Digital transformation and harnessing the power of the modern distributed workforce

Over the past decade, the global workforce has evolved substantially, and it is accelerating. The drivers of this evolution are many fold. The global competitive landscape is relentless; there are generational shifts giving rise to different work modes and behavior; the pace of technology acceleration seems unstoppable; and business has gone through a dramatic digital transformation requiring companies to have a more fluid, agile workforce model.

These drivers affect the workforce in a number of significant ways. For businesses, the shift has impacted flexibility, cost management, speed and agility. For workers it has affected flexibility, the diversity of work, skills development and mobility.

When explaining the shift, it’s important to look at what is being digitized. It started with digitizing the customer experience, then trickled to suppliers and partners. And now digitization is having a profound effect on the modern workforce.

This evolution affects all workers. Now, work is commonly distributed across geographic boundaries as well as business boundaries. Geographically, companies need to assemble the most capable teams with the right talent at the right time regardless of location. Often a company may not have the skills they need within their workforce.  In fact, today a full 36 percent of the workforce, or 57.3 million Americans, are freelancing and contributing roughly $1.4 trillion annually to the economy, according to research from Upwork and the Freelancers Union.  Among executive-level workers, 56 percent say they have done contract work in the past, according to a Mavenlink report, and 63 percent say they would leave their full-time job if a contract opportunity arose.

Data reveals differences between workforce generations

On the more experienced end of the workforce, skilled professionals are looking to leverage their expertise in a more flexible way. Meanwhile, on the less experienced end of the workforce, professionals are looking to accelerate their skills development and do so by working on a more diverse body of work.

Millennials, or workers on the younger end of the spectrum, are typically less tied down — many haven’t built families in the way that their older counterparts have. This makes it more likely for them to be mobile and in search of a flexible working situation. If they were able to make their current job more flexible, 64 percent of Millennials would like to occasionally work from home, and 66 percent would like to shift their work hours, according to a report from PwC.

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