To remain competitive, run lean, and respond quickly to fluctuating demand and market disruptions, companies today are turning to custom, flexible work models. Such models rely upon real-time staffing needs for projects—utilizing part-time, full-time, and temporary-to-hire workers or satellite consultants who work off-site, either in another state or country.
Each of these workers possesses specific skills that are needed for a specific project covering a specific time frame. Sometimes referred to as hyper-specialization—breaking work, previously done by one person, into specialized projects performed by several individuals—it’s a strategy that can offer improvements in quality, speed, and cost, particularly if the work is aggregated against specific overarching goals.
Thus, by sourcing the right talent via the right medium at the right time, workers aren’t left “sitting on the bench.” By bringing in hyper-specialized talent on an as-needed basis, these agile labor structures can actually increase productivity while reducing costs, as companies no longer need to be committed to costly job training programs.
Better yet, by plugging these individuals into a master organizational chart through dotted lines to various functions and leaders, talent can be aligned for greatest impact—inspiring the innovation that can drive competitive advantage.
Considerations for choosing the right structure
When companies experiment with flexible models, it’s the team leaders who decide who to bring aboard and when. Thus, an important consideration is whether to choose a fl at or hierarchical structure—or possibly a blend of both.
Organizations that are flatter provide a range of leaders across company functions, giving employees more freedom and ownership on projects. Innovation is no longer the responsibility of the R&D department, meaning that the best ideas can come from any functional area at any time. Thus, it’s critical to take a deep look at how candidates best function when hiring talent to bring into a fl at matrix. Candidates who, for example, naturally initiate and organize group activities could thrive in a dynamic and constantly changing structure.
Hierarchical or layered models are less common for fast-growth companies focused on innovation, since the critical information and data that’s needed to innovate can get mired in the slower-moving flow of top-down communication channels. Moreover, leaders at the top of such structures generally tend to look across the organization at a macro level rather than participating in R&D brainstorms or tinkering with micro-level ideas.
“Every company has two organizational structures: The formal one is written on the charts; the other is the everyday relationship of the men and women in the organization.” —Harold S. Geneen