The Great Reset is a Distributive Workforce

CRE Workforce Dynamics & Hiring in 2022

Author: Forbes J. Rutherford, Principal, Rutherford International Executive Search Group Inc., Managing Director, NEXTalent Marketplace & Job Board, T: 855-256-5778 or Chat

Introduction: In Q2/2020, Rutherford International asked 204 senior multi-sector industry leaders within Canada’s commercial real estate industry to rank the political, economic, social and technological threats they expected to face through Q4/2021. Participants with direct or indirect authority over their resource plans also provided details. Please note, the data collection was completed early on in the pandemic when few of us foresaw an extended lockdown.

This article is the second in a series of commentaries that examine potential threats to Canada’s CRE industry, post-pandemic workforce dynamics and the probable impact on industry employment in 2022.

Pandemic Fallout – The Great Reset is a Distributive Workforce

During the pandemic’s early phase, the economy entered a political, economic and social unknown bolstered by a distributive “Work from Home” (WFH) decree. This mandate necessitated organisations reluctantly accommodating and integrating WFH into their hierarchical leadership structures. In a matter of weeks, both private and public sector businesses pivoted to a distributive workforce framework. The adjustment was admirable due to the successful scalability of remote work technology, workforce compliance and leadership agility. Where necessity is the mother of invention, organisational agility is its handmaiden.

Distributive Workforce – A Definition

The “Distributive Worker” describes a broad segmentation of workers. They could “work from home”, “flex-work” between home and office, otherwise known as a “hybrid worker.” They could “co-locate between offices or regions,” be “remote” or “nomadic,” never coming into the office. Also known as Gig workers, some independent contractors work in the office; however, 80% of pre-pandemic independent contractors worked remotely.

“Necessity is the Mother of Invention, Agility its Handmaiden”

Forbes J Rutherford/2021

Distributive Workforce – Isn’t a Pandemic Phenomenon 

Before the pandemic, corporations applied flex-work staffing solutions such as independent contractors or Gig workers to 40% of their talent roster. In 2019, 4.3 million American employees, or 3.2% of America’s workforce, worked from home at least half of the time. Long before COVID compressed the WFH concept into an unstoppable overnight reality, tech-savvy Gen-Y and Gen-Z employees were actively lobbying a resistant Boomer and Gen-X managerial class to enable distributive work/life balance. The workers’ motivation to seek a distributive work environment is mostly about balancing life and work.

“In 2019, 3.2% or 4.3 million Americans Worked from Home”

American Psychologist Association

Distributive Workforce – The Future is Now 

Fifty-nine per cent of our executive survey respondents agree the long-term ramifications of employee expectations to work remotely will cause employers to embrace the idea of a distributive workforce and workplace automation. However, the employee should be careful what they wish for, as the employer has discovered the cost-benefit of contracting borderless offshore skills to reduce general and administrative expenses. What was once the purview of large companies, automation, and workforce distribution has quickly become cost-effective options for medium and even small enterprises. 

Not all high-performers have aspirations to rise to the executive ranks of their companies. A career alternative for an increasing number of Gen-Y and Gen-Z workers is to become independent consultants, often working remotely on an on-call basis for various large consulting firms.

“Not All High-Performers Have Aspirations to Join the Executive Ranks”

Forbes J Rutherford, 2021

Forty per cent of our respondents feared the Gig approach to hiring would limit project continuity and team-based interaction. There is an underlying truth to this concern; however, the decision to use external resources depends on the nature and longevity of the project. In the battle for scarce talent, a hired gun might be the brief skillset a company needs on a project or corporate development initiative.

“Effective Hybrid Gig Workers Have a Chameleon Behavioural Profile”

Forbes J Rutherford, 2021

The most effective management consultants have a chameleon behavioural profile. They can walk into a room, quickly pick up on the expectations of those around them and become the driver of the project team or a quiet, thoughtful participant — or whatever they need to be. Hiring a Gig consultant with the right behavioural profile to adapt to the contracting organization is as important as hiring the relevant experience and skillset.

“A Hired Gun Might be the Brief Skillset a Company Needs on a Project”

Forbes J Rutherford, 2021

Aside from moving to a COVID19 induce hybrid workforce structure, firms are actively experimenting with widening their catch basin of talent by reaching across continents into lower-cost talent markets. Governments are changing their employee definitions and VAT tax policies to get ahead of this trend, however, crypto payments, blockchain and smart contract arrangements will stay ahead of this effort. The selective hiring of independent consulting Skills-on-Demand specialists or teams for one day to six-month specific projects is no longer experimental, it’s rapidly becoming the status quo.

Learn more about Rutherford International’s Consultant-on-Demand Program

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