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Global Growth

3 Myths About Using a Contingent Workforce in Onsite IT Deployments

Author Icon By Bob Supinger Topic Icon Global IT

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The myths of early societies all had important messages for their audiences. Often, they were cautionary tales, passing along important moral lessons to be more patient or less self-involved. We tend to think of myths now as popularly-held falsehoods that need dispelling, but even in this modern sense, you can learn lessons from the inaccuracies.

A predominant myth in modern IT field services is that using a contingent workforce—tapping into a vast pool of freelance and independent technicians—is a hassle not worth pursuing. Often, this is because global field service providers have been managing and executing projects in a certain way for so long that such a fundamental change can seem like more trouble than it’s worth.

The myths about leveraging contingent workers come from a set of reasonable objections or apprehensions: Won’t this cost too much? Isn’t this just for massive global enterprises? Does this actually help our KPIs and customer satisfaction?

The platforms for managing and deploying a contingent workforce may be much more mature than you think and, thus, can provide rebuttals to the most common myths about their value to global field service providers.

Myth #1: Contingent workforce utilization is a temporary trend

Contingent workforce utilization in IT field services is part of a larger global employment trend—the emergence of the gig economy and its long-term viability. Freelancers are becoming more prevalent in many industries because job scarcity, decreased employer spending and increased accessibility of online labor platforms. The gig economy is growing and appears on track to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Some may reasonably wonder if that growth will be reduced or halted entirely once greater regulation is put into place regarding independent workers. But the continuous development of online labor platforms, combined with the variety of reasons people participate in the gig economy, give more credence to the staying power of contingent workers.

Enterprises with IT needs have a variety of ways to use contingent workers judiciously and effectively. Between seasonal and on-demand workforce scaling, reducing organizational payroll spending, and sourcing local IT technicians, there are multiple reasons to leverage a contingent workforce. And even if greater regulation increases the cost of doing so in the near future, that scalability and use of local talent—which is especially helpful when conducting IT work on a global scale—are two major benefits that won’t be diminished.

Myth #2: Contingent workers are less reliable and less motivated

Freelance workers quickly learn that the secret to advancement in the gig economy—that is, landing better paying, more prestigious gigs—is self-motivation. The promise of greater money or freedom in independent work only becomes a reality when you have the willingness to produce high-quality work whenever and wherever needed, occasionally at odd hours.

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Many IT field service organizations still have some lingering trepidation about independent technicians’ capacity to be reliable, motivated, loyal, and respectful of confidentiality. However, as field service management (FSM) platforms have matured to include freelancer reviews, thorough vetting processes, and reliability or quality of work scores, the uncertainty about hiring independent technicians has been mitigated. This allows your field service operations to only utilize the best talent—you can replace a poorly-performing freelancer by not choosing to use them again, instead of the costly remediation, retraining, or replacement of a full-time employee.

Better still, those platforms are also capable of cultivating a dedicated contingent workforce for your organization’s field service needs. The idea of freelancers dedicated to serving your IT needs on a regular basis may seem like a bit of an oxymoron, but this modern era of freelancing is less about nomadic workers moving from one client to the next and more about finding recurring gigs. Furthermore, contingent workforce utilization isn’t limited to picking individuals one-by-one in the areas your projects are happening—FSM platforms allow you access to the best resources in any city or country, from independent workers to dedicated local organizations with the capability to directly assist in any facet of project execution.

Though they often value independence in their work life, freelancers look for a consistent and familiar experience as well. If your organization finds a good fit in an independent tech, your FSM platform can ensure you are able to utilize them again when a project’s location or demand requires their help.

Myth #3: Compliance is too difficult to ensure with contingent workers

The lack of regulation in the freelancing world has many organizations worried about how complex and poorly-defined contingent workforce utilization still is. To be fair, there are many factors of compliance and risk that require extra attention when utilizing independent technicians. Internally, you need to make sure freelances will respect and adhere to your organizational codes of job site conduct as well as service-level and non-disclosure agreements. But external factors like changing employee classification and taxation laws also muddy the waters.

Recent court cases (and potential legislation) have made the struggle to properly and ethically utilize freelancers more public. That being said, the checklist for ensuring compliance—both your own and that of the independent techs—is still straightforward and simple:

  • Know how to classify contingent workers and what your organization is allowed to ask of them because of that classification.
  • Take the time to vet their job site credentials and qualifications for adherence to regulatory compliance, including any laws or regulations unique to the country or city in which the work is being done.
  • Utilize an open knowledge base—through your FSM platform’s ability to share information and communicate with all IT project participants—so freelancers understand and adhere to your organizational and operational standards.
  • Have the proper documentation in place—non-disclosure agreements, statements of work, service-level agreements—to define the confidentiality and scope of what contingent workers do and see within your organization.

Do your homework on what you need to know to ensure compliance and keep an eye on emerging developments in the legal and business worlds. It won’t take much work to become familiar with the parameters of freelancer classification and regulatory compliance, and just a little bit of effort will keep you aware of any changes to come.

Once your organization grasps these concepts, as well as the staying power and reliability of the contingent workforce, your freelance labor strategy is set up for the long haul. As global field service providers continue to adopt and get better at using contingent technicians, it will become more of a necessity to be competitive in the global IT marketplace.

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Bob Supinger

Written by: Bob Supinger

With over 16 years of management experience in business and Information Technology, Bob has helped Kinettix build the infrastructure required to establish itself as a true leader in global IT field services, and in particular rapid response on-site troubleshooting and repair. At Kinettix, Bob leads field services, project management and vendor development organizations. His responsibilities also include operational P&L and expense control; operational strategy and overseeing plan execution; recruiting, employee engagement and development; ongoing process improvement; and customer experience. Before joining Kinettix, Bob worked for Comcast Business, Enterprise Solutions, and Contingent Network Services. He attended Edison State and Wright State University and attained a Degree in Business in 1999. He participated in and coached collegiate athletics and is currently the president of a non-profit organization supporting youth athletic programs in the community.

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