Rise of the External Workforce: The New X Factor for Success

In the current age of digital transformation, no two employees work in the same way. Digital flexibility has fundamentally changed workplace dynamics. Leaders who adapt to the changing nature of the workforce ultimately see higher rates of productivity and job satisfaction. External workers and freelancers are highly skilled, specialized and sought after individuals. Companies are seeking to fuel innovation and maximize growth but what trends are causing these enterprises to utilize an external workforce? Let us take a look at the 3 main reasons companies are in a need to consider hiring external workforce.

Market Need:

The size of the global staffing market is an astounding $436 billion with an expected growth of 6% this year. The focus on external workforce has been on the rise with 50% of enterprises expected to rely on external labor for achieving critical business and corporate objectives in 2017.

A study conducted by an independent research firm and commissioned in partnership by Upwork and the Freelancers Union surveyed more than 6,000 U.S. workers to answer these questions and more. Results showed that more people than ever are choosing to freelance — 55 million this year, or 35% of the total U.S workforce (collectively earning 1 trillion dollars) hence making a shift in corporate culture creating a huge market need for external workforce.

According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends study, 51 percent of global executives surveyed said their organizations plan to increase the use of flexible and independent workers in the next three to five years. There are visible social, political and economic changes that are reshaping the modern labor environment in such a way that its influence will be irreversible and impossible to stop.

The Skill Gap:

Due to continuously changing environment and the rapid advancements in technology, large companies are finding it difficult to rapidly fill and upgrade obsolete skill sets and tools. Many companies are shifting to external workforce of freelancers and third party vendors to fill in these modern skill gaps. There is a rise in external hiring for fields such as social media and website management, UX, big data and many other emerging skills, as they are essential in executing specialized projects.

48% of the enterprises in the United States noted that external workers could provide necessary skill and knowledge which was currently missing in their organization. Hence there will be a huge rise in demand for external workforce and freelancers to fill skills and knowledge of organizations who currently struggle to do so.

External Workforce Management:

91% of Americans have mobile phones and over half own the smart kind. This means we can write code, design masterpieces, and even close multi-million dollar deals no matter where we are. Online freelance marketplaces have been the most common way to quickly find and engage remote talent and have been assisting small businesses around the world in finding affordable talent to perform small tasks or to work on specific projects.

Because of these trends, work intermediation platforms (WIP) or, as many call it, freelancer management systems (FMS) which serve as a “digital bridge” between enterprise full­ time employees and independent workers, help companies integrate the external workers with the company’s full­ time employees and teams and also assign and track various projects.

An external workforce is important to bring specialized innovators and leaders in the organization and as this trend continuous to grow, more companies are actively looking for ways to manage their external workforce, save money and make better hiring decisions to impact the future of their organization.

Moiz Arenpurwala

Marketing Manager @Shortlist