Beyond office cubicles: the workforce of today
Today, more companies, even the large corporations, are moving away from the traditional office and its standard working hours. New types of work organisations that leverage digital markets and platforms are developing with great success.
What are the reasons for this movement, and what are the options that you as a business owner have as alternatives? Find out below:
Co-working spaces are positioned in the sweet spot between the conventional office cubicle set-up and working from home, which can be distracting when you have the TV and household chores waiting for you.
The relatively low-cost office space that comes fully equipped with facilities and amenities – printers, meeting rooms, pantries and even lounges – is attractive, to say the least. Furthermore, the leasing terms could be as short as day-to-day, compared to private offices that typically tie you down for a minimum of two years.
Moreover, you have a selection of work areas available to you – occupy a booth to work undisturbed, or sit at a communal table where interaction and networking is highly encouraged. The shared environment with other like-minded business owners and entrepreneurs fosters the formation of communities wherein members help one another, forging mutually beneficial business relationships.
One pool of workers that you can tap into are contract workers. Also known as freelancers, they serve as temporary members of your company.
Engaged for an agreed period of time ranging from days to months, they are typically sought for ad-hoc projects and short-term covers for absence. Examples include hiring developers to help your company build its own website or app, which, aside from maintenance, is a one-time job.
A plus point of employing contract staff is the fresh perspective on your operations, introducing new input that may help to improve your business. They also tend to be more enthusiastic and motivated to do well - in order to increase the possibility of future opportunities.
Employees who often travel between locations, such as those in sales and regional roles, or those who have to be away from the office for personal reasons (e.g. family, immobility), are known as mobile workers, or remote workers.
This workforce model is possible due to the computing power and connectivity of mobile devices. In fact, employees’ personal devices might be more powerful than those provided by the company, where the ‘Bring-Your-Own-Device’ policy was born. With this flexibility and number of remote devices, however, it is critical to ensure that your company network is accessible yet secure to all your employees, no matter where they are.
Allowing employees to work from home has its benefits – it has been proven to increase job satisfaction and be a good work motivator, in turn improving productivity and the quality of work.
A possible downside is the disconnectivity between mobile workers and their deskbound colleagues. To minimise this issue, regular get-togethers for casual interactions could be organised to foster teamwork and camaraderie.
A new type of workforce model, wherein services are offered through the cloud, is emerging.
Business process crowdsourcing, or ‘talents-as-a-service’, is the seamless delivery of highly-qualified, on-demand expertise delivered by a ‘virtual’ workforce, whom you may never meet in person. Enabled by the sharing economy, you have a global pool of independent workers who can work for multiple organisations at any one time, from anywhere.
What this means is that you can assemble teams for various requirements. For example, if you are launching a time-limited social media campaign, you can hire a social media strategist pre-campaign, a community manager during the campaign, and a data analyst post-campaign – none of whom are on a permanent payroll.
“Whether your company taps the crowd to test new product designs or improving customer service – it is bypassing the organizational equivalent of the once dominant, proven and preferred brick-and-mortar labour model.” – Martha Crow, Senior Vice President, Global Enterprise Solutions at Lionbridge Technologies
When working with talents-as-a-service, make sure you have all the necessary resources hosted on the cloud so the distributed workforce can access them, especially as they may lack knowledge about your company and its brand.
Many companies have kept to the traditional workforce model for fear of being unable to monitor their employees’ work. What they fail to realise is that work-life balance is increasingly becoming a priority, and that job satisfaction is the true driver of productivity. As long as clear channels of communication are established along with a clear focus on goals rather than day-to-day work, these alternative workforce models can empower your business greatly.
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