Has Workforce-as-a-Service arrived?

4 min read
Mousa Ackall, VP, Marketing
November 16, 2015
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First came software-as-a-service (SaaS). Now, is it time for workforce-as-a-service (WaaS)?

Not unlike the underlying concept behind SaaS, WaaS simply means that businesses can use their employees/workers as needed. Employers can scale their workforce up or down to match business ebbs and flows.

Why Waas?

According to Diego Lomanto, vice president of marketing at Work Market, which provides an online marketplace for businesses to manage freelancers, contractors, and consultants, WaaS allows employers to better match supply with demand.

For organizations that depend on quick, reliable customer service, WaaS may have distinct advantages.

“Speed is essential to the modern field services organization, and an on-demand workforce can help enterprises quickly overcome the challenges inherent in a hyper-responsive service world,” explains Lomanto.

To make its case, Work Market recently released a new sponsored analyst report titled “Field Service Delivery in an On-Demand World.”

Conducted in conjunction with Bill Pollock, president and principal consulting analyst at Strategies for Growth, the new research explores how certain companies are embracing an on-demand workforce model to drive growth and customer satisfaction in a fiercely competitive service industry.

“This new research provides an overview of the current field services landscape and offers recommendations for enterprises looking to reengineer their workforce and remain competitive,” Pollock says.

Lomanto explains that WaaS — or what Work Market actually calls the on-demand workforce — has become more important than ever due to the always-on, hyper-responsive nature of today’s business world. Customer expectations have escalated dramatically and businesses that don’t deliver an exceptional customer experience simply won’t survive, in his view.

Lomanto says on-demand workforces are especially relevant in the retail sector, where seasonality and supply/demand are sometimes unpredictable. It’s also very prevalent in the IT services sector as the need for networking, routing, communications, security and data work has exploded in the last decade.

On-demand workforces can be used by employers of all sizes, as the variable cost model ensures it’s not cost-prohibitive. However, on-demand workforces can be especially beneficial to large enterprises with thousands of employees and millions of dollars in labor costs.

Costs are relatively low

Lomanto says the basics for building an on-demand workforce include determining coverage gaps and skills requirements, implementing compliance controls, ensuring process alignment and formulating an execution plan.

“The cost to build and leverage an on-demand workforce only requires a couple of investments,” Lomanto says.

First, it requires the proper technology to scale an on-demand workforce and still remain compliant with state/federal labor laws. For example, just recently San Francisco adopted a Retail Workers Bill of Rights, which could spread to other municipalities. Today’s top businesses have begun embracing SaaS Freelance Management Systems (FMS), which allow them to meet those laws. Then, there are the needed funds to pay independent contractors – though compared to W-2 employees over the same period, these costs could be considerably lower.

Is WaaS already a reality?

“Absolutely,” Lomanto says. “Companies used freelancers for years, but the meteoric rise of the on-demand economy has rekindled the conversation around on-demand workforces and the future of work.”

For HR leaders in particular, Lomanto says today’s progressive enterprises/businesses have already begun embracing the on-demand model.

“A W-2, fixed cost workforce alone just won’t cut it in a turbulent and hyper-responsive business climate,” he says, adding that enterprises must begin using freelance marketplace/FMS to access new sources of talent and remain competitive in today’s talent wars. Moreover, companies that embrace an on-demand workforce can reduce annual labor costs, generate new revenue streams and still deliver an exceptional customer experience.

According to Gartner, nearly 60% of HR leaders will use a unified talent management strategy by 2020. Today’s top HR/CHRO execs understand the importance of building an on-demand workforce that can adapt to an unpredictable market in real-time.

“With WaaS, you have lower labor costs, better geographic coverage, improved customer satisfaction, access to new/different talent which can help generate new sources of revenue, financial flexibility and improved work quality,” Lomanto says.

This article was originally featured on HR Dive.