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Increased mobility heralds the rise of elance workers

first_img Comments are closed. Increased mobility heralds the rise of elance workersOn 10 Apr 2001 in Personnel Today Fundamental shifts in our socialand economic landscape are producing seismic changes in the world of work. The facts speak forthemselves – by 2006, according to the Henley Centre for Forecasting, just lessthan a third of the population will be working from home, and if we include themobile worker, the figures are greater still. Already, 46 per cent of businesspeople have an office or work area in their home.These new ways ofworking are producing a breed of Internet-enabled mobile worker – the elancer.The typical elancer works from home and is most likely to be self-employed. Buttomorrow’s elancer may be a mobile worker and, increasingly, is likely to be avirtual employee. Interestingly, HR professionals – being knowledge workers –have this way of working open to them.As elancing moves intothe mainstream, it poses new managerial challenges. Businesses such as Orangehave understood the implications of the emerging landscape, running marketingcampaigns on the virtues of “wirefree working”, with advertstraplines focusing on teamwork even when colleagues are miles apart. Technology ispresented as the great liberator, enabling people to work flexibly wherever,whenever and however they choose.But organisations needto be mindful that they do not rely on the technology fix to solve what isessentially a people problem. Elancentric’s researchsuggests that “virtual employees” can often find the elancingexperience isolating unless attempts are made to bring them into the lifebloodof the organisation. It is too easy for the elancer to view their relationshipwith their organisation as “virtual” in practice as well as in name. For managers, regularcontact is a must. E-mail is a vital tool, and intranets are essential forcommunity-building as they facilitate the free exchange of ideas, rendering theboundaries between employee, freelancers and consultants less clear cut.Technology is alsogreat for communication, but it can never replace face-to-face contact. Managers must bewareof using technology to avoid problems. If there is tension building, e-mail canmask or bring conflict to the surface in a damaging way. It can be aggressive –whether passive or confrontational. So it is vital that colleagues pick up thephone. Remote management canbe even more challenging when the manager is an elancer or virtual worker. Butthere are advantages. Managers, like the elancers they manage, can reallyempathise with their daily challenges and thus handle the team moreeffectively. Organisations alsoneed to find ways of harnessing the creativity and involvement of freelancersand consultants. They need to experiment with ways of bringing them into theorganisational ethos, and giving them a stake. Employment agency Springintroduced a share options scheme for freelancers.At the moment, theelancer’s experience is marginal to the organisational culture. In tomorrow’sorganisation they will be fully integrated into business culture. Until then, HRmanagers might like to pioneer the trend and embrace the elance way of working.The experience will certainly give them a quick fix on the challenges as wellas the advantages, and render them better equipped to train and coach theirpeers into harnessing the human potential of their elancers as effectively asthe head office team.Helen Wilkinson isfounder of www.elancentric.com abusiness community for elancers and elance-oriented organisations Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

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