Today many more businesses are embracing a collaborative workstyle with a small core of full-time professionals managing the business; more functions being outsourced to a contracted workforce of freelance, self-employed specialists who are engaged on an as-needs basis; and a flexible contingent workforce including part-time staff, interim managers and agency temps. This model was outlined in 1989 by Charles Handy in his book “The Age of Unreason” where he described “The Shamrock Organisation” with three leaves depicting each of these three types of work groups.

There are many reasons for this change including social, political, economic and business-focused. Workers themselves are seen to be asking for greater control, flexibility and a better balance between their work, life and family activities. Businesses, keen to address these issues, are offering more flexible working patterns and styles with a wide variety of terms and conditions designed either to increase staff retention or to appear attractive to potential new staff. We even know of one employer who has moved down this route in order to be more well thought of by its customers.

Effective use of all the elements of a collaborative workforce requires careful management, skilful leadership, clearly defined goals and an effective technology platform … but handled well, a business can enjoy many benefits.

The organisation adopting this pattern is able to adjust the size of its workforce to suit its workload bringing in extra people and their skills and expertise whenever needed, for example … to work on a specific project or to cope with an increased order book. Specialists can be brought in to fill gaps in the employed workforce perhaps to cover permanent staff’s extended absences. They are able to share their knowledge and add innovative ideas to the business which can enhance efficiency and productivity. Project work can be enhanced by having a pool of people working as a “virtual online team” on the various elements of the job at the same time, for example working on the same document or a proposal in real time, aiming to meet tight deadlines. Having a virtual team may mean that the members do not have to travel to the office to work but instead might work from home or from a local work hub or co-working space – provided that adequate information security can be assured. That might enable an organisation to reduce the amount of office space it requires.

To take advantage of the ‘Gig Economy’ Wisework itself has developed a collaborative network of specialists Partners and associates with whom it works on internal and client projects. They broaden and strengthen our activities and service delivery as well as bringing in fresh approaches to problem solving, new ideas and also enhance our knowledge of the market and current developments.