Time for the 'Uberization' of the workforce.

Words, Mark Kirkbride, hubbul

Whether you’ve heard the term ‘on-demand economy’ or not, I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that you already use it on a regular basis.

From Spotify, AirBnB, to Uber, Just-Eat, Handy and Zesty, the on-demand economy makes these products available to those who need it, immediately. It’s the real-time fulfilment of goods and services with instant, self served, ‘God that’s so f-ing good’ gratification.

With the smartphone revolution we no longer have time, geographical and supply boundaries. We’re always ‘on’, forever connected and in the ‘uberification of our lives’. Never before have we been able to buy anything, anytime, in a few simple taps.

You're probably wondering what this has to do with the workforce? Everything. I'll explain...

Let’s face it, technology has made us lazy and the on-demand economy works best when transforming industries which have historically been clinging on and slow to innovate. In other words, the recruitment industry.

Most recruiters are still on a mad grail quest to find the lost world of the applicant tracking system or 'ATS' - while the rest of the world had already moved on with little things called CRM, BI and ERP many moons ago. But enough of the jargon, I'll cut to the chase.

The motivations of the modern workforce have changed. And the days of trudging to the same desk for 10 years are dying a quick - not to mention - very welcome death. We’re swapping the corporate coop for cool coffee shops, hipster work-hubs, our own homes and other environments where we're happier, and dare I say it, even liberated.

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People want, love and need choice - it's only natural. So the move to being self-employed where you're free to choose when you work, as well as typically getting paid more, makes perfect sense.

The on-demand workforce is growing; freelancers, contractors, interims and temps all provide one thing - a non-stop supply of talent on tap. It’s estimated that by 2025 almost 38% of the UK’s workforce will be part of the on-demand workforce. Amazing when you think about it isn't it?

Influenced by this workforce revolution, businesses are realising they no longer need big permanent teams of ageing skills with a slowly diminishing value. 

They now bring in the expertise they need, when they need it, to get the job done before bringing in the next bath of freelancers for their next tour of duty. Imagine hiring the right talent, for the right job, for the right price, at the right time, for every project. Wouldn't that be nice?

Is this utopian? Yes. Is this realistic? It’s already happening - from freelancers right through to tradesman. And, if you think the demand for booking cabs, ordering takeaways and renting property is high- it’s estimated that by 2025 the need for a workforce on-demand will outperform the need for these ‘luxury consumer’ services.

The rise of independent working will change the recruitment game forever. Next-gen recruitment models will look, feel and perform radically different to the ones we use today. With foundations built on trust and a continuous need for one another, hiring the right person in a single tap is within our grasp.

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Cost models will change and liberate a market, which in truth, commercially still remains in antiquity. Subscription, consumption and pay as you go pricing will become common place and the middleman will feel a tight and well overdue squeeze. 

Of course, challenges - or more accurately - questions around 'Uberization' of the workplace have emerged.

  • Will the on-demand bubble burst?
  • How will we we adapt to the growing on-demand workforce?
  • How do we manage a hybrid organisation?
  • What does it do to the workplace culture?
  • How do we govern a workforce on-demand?
  • How do we hire today, for the future resource plans?
  • Who owns the on-demand workforce - recruitment, finance or HR? 
  • What are the performance management metrics?
  • How do we integrate it?
  • Is it on or off balance sheet?

One answer is for sure, the on-demand economy is everywhere and it’s here to stay.  And it’s only a matter of time before the white collar worker becomes the latest disruptor.

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