The market opportunity
But it’s not all bad news. Technology has created a global talent market that just wasn’t available previously. The talent is out there and online work platforms such as Elance.com make this new market accessible to anyone, from one-person-startups and small businesses to large enterprises and multi-national corporations.
For the HR team, this poses new questions. How does a company’s use of (local) talent weigh up against a remote workforce? HR teams need to spend time with line managers to evaluate the tasks and jobs that really do need to be done on-site versus online via outsourced freelancers.
In times of economic uncertainty, a flexible workforce of freelancers can save a company money both in the short and long run. Why employ someone full-time when a project might finish in a few months? If times get tough, a large payroll is one of the biggest burdens, especially for an SME.
And the work itself will benefit from a bespoke, skills-driven team put together on a project-by-project basis.
The office of the future isn’t in the office.
Tapping into the potential of this virtual workforce requires more than just new HR processes. It takes a shift in the way companies are run and operate.
Globalised work relies on technological solutions. The internet has opened up potential new ways of working. Offices no longer need to be places where a core team meets to collaborate and socialise on a regular basis. Companies with distributed workforces are already making use of co-working with shared office spaces like Regus. This doesn’t just give flexibility to employees but adds flexibility to the company’s bottom line.
But many companies are realising they don’t need physical office space at all. Virtual offices, in the cloud, are fast becoming the new business frontier. There’s low capital expenditure and, with modern communication and collaboration tools like Skype, Tokbox and Join.me, employee effectiveness doesn’t need to be compromised.
If the idea of doing a one or two hour commute every single day fills you with dread, then the virtual office quickly becomes a more attractive prospect.
For the freelance community the human cloud is nothing new. And for businesses, tapping into the two trends specified above – the flexibility of hiring anyone, anywhere and the virtual cloud-based office – really does start to look more appealing.
For employers, accommodating the way people want to work doesn’t need to be costly and will allow them to recruit the specific talent they want and need. Companies need to adapt to this reality – especially when there’s such a big absence of talent out there.
The office of the future is mobile and flexible, with employees benefiting from an improved work-life balance. With more and more employers moving projects and work into the human cloud, talent will bring new challenges and businesses will need to adapt to make the most of it.