The digital economy provides professional services firms with the opportunity to re-think how best to interact with their clients, employees and extended workforce. Outsourcing and digitization of processes will free up time for adding increased value to clients. New models of collaboration are emerging that lead to greater innovation and higher performance. Talent is increasingly sourced using contingent and offshore or digital resources. Blurring of boundaries between clients and firms will require teams to be built by multiple services providers and require highly collaborative work practices to succeed.
Collaboration at work
The digital economy is enabling new models of collaboration. Conventional hierarchical decision-making structures are being challenged and being replaced by flat organisations and decentralized decision making in forward thinking companies. Collaborative work practices and peer to peer communication are becoming more widespread, enabled by new technologies that empower employees to communicate easily and openly with people inside and outside the firm. By 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce. At some companies, such as Ernst &Young, millennials already compose 60% of their workforce. Technology means that employees can be “always on”, has eliminated global communication barriers and created workspaces which encourage creativity. Millennials with their life aspirations have forced companies to rethink work-life balance, meetings and cubicles.
Imagine a revolutionary ‘green workspace’ which includes hot-desk areas, relaxation zones, quiet loungers for phone calls equipped with sensors everywhere to adjust to personalized lighting and temperature preferences. It exists today – “The Edge” – HQ of Deloitte in Amsterdam. A smartphone app guides you to a parking space on arrival, guides you to an available desk near to consultants working on similar projects and even lets you order fresh food to take home from the office. Learn more about this connected workspace here.
Photographer: Ronald Tilleman
Open Talent Economy
The digital economy has enabled the emergence of an open talent economy which brings together people and work in a borderless workplace. Talent is readily accessible on a global basis: companies can right-source their projects from an extended value chain with talent that is not employed directly by them.
The Open Source model is a good example of the Open Talent Economy: applications and platforms are developed by thousands or millions of developers whose location is unimportant as long as they have internet access. Companies who are drawing on this open pool of talent are already outperforming their competitors.
Roughly 70% of millennials see themselves as working independently at some point in their lives, rather than being employed by a traditional organization structure. Employees will be able to customize aspects of their roles, selecting the tasks, projects and responsibilities that are right for them.
Talent Management 2.0
The current model of talent management to recruit, train, manage, retain and evaluate employee performance is being challenged. Hierarchies are being crushed and employees are empowered to make decisions, co-innovate with customers and are encouraged to improvise and not fear failure. Professional Services companies are re-imagining recruitment: they can use social media to influence millennials to familiarize them with their company and culture. As a people based business, Professional Services firms need to identify, attract and hire the best talent and manage the process as a dialogue.
In July 2015, Accenture announced a bold move to improve performance in real-time which reflects the evolving model: “Accenture will implement a more fluid system, in which employees receive timely feedback from their managers on an ongoing basis following assignments” explained Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture.
In a market of increasing complexity where highly specialized skills are required to resource projects which are not always available in-house, Professional Services firms are going beyond the boundaries of their company for talent. Social networking (LinkedIn), contingent workers, communities of practice and other web platforms allow employees and ex-employees to exchange resources and disseminate information.
A recent Deloitte study found that 87% of businesses cited culture and engagement as their key challenges so they could use playful design to tackle this.
Employees of the future may not be just working for one division – or even one company – but will be working within multiple divisions at multiple employers. Employees are becoming increasingly self-directed and actively seek out flexible working arrangements, autonomy and customization of tasks. At Deloitte staff can already choose their workload, pace, the amount of travelling they are willing to take on and what their employee personality is for example, if they see themselves as a leader.
“To attract and retain talent business needs to show Millennials it is innovative and in tune with their world view”. Barry Salzberg, CEO DeloitteTouche Tohmatsu Limited
Clearly many Professional Services companies are showing other industries the way to the future of work by adopting digital service delivery, flexible talent management and encouraging collaborative work practices. Are you up to the challenge?