The On-Demand Workforce

It is true that there is some critical mass at which real problems get solved.  The evolution of causes has proven this.  I find that the constant chatter and conversations about women on boards, women in technology, women in STEM jobs, women in senior positions are all good.  The more we talk about, the more it is seen as a critical issue and the more ideas batted around will result in long term solutions.  While some might argue that some conversations are healthier or more positive than others, even the extreme points of view can drive further conversation and creative thinking around the problem.

One of the more interesting commentary I found has come from Jody Greenstone Miller, Founder of Business Talent group.  She has been promoting her viewpoint that time is the real issue for women.  She promotes moving away from quantity as a deciding factor in “A Team” designation, as well as a critical factor in project workload.  Once you remove minimum time as a requirement for professional or project success, you must think about and plan work accordingly.  This is not to say that professionals would not be available outside the defined times.  It is the requirement of time that is removed.  Ultimately, jobs must be designed around how much someone is willing to work, with a structure so that the job or project can get done in that allotted time while still helping those individuals meet their professional goals.  Ms. Miller has validated her approach in her business model.  She works with top talent to define their constraints and find work that matches their skills and limits.

I’m living this approach right now.  I’m choosing my projects and setting my goals on my terms as a consultant.  I provide my expertise in technology operations, process and project management to a small company that needs those skill sets.  The number of hours I work shift depending on the shift in workload at the company and the lifeload of stuff that happens outside of work.  I make myself more available when my family is at work and school, and less available when they are home.  This does not mean everything ceases.  I will still take calls, and periodically scan and respond to emails, but I’m not sitting in front of my computer actively acting on my task list. I add value to the organization for which I’m consulting.

Wingham Rowan, Founder of Slivers-of-Time, spoke about this new type of job market at a TedSalon Talk in November 2012. His premise is that employers can absolutely use a pool of extremely flexible, talented, skills workers.  While his focus leans toward service oriented businesses, however I think the premise can be expanded to our entire economy.  Business fluctuates and it would be beneficial for organizations to have access to talented, skilled employees to fulfill projects and processes.  The ability to have access to this pool of people on relatively short notice would be incredibly beneficial.  This would allow businesses to stay lean and enhance skills and talents as needed.  This model is being supported by services like Guru and oDesk (I’m sure there are several others, but these are the ones that come to mind).

At the end of the day, does it really matter how or when you complete tasks or accomplish your goals?  It does require that the expectations are clear and goals are aligned.  It’s all about the on-demand workforce to support the on-demand economy.

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