Uncovering the New Face of the American Workforce: Part 3 of 12

11.18.2014, Written by Annie Wang

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 1.41.08 PMThe world of work is changing. The new face of the American workforce and an increasing portion of the international workforce is more independent, engaged and better able to deliver results, services, and products than the traditional monolithic corporation.


To get a better understanding of this shift, Field Nation conducted a comprehensive analysis of the three areas that have combined to form the nexus of this new reality of work: the shift away from traditional employment and towards contract expertise, the disruption of work as we used to know it, and the newly engaged workforce.


Last week, we discussed the “Organization – Individual Inversion” as the second shift that contributed to the changing dynamic in today’s workforce. This inversion saw a move away from the traditional role of the external organization as a means of accessing expertise, and towards the direct engagement of that expertise while using the external organization only as a way to facilitate those transactions.



Chapter One: The Shift

The Third Shift: the Evolution of Communication and Collaboration Technology

The third shift we identified was how the evolution of communication and collaboration technology brought the offshore outsourcing model home.


While this model worked well for deliverables that could be transmitted electronically, it broke down during the “last mile” of delivery. Goods and services that required on-site execution were not easily externalized. And while a blueprint or web application could be created and coded overseas and delivered via email or file sharing, the construction of the building and set-up of the data center still required domestic expertise and execution.


Improvements of collaboration technology continued, however, and advances in internet conferencing, VoIP, and real-time communications nullified the distance and time-zone differences that had previously governed business interactions and opportunities. Mobile, GPS, and ecommerce technology continued to put more capability, insight, and just-in-time information into the hands of the experts who were on-site, and delivered project requirements and granular visibility to PMOs and enterprises about availability, capability and logistics.


Ecommerce platforms such as Craigslist, Angie’s List, Groupon, PeadPod, Living Social and others, started to leverage local economics by not only establishing the viability of this approach, but also the habit of sourcing goods and services locally when possible. These platforms proved that individuals and businesses alike would engage local resources if they were aware of their existence. Advances in mobile and GPS technology also made on-demand cross referencing possible, as well as expertise with location. These advances allowed for the very specific and proactive connection of local opportunities with local, on-demand expertise.


More specifically, starting around the time of the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, there was also a boom in online jobs marketplaces that provided a place for individuals and small businesses to list their talents and capabilities, as well as location, while businesses in need of expertise (but without budget to hire full-time headcount) could engage those individuals.


The business-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer space led the revolution in local expertise sourcing and engagement. Businesses, now accustomed to and accepting of outsourcing and offshoring parts of their expertise supply chain, turned their search back home.


Connect with this newly engaged workforce now by starting a project on Field Nation.


Coming Up: We highlight how the Great Depression of the late 2000s influenced the shift away from a traditional workforce and towards a contract marketplace.