By David Jodoin, President and CTO, Nynja
The face of the workforce is changing, and it is having a profound impact on the way businesses interact with their staff, achieve results, and compete in the marketplace. Organizations today increasingly use teams composed of a mix of traditional employees combined with contractors and freelancers that reside outside the traditional corporate structure.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 35 percent of the current workforce is composed of millennials, a figure expected to reach 75 percent by 2025. Government sources also report that 36 percent of current workers are in the gig economy, which is expected to reach 50 percent by 2027. It certainly isn’t surprising, given the pandemic-fueled emphasis on work/life balance, and the willingness of people to find non-permanent assignments that provide income, but also allows workers to work when and where they want, and for whom.
This dynamic presents new challenges for channel partners who want to make sure their business’ customers can accommodate all team members—whether on-site, remote, or outside the firewall as freelancers, keeping them in sync, on point, and aligned to get things done.
Collaboration technology plays a critical role, and we’ve seen how meeting tools have been a lifeline for businesses that operated through the pandemic. But are these tools relevant in satisfying a disparate workforce in a hybrid environment consisting of employees and freelancers?
Today’s gig worker places extreme importance on productivity and efficiency, and they are reliant on using the capabilities that allow them to complete assignments and move on to the next project. Legacy collaboration tools facilitate communication but are not designed to address workstreams and business processes. Communication is important, but getting things done is paramount. It is time to reimagine the utility of collaboration and expand the definition to include all the processes involved in work getting done. In this way, channel partners will be able to fulfill this new niche in the marketplace. And it will only broaden in the future as more millennial workers become independent contractors in the wake of the Great Resignation.
Traditionally, “collaboration” in the business world is understood to include various methods of communication, including voice, video conferencing, email, and chat.
Workstream Collaboration encompasses not only the communications piece but also includes the functionalities that are necessary to complete assignments and reach objectives. The processes that might be included are the multitude of tasks associated with project management, like scheduling and human resources, facilities and resource oversight, and invoicing and payment. Other business workflows that may also be incorporated can include sharing content and marketing through social media channels, and digitally recruiting and onboarding staff.
It also can include the processes and transactions needed to ensure staff gets paid. Smart contracts, managing assets as NFTs, and payment methods including cryptocurrency are rapidly gaining acceptance as a beneficial tool when transacting with a global, hybrid workforce. As of yet, few solutions in the channel have been able to accommodate this range of functionality. But that is starting to shift as sophisticated new solutions emerge that address many new processes through a consolidated platform.
Here are some of the existing processes that are excellent candidates for inclusion in a collaborative workstream solution.
In the traditional way of working, projects and tasks are assigned to employees within an organization. In this case, the process of vetting the employee and tracking performance was left to the HR department. When outside contractors are used, these functions are usually left to the department that sourced the work and must manage the entire project. By bringing talent sourcing into the workstream collaboration platform, managers can quickly identify, speak with, and onboard talent, sign agreements, introduce them to other team members, and ensure that processes and procedures are followed.
Smart contracts built into the workstream collaboration platform refer to computer protocols that digitally facilitate the execution of agreements, which are kept in public databases. The use of smart contracts is a critical tool for engaging with gig workers. They are a faster, cheaper, and more secure way of executing and managing agreements. And due to their automated, auditable nature, smart contracts are an easy addition to the collaborative workstream.
Many people think of NFTs in terms of buying works of art, music, or even memes. But this can be expanded to include other copyrighted work products or deliverables for which the rights may transfer between freelance workers, customers, and partners. Powered by blockchain technology, NFTs are secure, and auditable, and are a trusted way to address rights management in a collaborative workstream environment.
One of the biggest problems freelancers face is getting paid. Around 30 percent of freelance invoices are paid late, and some not at all. Non-payment harms the reputation of the business and is naturally a deterrent in recruiting. The collaborative workstream should include payment as part of the business process. Multiple methods, including cryptocurrency, should be included to ensure that contractors are given flexible options.
Planning For Change
Collaboration is not static, it is dynamic. Successful organizations are those that can navigate the changing workplace.
This starts with identifying all the processes and functions involved in getting work done and exploring how an integrated collaborative workstream can be used to streamline the way we work. Workstream collaboration is an important piece of ensuring that the modern workforce gets things done. By integrating proven collaboration tools like meetings, conferencing, chat, and social with project management, content creation, HR, and payments, businesses will be much better positioned to tap into the growing gig economy and leverage its profound economic and productivity benefits. And the MSPs who serve them can help usher in this new phase of collaboration with integrated, multi-functional solutions that better accommodate the future of the workplace.
About The Author
David Jodoin is President and CTO of Nynja.