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Agile Talent in the Digital Age White Paper

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Agile Talent in
the Digital Age
Foreword
In this excellent overview, OneSpace reminds us that agile talent is at the
center of a social, technological and...
Executive Summary
In today’s on-demand economy,
organizations of all sizes and in countless
verticals are looking to creat...
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Agile Talent in the Digital Age White Paper

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Increase efficiency and become more lean by embracing an agile talent model.

Agile talent is at the center of a social, technological and organizational revolution. It is drastically changing the workplace and providing unique opportunities for businesses large and small.

In this white paper, you’ll learn:
-The key reasons the on-demand economy has emerged
-The competitive advantages you can gain by adopting an agile talent model
-The specific initiatives you can optimize by leveraging an agile workforce​
-What companies that embrace agile talent can expect as the strategy gains momentum

Increase efficiency and become more lean by embracing an agile talent model.

Agile talent is at the center of a social, technological and organizational revolution. It is drastically changing the workplace and providing unique opportunities for businesses large and small.

In this white paper, you’ll learn:
-The key reasons the on-demand economy has emerged
-The competitive advantages you can gain by adopting an agile talent model
-The specific initiatives you can optimize by leveraging an agile workforce​
-What companies that embrace agile talent can expect as the strategy gains momentum

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Agile Talent in the Digital Age White Paper

  1. 1. Agile Talent in the Digital Age
  2. 2. Foreword In this excellent overview, OneSpace reminds us that agile talent is at the center of a social, technological and organizational revolution. It is changing the workplace and providing unique opportunity for businesses large and small. My two sons joined a very different workforce than I entered out of grad school. Young people want a deeper connection to work and a different kind of employment relationship. Just as Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty sought the freedom of the open road, more and more young professionals seek a work life that offers meaning, growth, and colleagueship. Agile talent offers that. Technology is playing its part by liberating talent and opportunity from the limits of time and space. The software engineer sitting next to you in Chicago is collaborating real time with team members in San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Seoul. For organizations, agile talent provides flexibility and access to expertise that never existed before. The potential is profound. But this new freedom is not free. Organizations must adapt and change. Is your company building the blended workforce it needs? Are external experts assigned work that’s consistent with their seniority and expertise, and given the support they need to succeed? Do project managers have the skill and experience to effectively manage agile talents and build virtual, organizationally diverse, teams? Do agiles receive on-going performance feedback and helpful coaching? Is your administration agile-friendly, or are agiles treated as second-class citizens? In short, how well is your organization tuned to take full advantage of agile talent? Keep this question in mind as you read OneSpace’s Agile Talent in the Digital Age. Then, get to work. Jon Younger is the founder of the Agile Talent Collaborative (www.agiletalentco.com), a non-profit cooperative research organization supporting the agile talent movement. He is co-author of Agile Talent (Harvard, 2016). He teaches at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India. Jon Younger
  3. 3. Executive Summary In today’s on-demand economy, organizations of all sizes and in countless verticals are looking to create greater efficiencies, become more lean, and increasingly, seek to be more agile. Indeed, this move to an agile talent model is pushing companies today to embrace new, competitive workforce management business models that are rapidly increasing in popularity. Although the adoption of a Division of Labor gained widespread use during the Industrial Revolution, the Digital Age has offered a new variation on the model that can be applied to perform highly specialized tasks efficiently. Those business leaders that support the efforts of their internal personnel with external contributors are not only changing the course of talent management, thereby optimizing their most valuable resource – their workforce – but witnessing the bottom line impact on profitability. In this white paper, you will learn the following: • The key reasons the on- demand economy has emerged • Competitive advantages to be gained by adopting an agile talent model • Initiatives that can be optimized by leveraging an agile workforce • What companies that embrace agile talent can expect as the strategy gains momentum
  4. 4. Introduction Division of Labor and the Industrial Revolution Division of Labor in the Digital Age Opportunities for Workers with Specialized Skills The Virtual Workplace and Workforce Millennials in the Workforce Competitive Advantages The Future of Agile Talent Conclusion 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 16 Contents
  5. 5. AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE 5 Several characteristics of the economic landscape have converged to create an ideal environment for businesses to take advantage of dividing labor among the most appropriate team members for the specific tasks, known simply as the Division of Labor. Today’s Digital Age has flattened global commerce and removed the previous necessity for teams to function solely within the confines of a unique office space. The advent and rise of the use of digital technology has, first, not only shifted where and how we do this work, but realigned the demand for skills, demonstrating that the current workforce alignment is not necessarily equipped to meet present-day workforce needs as a whole. This remains the case even though the digital natives – millennials – now make up the largest portion of the labor market; innovation still continues to outpace skill acquisition.1 Second, technological advances have additionally allowed businesses to tap those with specialized skills in remote offices and workplaces, even on a global level. Finally, the current workforce has demonstrated that it values the benefits that accompany independent work, a trend that is projected to continue. Introduction
  6. 6. 6AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE The concept of a Division of Labor – ensuring the right people are doing the most appropriate tasks as a means to completing a large, complex project – first gained widespread popularity during the Industrial Revolution. Division of Labor and the Industrial Revolution Scottish economist Adam Smith officially introduced the concept of Division of Labor in 1776. Smith explained how the manufacturing industry could benefit from this strategy through the use of workers with specialized skills to tackle individual tasks to complete a large project. Efficiency would increase by leveraging a worker’s top skills and reducing the transition period between tasks in a project. Overall improved quality in the final product would be the end result.2 A second Industrial Revolution, the Technological Revolution, began in 1870 due to U.S. transportation innovations in which Henry Ford manufactured automobiles more efficiently with an assembly line of workers, none of whom knew how to build an entire car, but each of whom was an expert at building a specific part of the car.3 Fast forward to modern day. Though, technology has eliminated many of the manufacturing jobs that were once found on assembly lines, the Division of Labor is entering a new, digital space in which to flourish.
  7. 7. 7AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE With the advent of the Digital Age, the workplace has begun a metamorphosis that reframes labor distribution opportunities that could never have been imagined before. This shift has been driven by three key forces: Talent shortage and skills gaps As the necessity of building and maintaining an online business presence has grown, the number of candidates possessing the skills most likely to result in digital-marketplace success, such as copywriting and editing, graphic design, web development, and data processing – or the desired combination of those skills – has not kept up with demand. Connectivity and technological enablement The Internet has created a virtual workspace that could not have been imagined 100 years ago. High-speed Internet and a wealth of online collaboration tools have made it much easier for employers to utilize outside talent on a contract basis, eliminating the limitations imposed by geography and creating a new, virtual workplace that spans the globe. Of CEOs polled in 2015, 33 percent said they “have greatly increased their use of contingent workers, part-time employees, Division of Labor in the Digital Age Sophisticated digital collaboration tools and shifts in workforce demographics have created opportunities for companies to re-evaluate their operating procedures and discover new ways to achieve unparalleled productivity. outsourcing and service agreements,” and this number is expected to increase significantly over the next decade.4 Workforce demographic change Business leaders seeking individuals with the necessary skillsets have discovered that searching for qualified candidates solely within their own geographic areas significantly limits their ability to find the best talent available. According to a 2015 Price Waterhouse Coopers study, 81 percent of CEOs have expanded the range of skills they look for in new hires, but 73 percent of those CEOs are seriously concerned about actually being able to find candidates with the skills they need. 81% 73% of CEOs have expanded the range of skills they look for in new hires. of those CEOs are seriously concerned about actually being able to find candidates with the skills they need.
  8. 8. 8AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE Opportunities for Workers with Specialized Skills A recent survey revealed that almost 40 percent of global businesses were experiencing significant issues locating the right talent.5 Thus, the need for professionals with specialized knowledge and abilities has increased. Mechanical jobs may have been taken over by machines, but no design for a viable artificial intelligence platform able to replace human beings exists as it relates to designing attractive and functional websites, developing marketing campaigns, solving complex engineering problems or analyzing photos of outer space. Nonetheless, as predicted by Malone, Laubacher & Johns in 2011, “Just as people in the early days of industrialization saw single jobs . . . transformed into many jobs . . . we will now see knowledge worker jobs – salesperson, secretary, engineer – atomize into complex networks of people all over the world performing highly specialized tasks.”6 However, specialized expertise is only one part of the picture. Multitasking, quick assimilation of information and ability to change ranked even higher as important traits in workers who work well in a digital environment. As a result, continual training has emerged as a core competency. Skills related to interpretting data, expressing ideas, solving problems and presenting information are more in demand today than ever before.
  9. 9. AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE 9 The Virtual Workplace and Workforce Technological advances have transformed the traditional brick-and-mortar workplace. Employers are no longer limited to in-region job candidates. If the most qualified person for a job is halfway around the world, that distance can be bridged instantly through a virtual workplace that allows internal and external contributors to collaborate seamlessly. Accomplishing business goals has truly become a global endeavor.
  10. 10. 10AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE As of 2015, millennials comprise the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, surpassing Generation X’ers and Baby Boomers. By 2017, millennials are projected to overtake Generation X to comprise the largest portion of independent contractors as well. More than any other generation, millennials value flexibility and passion for the work they do over traditional factors, such as salary and benefits. Freelancing particularly appeals to the independent spirit of today’s millennial workforce; rather than seeking full-time jobs, many skilled individuals prefer to maintain control over their day-to-day schedules and workloads by working as independent contractors. Furthermore, millennials view less traditional employment as an opportunity to have a positive impact on the world and pursue creative endeavors, such as web and graphic design. Millennials in the Workforce
  11. 11. AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE 11 Despite those millennials who have made the conscious choice to pursue independent work, the impact of the Great Recession on this generation cannot be underestimated. Still suffering disproportionately from the effects of the Recession – during and after which millennials came of employable age – 5 percent of millennials have chosen freelancing for lack of traditional employment opportunities. Regardless of the reasons for seeking non-traditional work, millennials have had an undeniable effect on the agile talent model and are expected to continue to enter the independent workforce in growing numbers.8 Millennials as an Agile Talent Resource 7 of millennials have passed on job opportunities because they did not align with their personal values. of millennials want to choose (within limits) their own start and finish time of the work day. of millennials express a desire to work remotely or want more opportunities to do so. of hiring managers say it’s difficult to find and retain millennials. of millennials feel all of their skillset is not fully utilized. 49% 88% 75% 53% 72%
  12. 12. 12AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE Just as companies are moving IT infrastructure to the cloud to achieve scale and streamline processes, efficiencies of similar proportion can be gained by tapping into the cloud for talent. Technology creates virtual workspaces that allow workers to collaborate without physically clustering together. The companies driving this change have found that many of the tasks currently allocated to full- or part-time employees can be completed more quickly and at a lower cost by freelancers possessing the exact skills necessary to do each job. Add to that their ability to access talent at the exact time it’s needed, and companies embracing the virtual workforce movement have a distinct competitive advantage. Competitive Advantages Today, as predicted, businesses relying upon a distributed workforce of freelancers or 1099 contractors instead of – or in addition to – a team of full-time employees, has become a trend that’s rapidly gaining momentum. An agile talent model empowers managers to better leverage internal team members’ skillsets and create custom teams from a combination of experts across multiple channels. Benefits an agile talent model can provide: • Allocate work to the individuals most suited for each assignment • Scale workforce up and down as needs change • Access specific expertise or skillsets at a moment’s notice • Engage thousands of professionals to
  13. 13. AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE 13 In today’s market, it’s easier than ever to find independent professionals with varied skillsets and areas of expertise. A company can supplement its internal workforce with scalable external talent to complete just about any large project, including the following: • Administrative tasks, including data entry, tagging and categorizing images and videos, video transcription, and translation from one language into another • Skill-based tasks, such as graphic and web design and development, copywriting and editing, marketing campaigns, video editing and instructional design • Management tasks involving coordination of resources, budgeting and project timelines • Problem-solving tasks that require engineering, science or programming skills • Brainstorming ideas for product or service innovations with the help of a global think-tank • Transcription of audio files, which is particularly suited for outsourcing, since audio files can be split into multiple parts that are then assigned to a team of remote transcriptionists who can work simultaneously, rather than in sequence, to return a complete, accurate product in a timely fashion complete large-scale projects Opportunities to simplify operations with the use of agile talent are essentially limitless. Not only does the utilization of agile talent reduce costs through more judicious applications of resources without increasing the permanent workforce, critical initiatives can be completed more quickly, significantly increasing ROIs. Moreover, agile talent may challenge an organization’s conventional thinking and assumptions with outside ideas.9 Whether it’s something as simple as data entry or a complex task, such as 3D animation or robotics engineering, the likelihood of finding an expert with the time and ability to fulfill one’s needs increases exponentially when searching
  14. 14. 14AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE Although the technology exists to make operating in a virtual work environment possible, employers have found that searching for the right talent across multiple freelance platforms can be time consuming, and juggling various online collaboration tools can quickly become unwieldy. In addition, many employers are unaware of, or unprepared to comply with, the complex labor regulations related to using independent contractors. At the same time, freelancers committed to establishing careers outside of the traditional full-time work model often find it equally difficult to find a reliable source of freelance opportunities. As businesses become more interested in incorporating outside talent to accomplish their goals, and specialists find they prefer contract work to traditional, salaried employment, a need The Future of Agile Talent for tools designed to bring these two groups together has emerged. Just as technological advances have fueled the advent of the on-demand economy, software innovations are accelerating a shift to agile talent as a go-to business strategy. Coordinating assignments and deliverables between internal and external project contributors can exhaust a manager’s time and resources. Even with a project management platform, managers often find the process of integrating teams, tracking progress and managing payments to external contributors challenging. As more companies adapt their talent models to take advantage of this game-changing approach, expect to see them embrace a new breed of talent management platform in their quest to realize their full potential.
  15. 15. AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE 15 If the objective is to streamline operations by allocating the right assignments to the right talent, the ideal solution is a platform that allows managers to better leverage internal team members’ skillsets and create custom teams from a combination of experts across multiple channels. A platform offering access to a large network of freelancers that also contains an algorithmic talent-evaluation system designed to match pre-qualified talent with suitable projects takes much of the burden off managers to sort through multiple applications and evaluate individual candidates. Such a platform empowers managers and team members to dramatically boost productivity by scaling operations as needed. A truly effective platform for managing an agile talent strategy needs not only easy access to multiple talent channels, it must also feature a built-in virtual workspace. Robust project management and communication tools allow managers to design project workflows that seamlessly route assignments between both internal and external contributors without onboarding teams to multiple platforms. Additionally, a platform that allows internal and external team members to communicate in real- time eliminates the need to jump between email, project management platforms and in-document comments to collaborate effectively. With remote and internal teams collaborating within the same work platform, disconnects in productivity are less likely to occur. With all talent channels and workflow procedures managed in a central location in the cloud, managers can rely upon real-time performance analytics and quality control measures that apply to all workflows across all teams. Over 50 percent of companies plan to increase their use of external talent over the next three to five years.
  16. 16. AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE 16 Conclusion As the on-demand economy becomes more ubiquitous, the agile talent model is becoming a broader reality as professionals throughout the world are discovering new means to solve problems and increase productivity. Those organizations that are developing agile talent strategies may be ahead of the curve today, but the economic landscape is evolving rapidly. Opportunities to allocate work more effectively and simplify operations with the use of agile talent are essentially limitless. Reasons professionals choose to work independently 10 · Flexible schedule · Ability to choose interesting assignments · Ability to work at home · Multiple income streams
  17. 17. AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE 17 1 Accenture: Trend 2: Liquid Workforce: Building the Workforce for Today’s Digital Demands. Technology Vision 2016 2 David Sarokin, Demand Media. How the Specialization of Labor Can Lead to Increased Productivity, 2016, Houston Chronicle. 3 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dt13as.html 4 PwC 18th Annual Global CEO Survey: People Strategy for the Digital Age. 5 Accenture: Trend 2: Liquid Workforce: Building the Workforce for Today’s Digital Demands. Technology Vision 2016. 6 Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher, & Tammy Johns, The Big Idea: The Age of Hyperspecialization, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2011. 7 Elance-oDesk 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce: Study Results. 8 MBO Partners State of Independence in America 2015: Five Years of Inisight on the Growth of the Independent Workforce. 9 RBL Group survey (2013). 10 Contently State of Freelancing in 2015 Study. Sources
  18. 18. AGILE TALENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE 18 OneSpace is a talent management platform specifically designed to support an agile talent strategy from recruitment and talent onboarding to compensation and compliance. With OneSpace, managers can supplement their workforces with on- demand external talent curated from an elite network of over 94,000 prequalified independent professionals. The platform streamlines workflows and communication by providing a means for internal and external teams to collaborate in a single, user-friendly virtual workspace. To date, OneSpace has facilitated more than 125 million completed assignments for clients such as eBay, Facebook, Hallmark, Orbitz, Overstock, Sears and Staples. Schedule a demo of our platform today to see how you can revolutionize the way you work. (855) 276-9376 info@onespace.com OneSpace.com About

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