Your core competency is the thing you do better than anyone else. It’s the crux of your company’s value. Never outsource what makes you special. That should remain the exclusive purview of your employees. For example, if you are a call center whose core competency is customer service, support and protect your call center employees. Cut away any distractions inhibiting their ability to provide amazing customer service. Protecting employees and their productivity from distractions and inefficiencies has become a top priority recently. Microsoft Japan’s 4-day workweek experiment optimized employee time by minimizing meetings, leveraging collaboration software and encouraging smarter work habits. The resulting 40% jump in productivity illustrates the value of focusing on what your company does best. Use employees for: core competency, value-based business outcomes.When crafting your workforce, remember that freelancers, gig workers and digital assistants each do different types of work in different ways, but they should all be employed toward the same objective: removing distractions.
Robots are the pinnacle of tech-mediated, on-demand workers, and they’re not just for blue-collar work anymore. Digital assistants can do any highly predictable, high-volume computer task. Not all knowledge work needs to be done by humans. If you have tasks that are standardized through an interface and follow a script where the only thing that changes is the data to be entered, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an option for you. Digital assistants can be designed to do specific, rules-driven tasks such as moving data from your operations system to your financial system, transcribing handwritten notes into your CRM, or even pulling potential sales targets from your favorite networking website.RPA can significantly free up your employees to do the creative, relational work that brings value to your company. But you have to know, or seek guidance on, which tasks are best suited to machines. Automation can save time and money, but when applied incorrectly, it can cost you a fortune. Tesla learned the hard way that human workers are still more adaptable to unexpected change than robots. In the knowledge economy, replacing people with digital assistants is the fast track to commoditization. Use digital assistants for: predictable, high-volume, computer-centric tasks.When crafting your workforce cocktail in the new year, remember that freelancers, gig workers and digital assistants each do different types of work in different ways, but they should all be employed toward the same objective: removing distractions.
Freelancers are highly educated, high-performance professionals. These are the people you want to do work that falls outside your core competency, but needs to be done well and with a consistent voice. Writing blog posts, designing your brand guide, reengineering financial processes. These are not arm’s-length, one-off tasks. They need to be done by people who understand your brand, your culture and your business goals and won’t disappear when the job is done. Ideally, freelancers bring their network and their know-how to peripheral areas of your business where you’ve just been muddling along. Think about the capabilities that support your core functions. Is it worth sinking time and effort into becoming an expert at them, or could you get more value with freelancers who bring fresh perspectives from their portfolio of clients? You could bring on a freelance CMO with a stable of web-developing subcontractors to build you a world-class website and update all associated marketing plans. In our uber-specialized economy, the freelance market is booming. Large companies are increasingly turning to the freelance labor pool with 30% of the Fortune 500 now using Upwork, the largest global freelancing website. But do you need a third party mediating contact with your freelancers? Given that the hallmark of freelancing is human connection and relationship building, word of mouth is still often the best way to find the right freelancers for you. There’s no substitute for referrals from trusted colleagues and coworkers. Use freelancers for: discrete, relationship-based supporting tasks. When crafting your workforce cocktail in the new year, remember that freelancers, gig workers and digital assistants each do different types of work in different ways, but they should all be employed toward the same objective: removing distractions.
With a solid referral, you can phone a freelancer and be on your way to building a working relationship, minimal tech required. In contrast, our modern understanding of a “gig” is work mediated through a platform or app. At one end of the spectrum, Uber and Lyft randomly route a job to the closest or next worker in line. TaskRabbit, Fiverr, Wonolo and others give you more agency. However, the way you go about hiring isn’t the only difference between freelance and gig work. Do you have tasks that are prerequisites to getting your “real work” done? They take up time and require human intervention to complete, but they are often one-offs. Some examples are translation and transcription, content classification, and WordPress template design. When you hire a gig worker to do these jobs, the main thing to remember is that you are throwing the work over a wall (Or should I say platform?) for completion. You can provide guidance, but you probably do not have a relationship with the person doing the work. It’s a transaction. AI and various automation technologies are eating into gig economy tasks. Translation is a perfect example. In today’s global marketplace, human translators are still the default, but AI translation accuracy is improving quickly. One translation service CEO predicts that in one to three years, AI will cut human translation work in half. Use gig workers for: discrete, one-off tasks where no relationship is required. Remember: When crafting your workforce cocktail in the new year, remember that freelancers, gig workers and digital assistants each do different types of work in different ways, but they should all be employed toward the same objective: removing distractions. Use these on-demand workers to help you clear away the clutter from your core competencies so your business can deliver to your customers more of what makes you special.