Changing forms of work
Technology changed how we work, how we connect, and how workforces are arranged. This improved connectivity and access to talent in the unconventional ways has influenced the way the teams are configured and triggered a revolution of freelancing, gig-work, flex-work, and range of work arrangements such as hybrid work (location specific), hybrid teams (mix of dedicated employees and professionals engaged for a specific deliverable) etc. Particularly in the high-tech industry, even the work that was thought as essential to be delivered onsite – Hardware, design & development as well as much of industrialization design jobs – have moved to remote / hybrid modes without compromising much on quality and timeliness
This has also impacted how the professionals (we focus on engineers for this context) choose to engage themselves with the “employers”. Some young (at heart) and hip choose to be nomads where they are at different locations based on their desire and passion while building their engineering / expert practice and some are choosing to work on a mix of office & home. The drive is the same – flexibility in how they earn a decent living by delivering what they are good at.
Would the technology push the whole workforce – well, most of the workforce – to migrate to remote work and virtualization of most of IT enabled engineering work would happen?
Most likely NO. We can see that a major shift did occur through the pandemic and new configuration in which work gets done is evolving. The trend of hybrid format of engineers and professionals delivering specific specialized tasks from different locations is increasing. Companies want to protect their differentiating technologies and thus to be worked on by their own engineers. However, the products or services are not comprising of all core technologies. The dedicated engineers will definitely be a part of the “New Work Operating System”, however the percentage of the people employed by the employer may reduce to what is “essential” to defend their core technologies and the rest would be delivered by the people who are outside the payroll but are best in what they do – who may or may not be in the same location as the “employees’.
Learnings from our survey
This reconfiguration is already happening. 90% of the respondents of a recent survey by Tasker, comprising of CTOs and Engineering Directors of Small and Medium sized Tech-Hardware businesses, suggested they are open to shift to remote delivery of well-defined tasks outside of their core technologies. Will it be a new surge of outsourcing to the lower wage geographies? Guess not! Most of these companies are in developing economies and would like to engage the experienced engineers from the West. In semiconductor Industry, the senior engineers working on fulltime role in Sweden is paid equal or lesser than their counter parts in Shanghai or Bangalore. This could be the leading indicator of the income parity (across geographies) for niche competences. As high-tech (hardware) industry develops further, the significance of this parity will be important for the engineers to decide their engagement model.
The way forward…
To succeed in the reconfigured work context, the engineers and professionals need to develop their capabilities in their niche. Getting established as a reliable engineer is hard work, arguably as hard as succeeding as a full-time employee!
Nothing trumps the quality hard work, but the reconfigured system will provide the engineers with flexibility of where to be present and possibly flexibility of time. The reconfigured workforce is here to stay and take the economy forward. Tasks are the way to go!