Staff On Demand

Some of the most successful organizations are also the leanest. Here’s why an agile workforce will get you further than an unnecessarily large internal team.

Building a Modern Workforce with Staff on Demand

Large permanent workforces are no longer needed to build successful organizations. In fact, successful ExOs (Exponential Organizations) are going in the opposite direction and relying on a whole new type of agile workforce.

Workforces in information-enabled businesses are becoming nomadic and flexible, moving off the balance sheet onto variable costs to create agile, cost-effective outsourced workforces. This trend points to one of the key ExO Attributes identified by Salim Ismail, which allows businesses to become Exponential Organizations: Staff on demand.

Keeping up with the changing workforce trends

While staff on demand hiring policies can benefit businesses, it’s also becoming the preference among the talented workforce. Independence is a huge motivator among a large section of the population. It’s one of the driving forces behind the recent Great Resignation where we saw a record-breaking 38+ million workers quitting their jobs during 2021.

staff on demand

Workforce dynamics are changing

Freelancers represented 36% of the US workforce in 2021, and this number will only increase as more businesses continue outsourcing more tasks.  Commonly outsourced tasks include marketing, IT management, administration and accounting, but staff on demand hiring policies also extend to mission-critical workforces. Freelancing is growing among the highly skilled workforce, with 51% of post-grad students freelancing in 2021, up 6% since 2020.

More professionals are considering contract and freelance work, and ExOs are taking advantage of this—trusting essential tasks and processes to professionals without growing their internal team. Building a large internal team seems increasingly expensive, unnecessary, and counterproductive in a knowledge-based business.

Benefits of the staff on demand model

The best way to build a modern workforce is to maintain a small permanent workforce that is highly diverse and creative and outsource the rest as and when you need it. There are many benefits of building a flexible workforce, the most prevalent being agility and cost-effectiveness.

But, ExOs are also gaining a few other benefits when adopting a staff on demand policy, including:

staff on demand
  • Access to a wider variety of experts to consult on specific tasks, challenges and processes—essentially closing their expertise gaps as and when they arise
  • Bringing in a diversity of ideas, intelligence and innovations
  • Resources are 100% variable cost, providing the needed flexibility to grow a business
  • Retain talent by rehiring the best freelancers on a rolling contract
  • Access global talent across all time-zones allowing you to operate quickly and effectively
  • Increasing workforce satisfaction as outsourced employees enjoy the benefits of flexibility and independence
  • Hire temporary staff without a long-term commitment
  • Enjoy the added benefit of working with well-connected freelancers
  • Access to a wider variety of experts to consult on specific tasks, challenges and processes—essentially closing their expertise gaps as and when they arise
  • Bringing in a diversity of ideas, intelligence and innovations
  • Resources are 100% variable cost, providing the needed flexibility to grow a business
  • Exponential cost savings by not being required to pay sick leave, employee benefit and severance
  • Retain talent by rehiring the best freelancers on a rolling contract
  • Access global talent across all time-zones allowing you to operate quickly and effectively
  • Increasing workforce satisfaction as outsourced employees enjoy the benefits of flexibility and independence
  • Hire temporary staff without a long-term commitment
  • Enjoy the added benefit of working with well-connected freelancers

No matter how talented your employees are, chances are they’ll become obsolete at some point. Outsourcing allows you to access the right people for the job with the most up-to-date skills and expertise.

Challenges of the staff on demand model

While the benefits are immense, it’s essential to consider the challenges of a staff on demand hiring policy. Firstly, hiring staff on demand fundamentally threatens the social contract. Unfortunately, the gig economy gets left out of pension plans, employer healthcare, taxation and unemployment insurance. With this comes regulatory challenges on worker rights and conditions. Fundamental reform is required to overcome this challenge, and the governments that embrace this will create a more thriving future.

Then comes the discussion of how loyal an outsourced workforce can really be to your company. In many cases, they may be working for a few different organizations—perhaps even competitors. So do they always have your best interests at heart, and do you get their full attention?

Another key challenge of working with outsourced employees is the differences in management style. You may be required to spend more time training, briefing and getting them up to speed on the project and your company’s working style. This can easily be solved with clear, documented processes and onboarding documents, along with developing strong, long-term relationships with outsourced staff.

How to create an agile workforce with staff on demand

Thanks to the internet, the cost of finding and hiring a flexible workforce is almost zero. The quantity and quality of freelancers have increased substantially over the last few years, making it easy for any organization to outsource top talent.

Demand staffing initiatives are popping everywhere, with hundreds of online platforms to help connect businesses in need with the necessary talent. In addition, social media and networking sites are a great place to connect with freelancers and gig workers. Some of the most innovative solutions today come from talented people working together in online communities and digital ecosystems that disrupt traditional models. You can quickly build an agile workforce that can connect, collaborate, access data and work remotely with ease. If you’re new to outsourcing, start by looking into what tasks you can outsource and which expertise gaps you need to fill in your company. From there, start reaching out to suitable talent online.

Tips for managing an outsourced workforce

Establish clear goals and well-defined projects to streamline the process of outsourcing specific tasks.

Develop an onboarding process with necessary documents and training that supports outsourced talent.

Set up clear communication channels.

Ensure that your outsourced workforce understands your company goals and culture.

Spend time building a relationship with outsourced employees to build trust.

Spend time building a relationship with outsourced employees to build trust.

Our community’s articles on Staff on Demand

Building lean, adaptable businesses

Staff on demand policies bring about a new way of recruiting, developing and engaging employees. It also requires an adapted leadership style, encouraging leaders to find new ways to empower and inspire their teams, often made up of internal and outsourced talent. If managed well, these changes will allow companies to become more agile as a whole. Encouraging them to move beyond rigid distinctions between internal staff, external suppliers and customers and instead promote a culture of collaboration among all key stakeholders.