Think the Workplace Has Changed? Just Wait.

Technology is reshaping the workforce as we know it. Tech is breaking barriers and changing how organizations develop their strategic plans, organize their operations, interact with customers, and communicate. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As organizations become more comfortable with digital processes, technology will play an even greater role helping them attain and capitalize on talent.

Big name start-ups like Uber are a harbinger of how the cloud and other technologies can be used to connect workers and employers. In fact, a November 2016 Pew Research study found that 24% of Americans earned money through the digital “platform economy” – which includes “digital platforms to take on a job or task, online sales sites, and online home-sharing sites.” Another study from Staffing Industry Associates estimated that 2015 global “human cloud” revenue was already more than $25 billion.

The human cloud extends beyond these online services and will increasingly be found within enterprises in the form of online staffing platforms. Therefore, its no surprise that enterprises are beginning to tap the power of the human cloud. Projects and tasks can now be assigned across a virtual pool of talent that can be located anywhere in the world. This reality opens the door for employing those who either possess hard-to-find skills, or who can be retained at lower cost in other geographies – whether it’s the best full stack developer in small town America or a hard-to-find expert on legacy systems who lives 2,000 miles away.

PREMIUM CONTENT: The Gig Economy and Human Cloud Landscape: 2017 Update

This budding human cloud model for securing talent with specific skills will be increasingly applicable to the staffing of short-term projects. It will enable employers to tap people who prefer the flexibility the “gig economy” offers in a quick and cost-effective manner. For these reasons and others, I predict that a large percentage of the workforce in the not too distant future will be contingent workers as more employers rethink their employment strategies and use the human cloud to gain greater efficiencies.

Of course, not every role will shift to this model and like all deployments in the cloud, whether it’s for technology or talent, extensive skill sets and experience will be required to use and apply it. In particular, expertise in recruitment, remote management and staffing will be needed to make sure the right people are hired, on the platform, and then trained and managed effectively.

There are roles today – such as consulting, information technology and other professional services – that don’t necessitate the physical presence of employees where these models are already in place. Unified communication and collaboration tools allow those individuals to work effectively and efficiently from virtually anywhere. These industries are naturally going to be early participants in the creation of human clouds. Data from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that approximately one-third of full-time professional services workers already do some, or all, of their work from home. It’s not unrealistic to think that many of these individuals will assimilate to form the first large-scale, multi-skillset human clouds.

Of course, all of this sounds simple in theory, but as employers shift employment models, their cultures must also transform accordingly. Companies will need to put the technology, tools and processes in place necessary to realize the full potential of anyone who brings their skills to bear in a human cloud model. As these models continue to evolve and materialize, there is no denying that organizations that master this transition will be well-positioned to lead with agile and qualified employees capable of effectively addressing any projects or challenges that arise – oftentimes much more efficiently and at a lower cost.

MORE: Recruiting Talent in Today’s Gig Economy

Jim Nichiporuk

Jim Nichiporuk
Vice President, Global Recruiting & MSP Relationships, CTG

Jim Nichiporuk

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