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. Mark Kirkbride, founder of hubbul, explores the latest digital revolution and what it means for the future of our talent.
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 good’ gratification. With the “smartphone revolution” we no longer have time, geographical and supply boundaries, We’re always ‘on’, always connected and in the ‘uberification of our lives’. Never before have we been able to buy anything we want, at anytime, with simply the tap of a button. So what does this have to do with the workforce? Everything. 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. Let me give you an example; most recruiters are still on a mad grail quest to find the lost world of the applicant tracking system or ATS – whilst the rest of the world had already moved on with little things called CRM, BI and ERP many moons ago.
Also, the motivations of the modern workforce are changing; the days of trudging to the same desk for 10 years are dying a quick and very welcome ‘proactive workplace euthanasia’ death. We’re swapping the corporate coop for cool coffee shops, fake turfed office spaces and more liberating, almost happy ‘let’s break out’ environments. You don’t have to be a big bearded hipster to have ping pong tables, nerf guns, and twiddly football in your office. People want, love and need choice. So the move to being self-employed where you get more choice of work, a lifestyle orientated work balance where you get paid more for doing the same job shouldn't be a surprising one. That said, it’s now less about the extra cash and more about the choice.
The on-demand workforce is growing; contractors, interims, freelancers and temps all provide one thing: a non-stop supply of the right talent on tap. It’s estimated that by 2025 almost 38% of the UK’s workforce will be part of the on-demand workforce. Businesses are realising they no longer need big permanent teams of ageing skills with a slowly diminishing value. They bring in the expertise they need, when they need it, get the job done and then bring in the next batch of experts for their next tour of duty. So imagine hiring the right talent, for the right job, for the right price, at the right time, for every project. Is this utopian? Yes! Is this realistic? It’s already happening – from freelancers to tradesman! So the question isn’t ‘if’ this will happen for the office based workforce, it’s a case of ‘when’.
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 next-gen of recruitment models and hiring tools will look radically different than 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 a very close reality. 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.
Questions still remain; 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 it? And who even own’s it – recruitment, procurement or HR? Also, is it on or off balance sheet? The On-Demand Economy is everywhere and it’s here to stay. It’s only a matter of time before the white collar worker becomes the latest disruptor.