The future workforce will be highly dispersed, diverse and demanding. People who possess some of the most sought-after skills don't always want to work the typical office job; workers will need tools to level the playing field and to connect with employers from anywhere.
There's a growing imbalance between jobs and talent, and it's increasingly difficult to find a perfect fit for more advanced positions. Forty-seven percent of employers cannot find candidates who have the necessary skills, so they don't hold out for that unicorn. Instead, look outside the usual talent avenues. With work-life balance a hot commodity among employees, you'd be foolish not to tap gig and remote workers when recruiting talent.
Our company can attest to how many organizations are experimenting with external candidates – both remote and freelance – to staff their legal departments. When there's a specific domain of knowledge and need for speed, the option of remote or gig workers should be on the table. To transition seamlessly into working with this new type of employee, take the following steps.
1. Stop recruiting through traditional means.
Insanity, as the saying goes, is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Instead of using recruiters and expecting to find anyone other than conventional candidates, leverage tech-enabled talent platforms.
Based on the project, algorithms can pair your company with the best possible choice in remote workers. This approach can broaden your talent pool beyond what's traditionally available while saving you time and money.
2. Allow tech to spark an inclusive culture.
One distinct difference between working in an office and working remotely is the level of interaction with colleagues. Lack of contact can cause remote staffers to feel like they're not part of a team.
To keep a dispersed workforce connected, start using a collaboration platform like Slack. Encourage team members to update their statuses regularly, network with co-workers and collaborate on projects – but in real time.
You may also want to consider using technology to schedule regular lunches over video chat or to host virtual happy hours. The goal here is to replicate the serendipity and fun of working in the same office space.
3. Monitor engagement and autonomy.
As it stands, only 30 percent of employees are actively engaged with their work. While it might seem more difficult to track the engagement of remote workers, they often display the same signs of those in the office.
Ask yourself, "Are people missing deadlines? Showing up late to meetings? Assigning blame to colleagues?" Monitor employee excitement levels when it comes to the company's mission or purpose. Do they actively participate in the culture? Take every measure to make people feel heard and to let your employees know much you value them.
Apart from engagement, autonomy is an important factor in building a successful dispersed workforce. Obviously, you want to hire people who can manage themselves. It's equally important for you to provide the autonomy inherent in remote work.
In fact, research from the University of Birmingham found that job satisfaction levels are commensurate with a worker's level of autonomy. In other words, resist the urge to micromanage remote staff while still engaging with them regularly.
Communication is the largest hurdle you'll encounter with remote workers – especially when working with legal, accounting or compliance team members. You cannot have the same level of communication with a remote employee as you can with someone in the same room.
Once you have the right technology powering these people, however, a really good dynamic can develop. In many cases, you'll find it's much easier to collaborate and bring new ideas and strategies to the table.
Slack can help with this, partly due to the nature of the platform, but it also has built-in support for applications like Dropbox and Zendesk. This enables you to have a central platform where everyone's work – including that of your remote workers – can be managed.
Working with a dispersed workforce does more than improve your access to top talent; it has a way of enhancing job satisfaction and employee happiness, which directly affects workplace engagement. It might seem counterintuitive, but not seeing your employees every day may be the best thing for your business.