The company of the future will have ten people working for it as non-staff for every staff member. At least that’s if you believe Philip Letts, CEO of Blur, a British tech company. His staff of just 50 oversee a network of over 24,000 people, which makes 48 non-staff for each member of pay-roll. This article on the business of the future at Real Business make fascinating reading, and suggests that the days are long gone when business success was measured by how many you staff you have.
To be fair, he’s stating that as what he sees as the ‘optimal relationship’ between staff and non-staff. But I think it’s very powerful for small businesses. Small businesses often can’t compete on scale or budget, but they can have the upper hand with flexibility. Remote, non-contractual staff give small companies the chance to expand, shrink, get the right skills in the right place at the right time, and respond to the market rapidly and effectively.
I don’t know the details of Blur’s workforce, but my guess is that it covers a wide range of working arrangements, from freelance to full sub-contracting with other companies. The working landscape is full of different ways of working, and they’re all available for a visionary business owner.
The challenge is managing a virtual workforce – but managing an in-house team is no easier. It’s simply a different way of working, and one that, at Time Wizard, we’re committed to improving best practice on.
The article also raises the question of what it means for a national workforce. Does it mean the end of full-time jobs, and the beginning of a new era of instability? Possibly. But I’d like to think that by deliberately looking at good practices at this early stage, we can start to shape it so that it is as empowering as it is unsettling.