The future of work is here. The ‘gig economy’, ‘freelance revolution’, ‘fluid workforce’ – all terms and prospects that have been floating through the past decade like ephemeral suppositions, have now become a workplace reality.
By 2020, independent business talent is expected to amount to over 40% of the workforce. As digital and technological advancements continue to accelerate, skill gaps continue to widen, key job opportunities continue to flourish, and businesses are being forced to adapt and evolve to market volatility, at an unprecedented pace.
Ultimately, it means that traditional organisational structures are now completely ill-suited for the future needs and expectancies of the future workplace. This is a world in which business leaders need to draw from a much wider pool of talent to build an adaptable team (a mix of full and part time employees, freelancers, consultants and independent agencies) in order to access niche skillsets, create efficient and cost-effective business strategies, and quite simply, to get things done.
In the past, business models were predicated upon predictable commercial patterns, and in a modern world of market unpredictability and volatility, these siloed structures, although rigid and efficient, are simply not adaptable enough to compete with an environment that necessitates speed and agility.
The prospect of moving away with the tried and tested org chart and creating organic networks of talent probably seems a daunting and precarious manoeuvre. In a recent survey, 88% of business leaders recognised the importance of building the organisation of the future, but only 11% of these respondents believed that they knew how to begin the process.
Our aim at Talmix is to make this transition a simple, and less daunting process. And these are a few tips to help your business begin building the fluid workforce that will best prepare it for the future.
First and foremost, there is no RIGHT way of designing the organisation of the future. The whole point of doing away with rigid, hierarchical structures is to allow for agility and creativity both within the workplace, and as part of the process of building that workplace. So, this should be a dynamic process, a product of trial and error and experiential experimentation, and not a one size fits all policy.
Embrace the speed of change.
The easiest part of the process is simply to recognise what needs to be changed, and when. Any global digital developments, for example, will always demand an acceleration of the business model, necessitate adaptable processes, and open up new avenues of work that will require niche skill sets and expertise.
Accept that markets, goals and needs will change continuously and rapidly - the organisations that are prepared to be nimble and dynamic will be the ones that keep pace.
Objectives, not roles.
Try to look away from the org chart of structured job titles. Take the time to discover your business needs and objectives, and plug in your workforce from there.
Is your company adapting to digital advancements, which requires a change management specialist to oversee the workplace evolution? Do you need support through a sudden liquidity challenge, in order to make the necessary AR/AP changes and steady the business?
Whatever the need or urgency, it’s about finding the skills and experience required to remedy the situation efficiently. If you can’t find the right person in-house, then bring in somebody externally who can get the job done quickly and efficiently. Work out if you need these skills long-term, or for a short-term initiative; it’s simply not cost-effective to hire full time employees that are only required for one month in a year. Map your teams to your objectives, and you will begin to create a dynamic ecosystem, that you can plug into on an as-needed basis.
Agility and flexibility comes in all shapes and sizes.
On one level, it’s about ensuring talent mobility – building a fluid network of cross-functional teams, tapping into niche skillsets, and building an ecosystem of full and part-time employees, alumni networks and independent business talent. It’s also about offering employees flexibility in their roles, providing opportunities to move from function to function, developing new skills and experiences, and building their own agile career models.
Creating a happy and efficient workforce model is about being adaptable to shifting markets, changing customer needs, and evolving employee expectations, all at the same time.
Building the future workforce is a process.
As stated earlier, there is no ‘perfect’ design model here. Business objectives will always vary, and needs and expectations will also vary depending on the particular business, employee or industry. So, find a way to assess and evaluate your process as you go along. Form a performance group, analyse feedback and company data, conduct interviews – find a method through which to study the performance of your business model, your employees, your project-based work and your talent acquisitions. Don’t be afraid to make changes if things aren’t working, and don’t be afraid to change the status quo even if they are. The future of work is team-centric, so be flexible and transparent, working with your teams dynamically to build and support your trusted network.
Don’t be idle.
Doing nothing is no longer an option; the pace of change in workplace technology and demands, and business objectives and expectations, has hugely impacted the way in which talent is now sourced and managed. Businesses that build wide-reaching and dynamic networks that broaden their workforce and its capabilities will mature and succeed in this new world. Companies that don’t begin their preparations for the future workforce now, will fall behind.