Obviously office-based work isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Some companies report increased productivity using a fully distributed staff. And turnover, one-off projects, and some specialized, short-term needs will continue to require contractors — some on site but often working remotely — to quickly adopt the best available talent.
“There needs to be a balance,” says Colin Doherty, CEO of Fuze, which makes audio and video cloud-based communication collaboration tools. “In the traditional office environment, leaders had physical evidence of who was engaged and disengaged based on who showed up when, observing what was on people’s screens, and other visual cues,” he says. “The real challenge for companies is less about whether or not employees need to be in the office and more about how you can foster engagement regardless of where they get work done.”
Hot: Blended workforces/flexible staffing
Blended IT groups offer a standard baseline of full-time staff, with the option to add — or dial back — contractors as needed.
According to CompTIA’s 2017 Cyberstates report, teams of full-time IT staff and contractors or temporary workers could undergo a digital transformation in the near future. “New elements are poised to reshape the concept of the blended workforce,” the report says. “Beyond the blending of different types of workers through ‘gig’ platforms, blending may increasingly involve the use of artificial intelligence, bots, virtual assistants, and other types of knowledge-based systems.”
Ed Szofer, CEO of outsourcing software provider SenecaGlobal, says he’s seeing more hybrid models, including a mix of offshoring with IT teams. “This addresses the shortage in technical skills, and provides those companies with a stable and flexible source of world-class technologists.”
Cold: Gig economy hype
Employers and job seekers both report a robust market for contract work. Part of what’s changing, however, appears to be the idea of gig work as a sustainable model. In short, the gig economy is going through an awkward phase.
“The gig economy continues to disrupt the notion of traditional business models and the industry as a whole,” says Daisy Hernandez, global VP of product management at SAP. “More established, larger companies are taking notice as they examine ways to take some of the benefits of the gig economy and experiment or evaluate how to incorporate to new areas of their businesses. However, there are some sobering realities of the challenges and downsides of the gig economy that are also surfacing.”
For all the benefits in ease of hiring, speed and scale, Hernandez also notes drawbacks, like the lack of benefits and career growth, and some less-obvious problems.
“Companies built on the gig economy model also have to deal with the constant revolving door of contractors challenging them with the continual onboarding of new contractors, scheduling logistics, and inconsistency in either availability or quality,” she says. “The jury is still out around the initial hype of whether the gig economy will take over or be applied to all kinds of industries, roles, and jobs.”
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