“2018 looks to be another bright year ahead for remote work.” – Sarah Sutton Fell, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs

The modern workforce is already starting to resemble the workspace ecosystem envisioned for the near future, combining a web of remote, telecommuting, contractual, and freelance workers converging if not physically but virtually on a common goal.

The fundamental nature of work is changing.  The ever-mounting number of so-called contingent workers is predicted to comprise almost half of the workforce within North America according to a study conducted in 2010 by the software company Intuit. Both Canada and the United States are quickly becoming nations comprised of temps and freelancers, bringing with them a new business as usual methodology and workflow, and these organically formed work process and circumstances are trending globally.  So what does this look like for employers?

Remote and Thriving

Contingent and independent works from all different industries are finding that they are achieving excellent results and being very productive outside of the confined work environments associated with the traditional corporate cubical.

In response to this growing trend, companies are proactively evolving to embrace a fluid and provisional community workflow; symbiotic cross-functional ecosystems made up of homes offices, corporate campuses, coffee shop/labs, co-working hubs, and client or vendor sites. Video conferencing and unified communication tools, collaboration platforms, and other technology have become standard operating process engaging virtual workspaces and empowering the gig economy.

But as any executive worth their weight in gold knows true, efficient and productive, networks aren’t only concerned with nodes of space but rather with a combination of accepted policies, codes of conduct, and cultural norms that put forward a strong corporate brand. The explosion of project-based work in industries such as software, design, marketing, architecture, healthcare, and STEM-related enterprises presents a nuanced management challenge for the human resource function to tackle. There are a few critical challenges facing the human resource function as the contingent workforce gains in popularity.

Inclusive Company Culture

The Expanded Workforce: Remote and Contractual Agreements

A major concern revolves around employee disengagement and cultural afflictions lowering company moral.  This presents a serious concern for the vast majority of midsized and large multinational companies.  It’s well known and understood that excellent company culture – think innovation and constant improvements here – is critical when it comes to attracting, motivating, and retaining top talent.  But great company culture also helps in the prevention of employee disengagement and mismanaged corporate responsibilities.  Contingent and freelance workers need to feel involved in the big picture, through cultural integration efforts project-based workers that are given overviews of the corporate mission and company purpose will be more inclined to stay on brand.

“Employers who misclassify their employees could be subject to penalties … and be responsible for proving that the individual is not an employee” – Laura Williams, Financial Post Canada

Pre-Verified Professionals Ready to Work

Another major worry for upper management and corporate executives is access to good quality, professional, and qualified freelance workers on an ongoing and consistent basis. Making sure that all employees are who they say they are with the abilities they put forward including all credentials and licensures. Ensuring that only qualified workers are brought on board – paid a very competitive rate – ultimately saves time and reduces costs associated with poor work quality, inefficiencies, and breach of contract litigation issues.

One very real way of ensuring that any contingent, project-based, worker possesses the skills, education, and training that they claim to have is through Primary Source Verification (PSV). By granting workers access to their own PSV information they will be empowered to exchange this verifiable information immediately. Worker access to their own PSV builds instant trust and reliance between the company and the freelancer.

Hiring Remotely to Diversify Talent Pools

The Expanded Workforce: Remote and Contractual Agreements

But remote workers also introduce challenges such as time zone management, collaboration burdens, and payment problems.

Workforce evolution is forcing an agile system of management. Embracing the hybrid future of work possess a lot of opportunities if managed correctly. The HR function will have to be agile and mobile-friendly promoting sourcing solutions that are both based on the right talent fit for the project – paying the freelancers what they are worth – as well as ensuring that the company receives that greatest ROI for the work being undertaken. An estimated 40% of America’s workforce will be freelancers by 2020.

When it comes to sourcing verifiable talent a good place to start is within the employee network. Leveraging the company’s employee database and network contributes to broadening the potential pool of candidates while directly and indirectly associating specific and targeted talent groups.