In the current unpredictability of the market around us, buyer organizations often ask us what they should be doing to prepare for the future. It is not often program managers have the luxury of looking ahead and planning for the future; they are typically focused on the present — establishing processes, technology and tactical partnerships with vendors. I recently discussed what the future holds for the industry with several strategic leaders. Here are some of their insights on the biggest influences on the future of work and what organizations should be thinking about as they plan their roadmap for the future.


Contingent workforces are key. The future can only be partially predicted by past events. Looking at where our industry has been only helps if it is on the same path — and anyone who has been operating in the staffing industry in the last two years knows that our path has diverged. The pandemic was a unique, black swan-type event that changed the parameters in which we staff contingent workers.


In fact, the past two years have proven just how vital the contingent workforce is to enterprise organizations. Past concerns of co-employment are now overshadowed by overwhelming demands for labor and the importance of understanding all of the different ways our organizations are engaging talent.


Total talent at last? Total talent management is finally gaining the attention it has long deserved.


“We are at an inflection point where in the next two to five years, the majority of the global working population will be nonemployees,” Dan Beck, co-founder and COO of Utmost, recently shared with me. “With this massive trend in mind, it’s exciting to see companies embrace a total workforce mindset.”


The concept of total talent has been around for over 10 years with little adoption success. Now, though, companies are finding value in incorporating the contingent workforce into their strategic workforce planning efforts and investing in maturing areas of contingent workforce management such as independent contractor and statement-of-work arrangements.


The talent experience. Companies are also understanding the importance of talent management and engagement. “The workplace is undergoing tremendous change, so companies must reconsider how work gets done and the resources they need,” Joanne Estrada, senior VP, digital innovation, at Randstad Sourceright, told me. “This means a renewed focus on providing a positive and consistent talent experience to optimize productivity and keeping workers engaged. Companies will need to pair best practices, creative thinking, and technologies that manage both talent and market data to ensure an advantage when competing for talent.”


This significantly different environment for the contingent workforce requires organizations to take a cultural shift in how they manage their extended workforce to be successful at this evolved approach. 


Remote work opportunities. One final known factor that is likely to have the biggest impact on the contingent workforce is the shift to remote work. The pandemic has tested the remote capabilities of organizations and shown workers that they can balance work and home life better when they aren’t required to be physically present in an office. As workers start to explore remote opportunities outside of their home market, they begin to learn the value of their skill set and unlock opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible locally.


This proposition is equally as attractive for organizations looking to find the best talent. The future of remote work is not yet certain and will depend on how organizations adapt to best leverage a distributed workforce. As companies look to the future, they will need to recognize the strategic value of incorporating remote work and resist the urge to snap back to an in-office model when the time comes.


As your organization starts to plan for the post-pandemic future, be sure to challenge the status quo. The events from the past two years have impacted the market in ways that cannot be reversed. The return to the normal that we have been waiting for may not be coming. Be aware of the new market that is forming around us and be sensitive while helping your workforce to embrace the change.