The Hybrid Working Era

There are a great many ‘hybrids’ in the digital age—hybrid cars, hybrid cricket pitches, and, more recently, hybrid working practices. A hybrid is qualified as a thing made by combining two different elements. In the working world of 2022, the headlines are going to workplaces that are blending working in the office with working at home.

According to Accenture, 63% of high-revenue growth companies are now adopting hybrid working patterns. That means the majority of workers can work at home for part of their working week. In this article, we ask the question, ‘How are Vendor Management Systems (or ‘VMS’) used to hire and manage contingent talent adapting to this new era of hybrid working?’

How much time do people want to spend at home? A study by Stanford found 55% of respondents want to spend some time in the office and some time at home. Interestingly, 25% of workers in the study want to work a home full time, and 20% of workers only want to work in the office.

The Hybrid Workforce DNA

Before examining how Vendor Management Systems are themselves adapting to serve the future of work, we have to reflect on how the modern workforce is changing. Drop the old-fashioned belief that the number of full-time workers is a measure of a company’s success. Nowadays businesses strive for workforce agility. They know that payroll is their biggest expense (probably anyway), and adapting their workforce is one of the most rigid aspects of their organizational design. Unfortunately, that’s not good news in today’s constantly changing economy.

businesswoman working from home, typing on laptop

What VMS Platforms Do

For those unfamiliar with the role of a Vendor Management System, the primary role of this type of software is to help employers to manage their procurement relationships with staffing vendors.

At least, that was the history. The first VMS platforms of note replaced the humble spreadsheet as a mechanism to manage vendor selection, performance, compliance, billing, etc. As the state-of-the-art evolved, the VMS has become richer in features to support the entire contingent workforce hiring and management process from req-to-check.

Modern systems embrace the latest methods used by firms to reach out to their talent audiences. This includes Statement-of-Work (SOW) contracting modules and Direct Sourcing platforms that equip internal recruiting teams with the means to reach out to their pre-vetted alumni, previous applicants, and social channels to leverage available ‘near-line’ talent, thereby removing agency hiring fees.

VMS Features for a Hybrid Workforce

Hybrid working practices necessitate a number of functional changes to the hiring and req-to-check. Some of these demand completely new feature requirements, while others exaggerate capabilities that existed before. Here we list 5 examples.

#1 Talent discovery and market-rate transparency

Hybrid working presents opportunities to offer roles to people beyond the geography of the commuter belt. Expanding candidate search to a broader territory increases the size of the talent pool and brings with it rate economies. Supporting this activity requires VMS platforms to offer richer market data insights across a broader geography and provide rich data visualization to make it simpler for hiring managers to make informed decisions

#2 Remote recruitment tooling

It’s not always possible, practical or desirable to coordinate face-to-face meetings when operating a hybrid workforce model. Hiring tools need to embrace virtual interviews and offer aids to hiring managers for use in qualifying candidates and giving feedback.

#3 Online background checks and skills testing

Firms used to depend on face-to-face encounters with candidates to perform skills testing. In this area too, virtual working has changed attitudes to how an activity so crucial to successful hiring is performed. Modern VMS platforms integrate snugly with online testing and background check platforms (commonly powered by artificial intelligence these days). Examples of testing platforms include hackerrank, questionmark, hirevue, triplebyte and ghostinspector.

smiling excited woman in a video interview at home

#4 Digital signatures and onboarding

Not all candidates have the opportunity to venture into an office to submit their signed forms. This has led to rapid growth in the use of digital signature platforms like DocuSign, Signatury, e-sign and panda doc. The latest research into the digital signature industry suggests the market will grow from USD 2.8 billion in 2020 to USD 14.1 billion by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 31.0% during the forecast period.

#5 On-demand 24/7 support with chat and voicebots

 With many people working from home for at least part of the work (including candidates and hiring managers of course), the need to support enquiries 24/7 has never been more important, and challenging. Technologies like chatbots and voicebots are gradually coming into their own for these use cases. Using the latest interpretive chatbot training platforms like INTNT.AI – that interpret false positive responses and missed intents – VMS platforms have the opportunity to make conversation with HR and admin teams simpler to overcome typical day to day challenges like payment and pay rate queries, insurance cover, and identity checks.

Final Thoughts

Hybrid working isn’t a ‘done deal.’ There are a great many skeptics who believe the world of work will eventually step back to times of daily commutes. And there is some evidence to support this claim.

The same Accenture research highlighted earlier in this report found that three in four Gen Zers (74%) want more opportunities to collaborate with colleagues face-to-face, a higher percentage than Gen Xers (66%) and Baby Boomers (68%). What we can take from this is younger people want the social interaction that face-to-face working brings.

This means that technologies like Vendor Management Systems have to broaden their features lists to cater for every eventuality; adding more virtual and 24/7 services to cater for ‘hybrid’ while retaining those qualities that continue to make them relevant for companies that prefer see their people behind an office desk.

Ian Tomlin

Ian Tomlin

Author

Ian Tomlin is a marketer, entrepreneur, business leader and management consultant. His passion is to help make great ideas happen. Relentlessly optimistic about the potential of technology for good, Ian’s 30+ year career has focused around the intersect of strategy, technology and marketing. He writes on subjects including workforce management, future of work, talent acquisition technology and organizational design.
Ian has written books, articles and guides on brand, digital transformation, enterprise applications, data science, and organizational design. He can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter.