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  • Ron Favali

Professional Talent, Distributed

Given the date on the calendar, recaps and predictions have been clogging social feeds and inboxes for the past couple of weeks.

Most of the content pushed my way tends to focus on technology in general, marketing, and how technology will impact the "future of work."

These articles tend to push the limits of boredom, especially on the future of work. AI will impact every job; technology is an enabler; the role of the CHRO is critical. Really?!? I think most middle school students grasp these concepts.

Believe it or not, technology can’t solve all problems. A more significant trend that will impact technology companies of all sizes centers on employment models.

We are in the midst of a prolonged period of record-low unemployment that has no end in sight. While automation can supplement low skill jobs, there is no viable technology solution to replace highly talented, in-demand professionals.

Until recently, the fight to acquire the best available professional talent was fought with the dollar. The casualties of this fight in some areas of the country are salaries companies can't afford to pay and unsustainable costs of living.

Some companies have determined that it is more profitable to pay employees bonuses to leave cities like San Francisco than keep them there over the long term. There is also a growing list of innovative companies that only hire remote workers.

These are two extreme examples that won't work for most organizations. However, the growing skills gap for professional talent has no end in sight.

This gap is hitting the tech industry especially hard. Once the realm of cities like San Francisco, New York, and Boston, concentrated hubs of startups are blossoming all over the county, creating further strain on the supply of precious professional tech talent. In Tampa Bay, where I live, ten percent of all technology jobs unfilled. That's over 6,000 jobs, and no fast way to fill them. I promise the situation is similar where you live. St. Pete Catalyst published some of my thoughts on this earlier this year.

Using technology to try and close the tech skills gap has become table stakes. Your organization has access to the same technology every other organization has. At best you may have a couple of months head start.

The professional talent is out there, but many desire different ways of working. The days of top talent relocating from one city to another every few years is over. The last recession put a damper on corporations willing to pay relocation packages. Companies that still offer relocation packages get rejected by two-thirds of employees.

As we sit at the dawn of a new decade, winners and losers may be decided by the ability to close the skills gap by using flexible employment models, including incorporating highly skilled in-demand distributed talent into their organization. Distributed talent is less expensive than traditional employees and generates results faster.

This is NOT the gig economy, which is based on undifferentiated skills. This is about a growing number of professionals in the tech industry who, for a wide range of reasons, have consciously decided to shun the traditional office model in favor of using their skills and talents to help companies achieve specific goals. In this model, the location of the company and the employee are largely irrelevant. It’s about closing a skills gap as fast as possible.

I've been an active participant in this model since 2017. Before that, I worked remotely for a large technology company for 15 years.

This is a fascinating model that is set to explode. It comes with challenges and rewards for both the professional and the company.

Starting in January, I'll launch a podcast to explore some of these issues. Topics that we'll address include:

  • How to incorporate distributed talent into your workforce.

  • Lower costs and faster results with distributed talent.

  • Getting started as a distributed professional.

  • The impact of potential "gig economy" legislation on distributed professionals.

  • The distributed agency model.

  • Tools and resources for distributed talent.

These are exciting times. I predict that by the end of this coming decade, in households with two professionals, at least one of them will not work in a traditional office environment. This journey will have many ups and downs that I hope we can explore together.

The first podcast will launch in a few weeks. Shoot me a message if you'd like to be notified when it's available. I'd also love to hear about any ideas you have for topics around distributed talent to explore.

Happy New Year!

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