In a recent installment of their ongoing Contracted series, The Wall Street Journal delved into the growth of the external workforce and what this means for the future of work. At a high level, leveraging flexible talent for functions that are not customer-facing or part of their core business allows organizations to remain nimble and adjust to shifting market conditions, while controlling costs. With innovation and agility key to succeeding in an increasingly competitive landscape, tapping into external talent allows companies to try out new ideas and respond quickly to changing demand.
Here are some of the central ideas around the shift to a more flexible workforce.
At large companies as much as 20-50% of the workforce might be comprised of external workers. Industries that are highly responsive to changes in demand are leading the way. At SAP Fieldglass, we’ve seen that outside resources can outnumber employees by at least 2 to 1 in industries such as energy and pharmaceuticals.
Technology companies, who rely on innovation to gain or maintain competitive advantage, are also benefitting from this talent pool.
A Need for Visibility
Often, leaders are surprised by the number of external workers their organization has engaged.
As these numbers rise, so will the need for improved visibility. It will no longer be feasible to have such a large segment of the workforce operating without a clear picture of exactly who they are. In addition, it will be critical to be able to use data to inform decisions about your future workforce.
External Talent in Unexpected Places
It’s no longer just the jobs we think of as prime for outsourcing being filled by external talent. Accenture predicts that within 10 years, at least one major company will have “no full-time employees outside of the C-suite.” While that remains to be seen, we can certainly expect to see the flexible workforce become both more ubiquitous and increasingly specialized.
To read more about this growing trend, check out the full Wall Street Journal story here (subscription required).