5 Key HR Ingredients for a Successfully Blended Workforce

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5 Key HR Ingredients for a Successfully Blended Workforce

The blended workforce is a fact. In an average company, about 40% of the personnel is a mix of freelancers, contractors, part-timers, tempers and what not. Of course, this has an impact on HR and its traditional functions. In this post, we share 5 key HR ingredients for a successfully blended workforce.

1. Blended recruitment

A blended workforce requires a blended type of recruitment. Hiring full-time employees isn’t the same thing as hiring a freelancer. When it comes to a contingent worker that will do your data entry from home, their skills weigh heavier than how well that person will fit into the company culture.

Rather than the usual job boards and recruitment agencies, HR departments will have to tap into different (digital) sources. Think of platforms that act as an intermediary between highly skilled freelancers and companies for example. 

Toptal is an example of such a platform for designers, developers, and finance experts. The company anticipates the growing need of today’s businesses for agile human resources. As such, Toptal offers businesses the flexibility to scale quickly, scale down if necessary, and take an experimental approach.

 2. Digital communication tools

Digital communication tools are essential. The more blended your workforce, the bigger the chances that one person works from home while a couple of others are abroad and so on. Either way, the people that need to work together on the same project will probably physically be in different locations.

All the more reason to have a powerful set of digital communication tools at their disposal! To a certain extent, the more the merrier, because the thing with technology is that it sometimes – for some mysterious reason – doesn’t do what you need it to do. So in case the company’s go-to video conference app randomly shuts down, it’s good to have a quick support or a working back-up at the ready.    

An instant team messaging channel, via an app like Slack or Flock is crucial for a successfully blended workforce; people are likely to work from different locations and/or time zones.

A big advantage of this kind of team chat apps is that they enable colleagues to always communicate and share files thanks to their mobile versions. They’re also a very useful way of keeping all work-related communications together in one place.

Go here for a more detailed overview of the different team chat apps.

3. The Cloud

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When it comes to the cloud, the same principle holds. The fact that team members aren’t often physically in the same place is inherent to a blended workforce. What’s more, people may very well not even be working at the same time due to different time zones.

Individually saved files of which the ‘most recent version’ is being emailed to the team on a daily basis just won’t do in this case. The risk of wrong versions, inefficiencies and eventually frustration simply is too big. 

The solution lies in the cloud. People can work on the same project and adjustments are being saved automatically. A big added advantage is that team members don’t need to save large files on their own computers and that they can just as easily log in from their mobile devices if they want to.

Examples of online project management tools that work well for blended teams are Trello, Taskworld, and Asana. Go here to see more cloud-based project management tools. 

4. Be a home for everyone in your blended workforce

Out of sight, out of mind as they say. All too often, the external members of the team feel a little forgotten. From an HR perspective, that’s the last thing you want, since it isn’t good for their spirits and thus eventually isn’t good for the quality of work they deliver.

Try to treat your externals the same as your fulltime employees. If for instance there’s a company WhatsApp group for the occasional out-of-office chat, add your freelancers, contractors and other contingent workers to this group. It will make them part of things other than purely business-related talk and they’ll feel more engaged with the company because of it.    

Another thing to keep in mind is to give externals the same recognition you give the in-house staff. If one of your freelancers just delivered a stunning project – which would have triggered a company-wide recognition email if it had been done by a full-timer –  then send out the same email now too. 

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This kind of details – that aren’t really details – make the difference between a happy, engaged external willing to go the extra mile and an external who simply goes through the motions. In other words: they make for a successfully blended workforce.

5. Set clear guidelines

A blended workforce requires some special attention. Schedule-wise things may not always fully correspond. That’s why it’s important to set clear guidelines regarding the project in order for both full-time employees and the external workers to know where they’re at. A few elements to think about:

  • When team members should be available and via what channel (email, team chat, WhatsApp etc.)
  • When team meetings are held to discuss timelines/progress
  • If – and if so when – external team members are expected to be in the office

An in-person meeting before the start of the project is always best (if practically possible). It’s a good way to break the ice between all of the involved and of course it’s nice to know who they’ll be working closely with for the next period of time.    

Time to start blending

As Deloitte said in their 2017 Human Capital Trends report: “One of the new rules for the digital age is to expand our vision of the workforce; think about jobs in the context of tasks that can be automated (or outsourced) and the new role of human skills.”

The blended workforce fits perfectly within this expanded vision of personnel for the digital age. The list of 5 key HR ingredients we mentioned in this blog isn’t exhaustive but creates a pretty solid recipe for a successfully blended workforce nevertheless. Happy blending!

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