The Rise of the Digital Workforce

Thanks to technological developments that allow employees to work remotely, as well as an ever-evolving employee proposition, the digital workforce continues to grow, playing a significant role in finding critical talent. Companies are no-longer looking for generalists but are in search of individuals with specific talent and relevant skills. The ideal candidate has experience that can help the company achieve efficiencies, momentum and productivity to meet their revenue and organizational goals. Using a digital or remote workforce should be a consideration included in the hiring strategy for organizations of all sizes.

Hiring a Digital Workforce vs. Outsourcing

Unlike outsourcing, hiring a digital workforce means acquiring talent that is committed to a common vision and a shared bottom line. Many Canadian organizations have employees who work remotely, not only within Canada but also around the world. Finding critical talent and executives who can help move your business forward is no longer limited by geography.

If you think that only junior level positions can be filled remotely, you’d be wrong. Today’s digital workforce includes executives, entire teams, and individual employees working on behalf of the company from the comfort of their own home. Engaging the digital workforce and making it work for your organization does not come without its challenges but the benefits far outweigh the cons if you understand where the gaps are and take steps to mitigate risk.

The Challenges

  •  Internal communications: Since digital employees are not located onsite, internal communications can become an issue, especially when trying to connect with leadership. Communicating via email and other online platforms can create confusion. “When people aren’t in the same room, the potential for misunderstanding and other communications issues grows. Yet virtual teams are a fact of life, and challenges such as technological breakdowns and lack of trust must be faced and overcome,” says Professor of Dispute Resolutions and Organizations Leigh Thompson from Northwestern University.
  • Fitting within organizational culture: Fitting within the culture of the organization can be a challenge when an employee is on the other side of the country. Internally, it’s easy to forget to include digital team members and engage them in the company culture when they are not present.
  • Access to resources: Access to the right tools, resources, and technology can impede an employee’s ability to be engaged in their job and perform up to company standards. Technological issues such as Internet outages can also impact an employee’s level of engagement.

The Benefits

  • More personalized onboarding process: With a digital workforce, management can create more personal and directed onboarding and training programs for team members that are based on their specific role and skills.
  • Collaboration technology: Collaborative technology and programs such as Skype, Dropbox, Google Drive, and other task management platforms now make it easier than ever for people to communicate and work together regardless of location, and the technology will only improve in the future.
  • Wider reach for hiring: One of the biggest benefits to your organization is that you can engage with and retain critical talent, regardless of location. This also helps to establish your company as a global entity.
  • Cost: A digital workforce is a cost effective solution, a reason why many companies are allowing employees to work remotely from home. You save the costs associated with office space, onboarding, and other employee management costs.

How to Make a Digital Workforce Work For Your Organization

  1. Get them physically together on occasion
  2. Clearly communicate tasks, goals, and objectives
  3. Use the best collaborative technologies possible
  4. Create online spaces to interact informally
  5. Establish communication rules and processes

Hiring, retaining and managing a digital workforce will have it’s challenges initially; however, once you get organized and establish a process that works for your company, it can provide your organization with the flexibility you need to stay ahead of your competitors.