Business Blog No 36 – Workplace Flexibility

You may have been hearing quite a bit of reporting on the evolution of the workplace to a more flexible on-demand and freelance style lately? Publicity on this topic has been supported by statistics whereby a recent survey of ASX200 companies identified around half of these top 200 listed companies said around one-fifth, or 20%, of their workforce would be on an ‘on-demand/contract’ arrangement within 3 years (Australian Financial Review).

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A recent McKinsey survey also identified that between 20-30% of working age Europeans and Americans do some form of independent work. They range from ‘free-agents’ who work independently by choice; ‘casual earners’ who by choice are looking to supplement their incomes; ‘reluctants’ who would prefer traditional employment but can’t get it; and the ‘financially strapped’ who do extra work as a matter of necessity.

The Business Perspective

Even the increasing percentage of part-time workers in the Australian manufacturing sector is an indication of the evolution of this dynamic workplace in Australia. It demonstrates how businesses can move to make their labour costs more variable and less fixed, thereby making a business such as a manufacturing enterprise more sustainable and competitive.

Full time staff are becoming more seen as ‘generalists’ with ‘specialists’ only being added only if, and when, their specialised skills are required. So a baseline of permanent full-time employees is supplemented by part-time, casual, freelance, on-demand and contract personnel.

This not only lowers the overall cost of labour for such businesses but enables them to tap into the super-specialists rather than relying on training up or making do with internal staff to do specialists tasks, which they may or may not be equipped to do. For the company, it is a win-win!

Extending this scenario a little further, the ‘flexible’ workplace is also seen a major attraction for businesses to become ‘employers-of-choice’. Workplace flexibility is seen as a key for future business success with technology being both a driver as well as an enabler of workforce flexibility. Employees are also seeking more flexibility in their lives (both inside work and outside work) and companies are working in an ever evolving 24/7 marketplaces. So, to offer a flexible work environment is a big positive to many prospective employees thereby enabling a business to be able to select from a wider range of candidates in theory.

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The Individuals Perspective

It is just not businesses who are enjoying the benefits of this new flexible, mobile and on-demand workforce, individuals who work in such environments are also enjoying this new ‘portfolio careers’. These individuals may be the super specialists whose skills are in demand and so work with a variety of employers, rather than one single entity. Not only do they earn more by doing this, but they thrive on the variety of freelancing, temporary jobs and casual or part-time employment thereby deriving income from multiple sources. These ‘portfolio careerers’ may even opt for unrelated types of income or may also follow a passion that may not in itself pay enough to make a living. A seasonality factor may also be attractive to some individuals such as tax agents for instance.

SUMMARY

So where does this lead us to?

The evolving ‘on-demand’ world we live in is clearly extending into the workplace. It is a winner for both businesses and individuals!

Pardon the pitch, but I can proudly say that Billson Advisory is an example of such a business that enables entities to tap into a part-time/Virtual CFO offering as well as specialist costing skills on a flexible and as-needs basis. Rather than having a full-time CFO on your payroll, use our ‘Virtual CFO’ or specialist Costing services on a weekly or monthly or quarterly basis or ad-hoc basis thus providing a sound foundation for business success.

Ross – Billson Advisory

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