology and automation has been the centre of transformation and economic development since the last few decades. It has defiantly been the most significant enabler of remote work and collaborations in the time of COVID19. Businesses, work teams and contingent workers alike have utilized numerous collaboration platforms to make remote work possible. While it is clear that COVID19 has amplified the adoption and use of technology and automation, according to The Economist, fear of technology-induced unemployment has risen as well. However, digital advancement has also been a major job creator. The emergence of digital platforms gave rise to the gig economy and created entirely new occupations, jobs and tasks.
A business owner might think that a remote employee is someone who works from home on a laptop all day, but in today’s economy, the definition of “remote” has become more expansive and flexible. The days of restrictive commutes, in-office work schedules and rigid workplace dress codes are quickly becoming relics of the past. Instead, today’s workforce is eager to embrace technology for better remote work initiatives.
With advancements in technology, we’re able to communicate using video conferencing, monitor our employees’ locations as well as performance online, give performance feedback through electronic surveys and track our progress with interactive dashboards. In addition, remote work is no longer limited to employees commuting from home.
The Internet of Things and the cloud have been revolutionizing our expectations of work for years now. The next frontier is now about broadening our horizons of work and about seeing opportunities for better remote work initiatives.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that technological advancement is the foundation of change. Digital platforms have already been pushing the traditional boundaries of work, and even without the pandemic ever happening, the shift towards flexible work models was inevitable.
COVID19 only accelerated the gradual changes.
A recommendation for reimagining work and preparing organizations to become future-ready
A prominent solution that can be implemented while focusing on different, flexible workforce strategies is employing specialized freelancers from Niche platforms.
As companies navigate new business directions and transformations in the wake of the pandemic, the reliance on freelancers or external resources for work can provide great assistance. In our previous blog, we also discussed how a research study from Harvard Business School is also suggesting a strategic approach to on-demand workforce models for becoming future-ready. The reliance on freelance marketplaces is an essential and important aspect of reimagining the workforce and making organizations future-ready. By utilizing freelancers on digital platforms, these companies can access crucial resources while also enjoying lower operating costs for services they will need instead of full-time employees.
“Digital talent platforms are the new norm, and only companies that embrace them will thrive as digital talent is the future of work.”
Hiring freelancers has become an easy, cost-effective way for companies to get access to experts without the responsibility of a full-time employee. As companies like GE, IBM, Microsoft, ADP, and more are already seeing results from this smart move. These companies have started to see that it’s no longer about reinventing business processes and systems but reinvention through people.
The “people first” mindset is evident in the rise of digital talent platforms. Companies no longer focus on specific roles or job titles but on what people can do and how they can help. It’s no wonder that more and more companies are turning towards on-demand talent models.
A major driver for this movement is that companies are seeing the benefits of hiring freelancers using specialized niche digital platforms that are properly equipped with the right technology, the right talent and the right skills. Since employers and contractors are connected through these marketplaces, they can effectively help organizations with their re-skilling issues, adoption of virtual workspaces, and even implementing the right technologies.
Briefly summing up, companies can benefit from this approach in a number of ways. They can quickly adapt and move through the rapid changes in the business environment. Unlike a full-time employee, experienced freelancers on digital marketplaces can work on multiple projects at the same time and they are the masters of working remotely without needing supervision. Hiring experienced freelancers to fill in the gaps for important roles in organizations also give access to valuable external insights. Freelancers also don’t need any expensive office spaces and have more flexibility to work from home if they choose. Rather than just accessing independent contractors, companies are now accessing experts on-demand following on-demand talent acquisition models. They are proving all the benefits of using niche specialized talent platforms against those of traditional recruitment methods.