Freelance independent consultant marketplaces allow SMEs to compete asymmetrically.

In this article Dr Dorel Iosif, discusses the structural changes associated with the rise of the remote work and hybrid workforce.

The marketplace is changing, for both business owners and those seeking employment. The rise of high velocity markets and an increase in global mobility has led to a unique set of challenges.

Small and medium enterprises are, of course, most impacted by these challenges. Despite making up an estimated 95% of global business (and 80% of global employment), they often struggle to carve out a market share and reach their proverbial “escape velocity.” A blended workforce strategy can be an efficient tool when it comes to managing flexibility, multiple strategic initiatives, specialized work packages and costs.

Talent Migration and the Rise of On-Demand Marketplaces

Traditionally speaking, businesses seeking employees with a specific set of skills would simply advertise the position in local forums and hire the best applicant to fill the role. As it has become more common to travel for employment and education, both employment opportunities and the individuals with the skills to capitalize on them have started to gather in specific locations.

Silicon Valley is a perfect example of the results of the talent migration and the geographical pooling of certain industries, which Ed Glaeser discussed in his 2009 research titled “The complementarity between cities and skills”. This unique situation has left SMEs in asymmetrical competition with larger businesses for limited and often remote talent and made it harder for them to hit ‘escape velocity’.

This term, which generally refers to the speed at which a craft must travel to break away from the gravitational pull of a celestial body (around 25,000mph in the case of earth), has become a buzzword in business media meaning the point at which a business reaches the point of sustainable, profitable growth. Thanks to start-up costs, overheads, and labor costs, reaching this point is hard for any business, but SMEs, in particular, can struggle to meet the demands of modern, high-velocity markets.

Recent changes in the world have made remote working more common, and indeed more necessary, than ever before. As a result, those on-demand freelance labor marketplaces that have previously been on the fringes, or outside of the bounds, of traditional recruitment practices are experiencing a renaissance. By offering localized and regional SMEs access to global talent pools on an ‘as-needed’ basis, platforms like Cognisium, Upwork and Kaggle have made deploying an effective blended workforce strategy far more attainable for small and medium sized enterprises across the world.

The focus of the average business has changed considerably over the last few decades. Hyper connectivity and the exponentially increasing speed at which every aspect of culture is changing and being shared. That has made flexibility a necessity for most businesses. As the consumer has come to expect services and products ‘on-demand’, entire industrial ecosystems have had to adapt to the change of pace. This is no longer a ‘front of house’ issue focused on the retail sector.

The result has been a wholesale shift in mentality and focus for the majority of industries. Long-term views surrounding enterprises and the half-life of skills have become shorter as businesses have become forced to look beyond legacy projects and consider their adaptability and capacity to move swiftly with the pace of innovation, technology, and the opening and closing of delivery channels. The key drivers of the ‘on-demand’ or blended model for businesses of all sizes can be categorized as: