Advances in technology, mobility and automation have not only made many jobs easier, but they've also redefined how and where we do those jobs.
The reality today is that not every position needs to be worked nine-to-five, Monday through Friday, by an employee in an office. Some jobs are, in fact, better suited for part-time contractors or telecommuters who can work from home. The trick is to know in advance which jobs adapt best for contract or home-based employment, so you can shape your hiring tactics appropriately.
Here are three steps to do that:
1. Start by looking at the work.
Regardless of whether a position is salaried or contract-based, the most important thing is that you hire the right person to get the job done as effectively as possible. That means first understanding what the job entails and how much interaction and decision-making will be required. After all, successful management of people starts with understanding and being close to the work that needs to be done.
In my experience, positions that are critical to the business and require daily collaboration with a team are probably best accomplished in the office, full time. That said, I've also seen companies--especially smaller ones--where teams have created an online culture of collaboration using Skype or instant messaging, so they are always present with each other virtually. (Mind you, this typically works only when a team has built up trust in one another's availability over time, like when a quarterback instinctively knows where a receiver will be based on years of working together.)
Jobs that lend themselves well to contract work, on the other hand, usually feature what I call routine, repeatable, scalable tasks. These are projects that are more episodic in nature--something you foresee doing for a finite period of time, often on a regular basis. For example, if you're with a company that's making its first foray into digital marketing, you need an expert to help set you on the right course--but you don't need to hire that expert full-time (and perhaps you also lack the budget). Instead, you might bring in a consultant with the requisite expertise to teach your team the ropes for two months, so they can then do the work themselves. If that work requires a lot of face time and collaboration, you should consider keeping it in-office. But if it doesn't--if, say, you're hiring contract employees who simply need to log in and answer call center requests or enter data--you can certainly consider saving office resources and allowing those people to work from home.
2. Prep a recruiting plan that appeases the talent you need.
The type of position for which you're hiring will not only determine the kind of candidates you're seeking--it will also influence the kind of applicants who will respond. Think strategically about the skill set you need in order to get a particular job done well, particularly if you are looking at bringing more contract workers on board.
Remember: You're in a war for talent. While the number of college-educated, self-employed people has grown dramatically in recent years, these folks are skilled and in demand. In fact, we've seen an explosion of project-based work in the white collar workplace recently, because we finally have a qualified applicant pool eager to accept more flexible, lucrative, part-time work. You'll need an advance plan to recruit these candidates successfully.
3. Be up front about your policies.
Make sure your job listings are clear about where the work will take place, what the job involves, and how long your projects will last--but bear in mind as well that some applicants with desirable skill sets won't be looking for short-term gigs. They might want more stability or the benefits that only come with full-time jobs. You don't want to compromise your business or budgetary needs, but you will want to placate these candidates in order to maintain their interest. What you can't offer in long-term salary or benefit guarantees you can likely make up for by promoting a culture of flexibility and work-life balance--and anything that highlights this kind of authenticity amidst today's hiring chaos is sure to be a competitive advantage.