April 24, 2024

Scaling tech companies with on-demand talent: a strategic guide

Plamen Tsekov, co-founder of Remote performances and Scale Focus.

The “work game” is changing rapidly, and so are the expectations and needs of employers and employees.

Traditional values, loyalty and standard growth on the corporate ladder have been replaced by a focus on professional niche development and on ad hoc, project and results-oriented work. This has changed the way we look at ‘work’ and how companies deploy talent.

For example, more and more companies are embracing on-demand talent, meaning the growing pool of freelancers, independent contractors, gig workers and other self-employed professionals who can be hired on a temporary or project basis.

As HBS and BCG reported, nearly half of Fortune 500 companies use on-demand talent platforms to access highly qualified employees, and 90% of business leaders view these platforms as somewhat or very important to their future competitive advantage.

Drivers of on-demand talent

To understand this shift, let’s first look at some of the reasons why companies are looking to on-demand talent to meet their organization’s needs:

Talent shortage

Although the talent gap appeared to cool this year, it remains significant. For example, in the US there are still 160,000 vacancies in the IT sector in September 2023. According to a recent Manpower survey, 77% of employers worldwide report difficulty filling roles, including those in the IT sector. Finding and hiring qualified tech professionals is not only difficult, but also time-consuming and expensive.

Freelancers are also often highly specialized in niche areas. By deploying them at the right time and with the right goals in mind, the on-demand workforce can provide companies with access to a large and diverse pool of experts in different fields, domains and technologies.

Employee (and employer) preferences.

The gig economy and remote working have changed employee preferences and expectations, especially in the technology sector. Many employees seek contract work because it offers more autonomy, flexibility, variety and control over work-life balance.

According to Fiverr, by 2023, 73% of US workers said they would start or continue freelancing. In 2021, a survey by Upwork found that 75% of those who quit their full-time jobs to freelance say they make the same or more money. Fifty-eight percent of non-freelancers say they will consider freelancing in the future.

On-demand talent can also help companies scale their workforces as needed, without having to commit to permanent contracts. This talent can help companies expand into new markets, geographies or niches by providing local insights, connections and cultural fit.

Rapid innovation

The pace of technological change and innovation is accelerating. Companies need to stay abreast of trends, tools and solutions. Especially as AI becomes widely adopted, the talent skills gap could slow innovation.

Developing new products, services or features requires significant resources, expertise and flexibility, which may not be available internally. On-demand talent helps companies quickly access the skills and knowledge they need. In the HBS and BCG survey cited above, 40% of on-demand talent platform users reported that access to highly skilled workers through digital talent platforms has improved speed to market, increased productivity and increased innovation.

Best practices for on-demand talent

While there are symbiotic benefits for both employees and employers to the on-demand talent model, companies looking to engage these workers may need to change their processes and adapt to this new world of work.

Here’s a streamlined look at the process that can give companies the best chance for success:

1. Define the use case and scope.

Before engaging on-demand talent, define the work and determine the type, level and amount of talent needed – and for how long. You must set clear expectations, goals and outcomes for the work and coordinate these with the contractors.

2. Involve the right talent.

To locate and select the best on-demand talent, you need to use reliable platforms or services that can provide you with access to a quality local pool of vetted, verified, and qualified employees.

3. Onboard and integrate.

For a smooth and successful kick-off, you must provide them with all the necessary information, resources and tools for their work on-demand. You need to introduce and connect on-call workers with internal staff and promote a culture of collaboration, trust and respect.

4. Manage and communicate.

As with employees, you need to manage and communicate with contractors and provide them with regular and constructive feedback and support.

Use effective and secure platforms, channels and tools to communicate and collaborate, and to monitor and track their progress and performance. Provide proper recognition, compensation and appreciation.

5. Measure the right KPIs

There is no need to judge contract employees on long-term cultural fit, or focus on company values ​​in the same way. To be successful with on-demand employees, choose specific project and outcome-oriented performance indicators. Match these goals to the specific task.

Conclusion

On-demand talent is a powerful and strategic resource that can help companies efficiently scale their operations, especially in the technology sector. By leveraging on-demand talent, companies can access specialized skills and knowledge, accelerate and flex their innovation, reduce costs and risks, and gain competitive advantage.

However, companies must adopt best practices and ensure they have a clear strategy, process and platform for engaging, managing and integrating on-demand workers. Doing this will help you create a hybrid and flexible workforce that can meet current and future needs and achieve business goals.


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