The NYU Dispatch

The Birth of the Agile Workforce

Over the last few decades, we have seen a dramatic shift in the way companies are built. Modern day corporations look drastically different from their predecessors. Obviously, all organizations evolve with time, but these new age enterprises seem to defy what was considered conventional wisdom at one point in time.

Current State of Operation

With the surge of venture capital investment that flooded the market this since the turn of the millennium, traditional ethos that companies were once built around have been pushed to the backburner. The ethos that these new age companies are built on are a far cry from those that once dominated the markets they are in. The term disruption was coined solely to represent how such organizations are changing not only the way they operate but the entire eco system they operate within. This includes both management practices and novel technologies, such as the computer, various VPN services, and teleconferencing.

There was once a time when maximizing profit was the sole objective of any business. Today businesses have sacrificed profit margins in exchange for rapid growth and cornering large chunks of market share. With success no longer pegged solely to profit, organizational objectives have shifted to creating lean scalable structures that can be easily replicated over and over again. Costs need to be variablised and fixed overheads have to be minimized.

Organisational Structure

Building these organization almost always requires highly specialized skill sets at the core. Once the core product offering is in place, taking it to scale, for most tech companies, involves acceptance and adoption for a number of customers. Sometimes when a human touch is essential to the deliver of a product or service the organization needs a large volume of service providers working on delivering a well defined product offering under pre set guidelines and payment terms .

It is these modern day workforce needs that have changed the way teams across organizations are built. The advent of the agile workforce is a direct by product of these needs. Over time the culture of the remote workforce has gained traction. The gig economy has become a widely accepted part of the way businesses across the world operate.

Driving this wide spread acceptance of such trends both for employers and employees are a host of factors. Of course the obvious ones include the fact that a young workforce enjoys the flexibility that such employment opportunities provide. Not bound by location or time zones, talented professionals see a lot of value in opting out of the nine to five office culture that they see as an unnecessary burden.

Factors to Consider

On the other end of the spectrum, organizations are quickly beginning to see the benefit of the access such a system provides. They are no longer restricted to a talent pool determined by proximity to their premises. For highly skilled tasks such as high level coding integral to building a large tech business, access to a remote talent pool is priceless. Further not having to worry about fixed outgoing salaries and employment benefits frees up valuable resource for the organization to spend in other areas.

A big factor that has contributed to this adoption has been the rapid development in the internet and the communication technology it supports. Today a team based in a variety of countries and time zones can use the internet and find themselves in a virtual conference without much hassle. The technology is neither expensive nor difficult to deploy.

The New State of Workforce Organization

Like with any new idea, these concepts have seen their ups and downs. Organizations of all sizes are constantly fine tuning their offerings to find a way to optimize the value they derive from such a work culture. Some see more success than the others. Managers running such teams are still learning the best practices when it comes to getting the best out of a workforce they may never share a physical space with. With no handbook to govern how it operates, there are still many basic questions surrounding this trend that need answering. In a time when new playbooks are written daily, managers have had to adapt rapidly to the highly dynamic environments they find themselves in.

At the rate at which innovation is unfolding across the world, organizations that can not adapt quickly fall by the way side from the path paved by those at the forefront of innovation. Even the large organizations holding market leadership positions can not afford to become complacent.

Conclusions on Agile Workforce

Still, with all these changes in business environment coming to the fore, it is important to note that one of the ideas that has been gospel when it comes to building a business for time in memorial still stands firm. The most valuable asset a business can own is the people driving it. Whether the people are in the same room or halfway across the planet it is still human ingenuity that separates the average organizations from the ones soaring above the rest. There is no way to be sure if this idea will hold true forever but for the foreseeable future it doesn’t seem like too many people can challenge it with any success.

This article was contributed by fellow NYU students. If you would like to make a contribution to the NYU Dispatch, please email us.



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