Online Staffing - the Future or the End?

Posted by:Whitridge in Business & Technology
24 September 2013 0

For those of you that keep up with the technology staffing blogs and specifically Staffing Industry Analysts, you’ve heard a lot lately about the growing sector of Online Staffing. This technology allows a company that has tasks, either small and defined or large but capable of being divided into smaller discrete pieces, to distribute them through an online service platform to a “crowd” of prequalified, capable professionals to complete the work virtually. The estimated growth of this segment year-over-year is now projected to be 60% in 2013 and 70% in 2014 (Staffing Industry Analysts) making it a $2 billion plus category. The question many are asking, as we did with the dawn of RPO, is “Does this provide a supplemental tool in the staffing industry’s toolbox or does it spell the end of staffing as we know it?”

I am one to believe this allows Technology Staffing to take a step farther into the 21st century with the use of technology and virtual recruiting models. Putting together a functional online service platform that can manage the transactions and connect the technical community with the jobs is not a simple task, but in fact you can enlist the aid of third party platforms like NextCrew to actually provide a white labeled version for your company.

The question that keeps recurring even with the astonishing growth of Elance, one of the leaders in the space, is will the managers responsible for the end product internally be willing to give up control of the piece or all of a project to an outside worker they have never met, spoken to, or interviewed? That, I believe, is a long learning curve and one of two large challenges facing the continued growth of Online Staffing. In the Technology Staffing world, sight unseen starts are still a rarity and I am not sure that the business community is ready to move in this direction.

The next issue is technology workers; considering the demand on Technology Staffing companies to produce high quality professionals in the financial services and healthcare fields as well as many other industries and the stress on supply, where are these workers going to come from to complete these projects? Is the world of work moving to a virtual one faster than we think? Are retiring baby boomers and the millennial population, due to their affinity for on demand work, going to populate these utilities or is there going to be a point where the willing participants on the employer side and the available professionals on the staffing side reach their maximum? I think this is a possibility, but what is obvious is that this is a growing piece of the human capital market that requires thought and careful examination.

The whispers I have heard about this spelling the end of staffing as we know it and posing a threat, especially to Technology Staffing, is a huge stretch. What may be the outcome of this type of work and worker arrangement is an increase in the acceptance of all forms of contingent labor relationships that results in building contingent staffing opportunities and revenues.

So again, we are faced with what will be regarded by some as a threat and by others as an opportunity. I would fall on the side of opportunity and will be doing my best to both investigate and evaluate the potential contribution it might make to Whitridge’s growth.

Stay tuned - this could be another interesting ride.