Everything is happening at once — disruptive technologies, elevated customer expectations, a demanding workforce, and changes that require numerous different skills from your people — and it’s all happening at a pace at which there’s no time to lose.
There is definitely a level of anxiety that many organizations are feeling about having to prepare and reorganize for increased automation and welcoming bots into your workforce.
Luckily, there is another trend that’s gaining traction, and — good news — it involves human beings, a basically known entity/factor.
That trend involves greater use of and different models for usage of contingent workers — free-range talent with specialized capabilities that you might need, but perhaps outside of the model and processes you are more comfortable with for your organization.
It’s time to take another look
Contingent workforce platforms are evolving, along with the breadth of skills available in the contingent workforce, into an ideal alternative to staffing models for traditional service delivery. Freelance labor has been around forever, but, today, increasingly robust online platforms are setting the stage for a seamless, cost-effective, “boundaryless” workforce.
This labor pool is packed with the skills you need, located anywhere in the world, and ready to jump right in when you need them. Plus, we have made great progress in areas such as cybersecurity, on-boarding, and quality of work, factors which previously made employers hesitant to consider contingent workers for risk and cost reasons.
Contingent worker platforms are available now to provide organizations with the agility they need, via human resources, to take advantage of transformative opportunities without having to hire new employees or use a service provider in a more traditional manner.
Outsourcing corporate back-office work such as customer service or IT has been effective—but these days, in the time it takes to identify potential partners, complete negotiations and staff up, manage and govern the efforts, the opportunity could be gone, gone, gone.
Meet the boundaryless workforce: virtual talent across the globe with the specific skills organizations need to meet certain staffing needs now, not ex post facto. It’s a strategy that many global business services (GBS) leaders are adopting to increase their responsiveness with a global pool of talent who can work virtually, from anywhere, at any time.
In fact, results from our recent State of Operations and Outsourcing study of Global 2,000 firms indicate that when it comes to augmenting their internal talent pools, organizations are largely looking outward. Forty-seven percent are now using contingent labor to extend their internal team.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the whys, whos, whens, and whats of considering contingent worker platforms.
What’s the fuss?
The contingent workforce model definitely brings some significant benefits to the table:
- Greater flexibility. Your risk is reduced because flexible contingent workforce arrangements reduce the pressures of employment or service contracts. There’s one major burden lifted.
- Jobs anywhere. You’ll have access to talent across the globe; you aren’t limited to where your company’s or your service providers’ active sites.
- Project fluidity. With a growing resource pool, employers like you will have access to many more options for talent, which means less time to wait for the just-right resources.
- Greater opportunity. Now you will be able to easily identify talent with special skill sets who may have been unavailable in the past—or someone you never needed before. Having the right people in place makes it easier to seize opportunity.
- Fair pay. Contingent workforce platforms eliminate service provider fees. Local pay scales also can help you establish a cost structure to meet project budgets. There is also greater opportunity to develop compensation models to attract and retain the much more highly skilled talent needed and increasingly available via the contingent labor model.
What kind of workers are people hiring?
The greatest demand for freelance support has been for software development and technology skills. But this is broadening to include professional services workers, such as designers, project managers, and financial and independent experts with advanced degrees.
This playing field will certainly expand as organizations become more digital enterprises and require new skills to support both internal and customer-facing needs. Having the ability to skill up and scale up with a contingent workforce in only days, and at a lower cost, is a compelling draw.
When is it a good fit?
If the work can be done virtually, it potentially can be handled on a contingent workforce platform. To date, staffing people to handle certain standardized skill sets—for example, financial processes—has been consistently successful in the contingent workforce platform model, though often historically the work of these roles was transactional in nature. Which means enhanced platforms with access to more diverse skills could have a transformative positive impact on your performance and operational efficiency.
It can also support a hybrid environment, with contingent workers handling some of the tasks, leaving other in-house or in-place resources to focus on more complex or locally centric (e.g., required higher-end functional industry, functional or client-specific activities.
The greatest demand for freelance support has historically been for software development and technology skills. But this is broadening to include other professional services work, such as designers, project managers, data scientists, cybersecurity, and financial and independent experts with advanced degrees.
It all comes down to the level of comfort and compatibility you establish with your freelancers—the skilled assistance with your workload and freedom of an on-demand workforce can be an alternative with many advantages.
When is it a no-go?
There are some instances where for now, at least, organizations may want to stick with more traditional service delivery, using your in-house staff or regular service providers. For example, the complexity of your operations and IT environment can make a difference. If you’ll need resources to manage highly customized global finance processes running off a patchwork of technology platforms—you may want to hold off on a contingent workforce for now.
Another strong factor for success is whether a legacy company has been through digital transformation yet. If not, they may find integrating virtual contingent workers to be a challenge, while more streamlined, tech-savvy organizations can adapt to this model more easily, though on the other hand digital transformation may requires skills not adequately available internally but accessible via external workers.
A Back-office Support System for Today
Cost savings. Vetted talent, anywhere in the world, available virtually. The skills you need, when you need them—in days rather than months. It’s the right answer for so many questions and the right solution for a number of current business hot buttons.
Sure, it’s not the answer for every back-office function and as noted, not right for every organization. But it is evolving and becoming an attractive alternative service delivery model for organizations that need skilled support for their workload and the freedom of an on-demand, virtual workforce. Its many advantages are worth exploring.