How will the open talent economy affect the future of work?

The open talent economy is drastically changing the way companies large and small hire and manage their employees. It is a way of working that lets employers tap into a pool of highly qualified and experienced independent professionals to source on-demand expertise and skills for their company.

Enabled by technology, the open talent economy is changing the future of work, with companies able to hire talent as and when they need it – for example, to fill a temporary skills gap or manage a one-off project.

Driven by the growth of the on-demand workforce, the workplace of the future will likely be highly mobile and made up of a mix of permanent ‘balance sheet’ staff and independent professionals (i.e. ‘blended teams’).

Traditional vs on-demand recruitment

It used to be the case that, when a company wanted to hire a new team or staff member, they would follow a rigid, structured recruitment process – one that was time-consuming and not very cost-effective. The job would be advertised, applications would be assessed, interviews (first, second and sometimes third) would be arranged, candidates would be short-listed, and the successful candidate would be chosen; then, the new starter would probably work a notice period and be given training for the job (which they may stay in for a number of years). Not so with the open talent economy: employers quickly and efficiently connect with on-demand professionals and hire them to work for a set period of time. Once the job is done, the professionals just move onto something else – with no strings attached.

A more equal employer–employee relationship

Traditionally, company culture is built around a hierarchy whereby employees are subordinate to employers. The majority of employees would have applied to a company for a job and had to have earnt their spot. The workplace of the future, though, is instilled with a mutual need for employers and independent professionals to seek each other out. This is because independent professionals offer the exact skills, expertise and experience that companies require at the time – without the expense of having to employ a permanent member of staff – so they are just as important to the company as the ‘gig’ is to them.

On-demand talent to enhance, not replace, existing workforces

While the open talent economy is certainly reshaping the future of work, it is important to note that on-demand talent is not there to replace traditional workforces. Rather, it is there to support and enhance it, filling in any skills and knowledge gaps that do not warrant hiring a full-time, permanent employee. Companies can best leverage the benefits of the open talent economy through ‘blended teams’, where on-demand independent professionals are fully integrated into the workforce to supplement its expertise. This enables employers to save time, money and stress, and to ensure in-house teams feel happy and properly valued.

Blending teams effectively

The biggest mistake companies make with the on-demand workforce is not blending their teams efficiently. If the process is rushed, employers can end up duplicating skills that are already present within the company, or hiring more independent professionals than they actually need – both of which will raise costs unnecessarily and likely cause upset among in-house teams. Another error is deciding to fully outsource big projects when there are already people within the company that could offer highly valuable company insight and understanding. By blending in-house teams and on-demand independent professionals, companies can be sure they only invest in specific skills that their teams don’t already have.

The a-connect approach to blended teams

The beauty of blended teams is that they are fluid and can easily change in line with your needs at a particular time. Indeed, the key to crafting cost-effective and high-performance blended teams is to thoroughly assess the exact skill demands you have before every new project, and determine which of these cannot be fulfilled by your current team. Here at a-connect, we help companies build strong, flexible blended teams by filling their specific skills gaps with the best fit of high-quality talent from our expert network of independent professionals, and supporting them with bespoke business management consulting services.

The rise of the open talent economy will affect the future of work by introducing blended teams that work in sync to support and enhance companies’ capabilities.