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Flex Work: Reasons To Consider This New Employment StructureDate Posted: 9 June, 2022
Despite all the changes in the past few decades and all the ways “work” has been molded and impacted by technology, the structure by which we shape our workforce has largely remained the same. Even when we look to build our own companies, it often starts with a similar mindset: a corporate pyramid that grows by adding internal team members as the company expands.
While we can all agree that you need some type of framework within an organization, I believe that a few things are not ideal about the old-school employment structure. First, the ability to react to change can be blunted by an entirely full-time workforce. Second, relying solely on full-time employees could be creating some stagnation in your ability to grow. Hiring is tough in today’s environment, and the longer open positions stay unfilled, the bigger the impact on the company. Or maybe you’re filling positions with salaried workers when they could be better served by consultants or freelancers. It is a major commitment to enter into a full-time employment agreement; it makes every decision regarding that position more complicated.
Many of these traditional downsides can be mitigated by changing our mindset around company growth and embracing more flexibility in the way we grow our businesses. As one of the leaders of a company that assists businesses in finding freelancers, I’ve observed a few positive reasons for incorporating these flex workers into your workforce:
1. The Ability To Adapt To Change
If we’ve learned anything in the past years, it’s that you never know what change could be right around the corner. The pandemic has proven that even the most stable enterprise companies are not immune to layoffs and tough decision-making regarding the employee base. By building in a flexible layer to your workforce, you’re able to more easily adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Choosing not to continue with a freelance contingent is a much easier decision than deciding to lay off salaried workers.
2. Agility With Shifting Skill Sets
In a study from Harvard Business School, CEOs rank access to specialist skills as the No. 1 factor with the most impact on the future of work. The challenge that businesses face is that these specialist skills are changing constantly. Today, specialist skills like cryptography, artificial intelligence and machine learning are in high demand, but not a lot of us were even familiar with these disciplines just a few years ago. And I’m sure two years from now, we’ll see a completely different set of skills being the talk of the town.
However, when you’re hiring full-time employees, you have to be sure that a candidate’s skill set is applicable to company growth for at least a couple of years past the hire date. Otherwise, the math and cost of hiring that employee simply don’t make sense. Tapping into a flexible workforce allows you to only think about the skills you desperately need right here, right now without having to bet your company’s money that these skills will also be needed long-term in the future.
3. Growing The Business With Less Risk
We’ve all witnessed the fast-growing startup that hires a huge number of people and then turns around and experiences widespread layoffs. There is a unique balancing act that comes with growing your company or agency. A flexible workforce is one key to getting what you need without stretching your bottom line unnecessarily thin. It can help your company reach the next level while still making sure your core business remains stable.
Challenges With Flex Work
By now, you’re probably asking yourself: “If flex work is so great, why hasn’t it happened already? We should be seeing companies all over making this shift.” Well, we don’t quite see that. From having worked with thousands of companies, it’s clear that most are facing significant friction when trying to transform into a more flexible organization.
We’ve spent the past hundred years perfecting our processes and tools for a world of fixed work, so we still have a long way to go to make the same happen for the flexible workforce. Basic things like onboarding a new freelancer and even getting them paid are causing enormous friction for companies. Even worse, this friction is only going to increase as we continue to see more focus on important topics such as worker classification and taxes for the flex workforce. This means that a revolution in org charts will also mean a revolution in the processes and tools we have in place for managing flexible workers.
Stability And Flexibility
Despite these challenges and some level of corporate structure being required in most organizations, I believe that many businesses could still benefit from integrating some form of flexible workforce into their existing operations. Not only does it provide the business with tenured talent that can onboard rapidly and offboard just as quickly, but it also expands opportunities for workers around the globe who can now access top job opportunities without being constrained by proximity.
A freelance layer could add stability, flexibility and the unique ability to adapt to all situations. It’s looking like the future is flex, so consider if your company should be, too.