\In March 2020, companies around the world and in every industry were forced to transition to an entirely remote workforce overnight. But when you sent your employees home, did you assume they’d be back in a few weeks’ time?

Eighteen months later, many teams are still working from the comfort of the couch. But is that such a bad thing? The “Great Resignation” has shown us many employees would rather quit their jobs than return to the office full time. Working from home has provided a level of freedom and flexibility they weren’t privy to pre-pandemic. Now that the office is anywhere they want it to be, more workers are moving out of expensive city centers such as San Francisco and New York City to suburbs where they can find more affordable housing.

Although some employers insist they’ll be bringing their employees back to the office eventually, other savvy organizations have openly embraced change in the workplace — and they’re reaping the benefits of an expanded talent pool as a result.


Adapting to Change in the Workplace

For years, employers have resisted the adoption of remote work. One popular argument was that doing so would destroy worker productivity, but research simply doesn’t bear this out. One study of 800 employers found that 94% rated productivity as “the same or higher” since COVID-19 sent everyone home.

Furthermore, remote work can actually save you more than $11,000 each year per worker due to lower costs for physical office spaces, improved productivity, decreased absenteeism, and less turnover (and that’s just the dollar amount for part-timers). Beyond dollars and cents, however, adding remote work to your list of benefits broadens your talent pool. When you’re not tied down to physical location, you can recruit for the skills and experience you need.

In that same vein, remote work has opened up the opportunity to hire contingent workers, regardless of location. So, what is the advantage of hiring contingent workers? For one, it provides access to a large talent pool of specialized workers (in fact, more than 51 million people performed contingent work last year in the United States) and allows you to address skill gaps in your team without bringing on a W-2 employee. Perhaps you’re tackling a special project with a tight deadline that requires a highly skilled niche programmer. Rather than recruiting, hiring, and onboarding a full-time employee — which is expensive and time-intensive — you can quickly onboard a contingent worker to help bridge the gap, be more agile, and grow faster to produce the results you need. As soon as the project is complete, the worker is offboarded.


Onboarding Contingent Workers to Address Skills Gaps

Before taking advantage of the contingent workforce, you need to determine whether hiring contingent workers is right for your company. Hiring contingent workers makes sense when you’re looking for people with highly technical or creative skill sets. Leveraging contingent workers is also smart when you’re looking for seasonal team members to ramp up work to meet business objectives and demands. Alternatively, if you’ve been struggling to find the right candidate to fill a full-time role, you might expand your search to include contingent workers in order to address that skills gap in a timely manner.

Once you decide to hire and onboard a contingent worker, be sure to put a few processes in place to get the most out of that individual. Treat contingent workers as part of your team and the company’s core workforce by setting them up for success. For instance, they should receive proper onboarding and training so they can get up to speed on the way your company operates. It’s also important to include contingent workers in appropriate meetings and even company culture events so they feel like part of the team.

It won’t always make sense to incorporate contingent workers in your daily company routines, but when it does, you should be sure they’re involved. After all, contingent workers can take their skills elsewhere if they don’t feel valued — and you’ll find that many aren’t afraid to exercise that option if they need to.

Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve been thrust into a new order of business that few among us could have predicted. Rather than shy away from it, embrace it and adapt to the changes in the workplace. That means embracing hybrid teams with a fully or partially remote workforce and integrating contingent workers into your existing team. Soon, it’ll be hard to imagine going back to the way things were pre-pandemic. The future of work is here — and it’s here to stay.

The pandemic is changing the workforce landscape as we know it, and contingent workers are playing a more significant role than ever before. Download the IES whitepaper “How to Manage Your Contingent Workforce Effectively Through a Crisis” to learn how you can emerge from the pandemic stronger and with a more specialized team.


Written By: Danielle Itani, Director of Marketing, Strategy

Danielle Itani is the director of marketing and strategy at Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a leading global employer of record in more than 150 countries that specializes in payrolling and contractor management services for today’s contingent workforce. Founded in 1974 in San Diego, IES has grown into one of the city’s largest women-owned businesses and has been named one of its “Best Places to Work” for 10 years in a row.

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