On-Demand Engineers: Changing the Future Of Work and Innovation

On-demand services are everywhere these days. Think Netflix, Just Eat, Amazon Prime and other services that are there whenever and wherever you need them. In our personal lives, we have embraced digital transformation in a huge way to take ultimate control of our lives. And the business world is catching up, with on-demand distributed workforces rapidly becoming the future of work.

On-demand workforces offer companies the opportunity to leverage the best talent from anywhere in the world. And technical leaders are increasingly seeing the benefits of using on-demand distributed teams to achieve their goals.

The role of technical leaders is a complex one - developing strategy, setting targets, analyzing risk, and managing across teams to ensure everybody is working towards a shared goal. But it’s also a hands-on role. You need to get involved with operations, to project manage and to motivate and innovate. 

It’s vital that technical leaders keep on top of new technologies and emerging trends that will help them drive their business forward. They must keep in mind the values and vision of the company while ironing out inefficiencies and seeking new ways to boost productivity and ROI.

And one of the latest trends grabbing the attention of technical leaders from around the world is outstaffing.

Already, over a third of US workers are contract workers. And with more than 50% of companies predicting their use of a contingent workforce will grow over the next 3-5 years, the trend for distributed teams looks set to continue.

The Open Talent Economy Is Emerging As The Future of Work

Technical leaders have always grappled with the issue of recruitment and retention of staff. Recruitment can be a lengthy and expensive process – with no guarantee of ending up with the right person. This is particularly true when the available talent pool is restricted by geography.

In its Global Human Capital Trends report, Deloitte raised the issue of an emerging “open talent economy” that was seeing companies tap into the external market available through freelancers, outsourced employees and contracted workers to meet their needs while keeping costs low.

Using distributed teams is a win-win - it’s a long-term hiring of the world’s best talent in which the outstaffing agency not only finds the right talent for each client, but also instills each customer’s unique culture. Technical leaders break down borders and gain access to the best talent from across the globe. It’s the best job for the best price. And isn’t that what business is all about?

The Modern Workplace Truly Is A World Of Work

The idea of a workforce that clocks in at 9 and goes home at 5 Monday to Friday has been consigned to history. 21st century connectivity has brought the world closer together and allowed for collaborative working 24/7 across the globe.

The move towards distributed teams has broken down borders. If a start-up in Silicon Valley wants to use outstaffed teams from Ukraine, one of the biggest emerging talent pools for software engineering, there is nothing to stop them doing that.

Everything can be communicated remotely and the individuals completing the project can work in their own time. Even time zones don’t matter as modern technology allows the sharing of accurate, up to date data and reports so there is no lag or delay in communication.

Tackling The Challenges Posed By Distributed Teams

Even before the pandemic hit, many technical leaders were turning to distributed teams. Of course, there was reluctance in some quarters with concerns over how the relationship would actually work. What we have all seen over the past 18 months is that things can carry on pretty much as normal while working remotely. Almost every business in the world has found at least one new way of working that makes their organization more productive.

Communicating with and motivating staff was raised as a concern initially. Covid has shown us that it is possible to use technology to keep in touch and to gamify parts of the working day to build working relationships. We have discovered that it is possible to empower distributed teams using technological advancements such as emotional analytics. This is crucial in building a culture and making sure every individual knows they are valued. It is simply a case of recognising that on-demand workers are part of the project and part of the team for the long run. We don’t need to look at them as an outsider, we just need to realize that they are making a valuable contribution towards our common goal. Talk to them. Listen to them. Engage with their ideas. All that needs to change is the mindset of there being a ‘them and us’.

It's been decades since roles such as delivery drivers, food service professionals and custodians were outsourced to agencies, and they have become part of the workforce, part of the team. The principle of using contingent workers is no different.

Some in HR were concerned about the practical challenges of procurement and payments when it came to contingent workers. They need not have worried. It was obvious from the outset that, once on-demand teams became a thing, the processes and systems required to deal with the administration of them would follow. Because where there is a business opportunity, there is an innovator looking to take advantage of it.

The focus simply had to change from asking whether it was possible to manage on-demand workers to how it was possible.

These concerns were valid. Temps had a reputation (not always a fair one) for picking up a paycheck in exchange for making up the numbers. But temps were never intended to be part of the team. They were filling a temporary gap. Companies didn’t want to spend time and money incorporating them into the culture, training them in specific tasks and setting them targets. It’s important to note that on-demand workers are not temps. They are very much part of the team, the only real difference is in the admin.

Where should companies start?

Hybrid workforces are the future of work. Very few companies will ever rely solely on contingent workers. But the pandemic has given us a taste for how that hybrid model might work. Balance sheets show quite clearly that human resources and premises are two of the major drains on finances. Often, employing contingent workers allows companies to cut costs on both without seeing a drop in productivity. Naturally, this leads to an increase in ROI even if output remains static.

Of course, there is the added challenge of whether on-demand workers are paid more than employed staff and enjoy the same benefits. This is one of the decisions business leaders need to make. Indeed, discussions need to be had about how the hybrid model can be integrated in a way that boosts tech team’s performance, enhances company culture and improves ROI. And now is the time to have those conversations. The day will come when on-demand workers are an integral part of every successful business. Avoiding the change is impossible. Embracing the change is necessary. Planning for the change is essential.

To find out more about why on-demand staff and outstaffing are driving success in Ukraine contact Agile Fuel today. You could tap into a whole region of software development expertise without the hassle and cost of employing a team yourself. More and more companies are using outstaffing to get on-demand distributed engineering teams with the flexibility to expand and contract without the need for long-term contracts.

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