Blended workforce: The key to unlocking agile and scalable business growth

Delivering the same (or more) without incurring fixed costs

Many senior executives are faced with a difficult dilemma right now: Deliver the same, if not more, but without increasing fixed costs. In many sectors and geographies, the economic outlook is uncertain, and as a result, companies are reluctant to take on fixed costs, and some are even downsizing by not replacing leavers.

However, the demands to deliver have not decreased. In fact, the opposite is often the case, as enterprises are looking for innovation and cost-efficiency projects as times get tougher. 

An agile, blended workforce utilising independent consultants and skilled freelancers can be the answer until there is more certainty about the economy and financial performance. It allows organisations to deliver the same, or even more, without committing to long-term, fixed costs. Typically hiring managers and leaders can much more easily get budget approval for non-fixed costs, if even needed.

Use cases for independent talent in uncertain times

  1. You need to quickly ramp up your workforce for a new project but don’t want to commit to long-term, fixed costs.
  2. You need specific skills or expertise that are not readily available in-house.
  3. You want to test a new idea or initiative before making a longer-term investment.
  4. You want to keep momentum in existing, important initiatives, but you are understaffed.
  5. You are facing uncertainty about your financial performance and want to retain the flexibility to downsize if needed.

Hiring independent consultants is quick, and approval processes are easier

With hiring freezes, you end up waiting to deliver important initiatives until they are lifted. That could be 6 or 12 months or more before you can even start recruiting for capabilities or capacity your organisation needs. You can bridge that gap with independent consultants, making sure you still deliver.

In most organisations, hiring individual resources on a contract is far easier than hiring permanent employees.

Independent talent hired on contract is typically not subject to the same approval process as a permanent employee. Similarly, the procurement processes (and costs!) if instead you were to hire a consulting firm can be prohibitive. Hiring independents is easier for good reasons. Flexible talent is just that: Flexible. Contracts are either for shorter periods or are on a rolling basis and can be terminated with short notice periods. Thus, companies can quickly reduce spending in case necessary.

The availability of top independent talent has never been better

In terms of quality, the good thing is that no compromises are necessary – quite the opposite. The supply of highly-skilled independent consultants and professional freelancers has boomed in recent years, and the skill levels available are just as good, and in some areas better, as in the permanent job market. 

A key reason for the availability is that career myths are being busted. Skilled professionals have now realised that permanent employment no longer comes with the same security it did in the past. In fact, being independent often gives you greater certainty, future-proofing your career.

Being an independent consultant means you quickly assemble a lot of experience and develop your skills more rapidly than permanent employees do, thus increasing your attractiveness to employers

This holds true whether you want to stay independent or mix and match with permanent employment over the years. The result of this? The availability of great independent talent looking for interesting contracts has grown very quickly.

Outsized operates across growth markets, and these trends very much apply in Southeast Asia, India, MENA and South Africa. Below are examples of independents our clients have hired in the last two months alone:

  • Strategy consultants
  • Business analysts
  • Project managers & PMOs
  • Digital transformation experts
  • Payment specialists
  • SQL and RPG developers
  • Regulatory specialists
  • Actuaries
  • Data analysts
  • Data and Test Engineers
  • DevOps and Full Stack Software Engineers
  • Management and Financial accountants
  • ESG consultants

The bottom line: Uncertainty can be your advantage

An agile, blended workforce can help organisations deliver the same, or more, without taking on long-term fixed costs. They give enterprises a lot of flexibility in uncertain times and, additionally, can be a great way to quickly trial new initiatives or ideas before making a larger investment.

In fact, the uncertainty could be a blessing in disguise, as enterprises that learn how to utilise agile talent models in challenging times will gain long-term advantages over the competition. The question that remains is, will it be you or your competitors?