How to manage remote talent

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I was going through my morning ritual; brewing a pot of coffee (in Italy), looking over a marketing plan for a client (in Toronto), preparing to check-in with my team (in Romania), and scanning emails – hell yes, I can multitask in the mornings.

One of the HARO emails queries caught my attention: Freelancers Prepare for Corporate Jobs. 

Hang-on, shouldn't this be the other way around? In a few milliseconds, my marketing brain kicked in: must be one of those headlines designed to grab your attention. So, I scrolled down to the brief and continued reading; it is, in fact, a request for interviews on how freelancers can prepare for corporate jobs.

While it will probably make for a useful story, it's not the real story.

The real story is that there is a growing trend toward freelancing. Forbes recently put this at over 30% of the US workforce. And, as the global competition for talent intensifies, companies, not freelancers, will need to prepare for a new kind of workforce. 

The generation entering the workplace today are born digital. They seek flexibility over traditional corporate structure; they don't see the need to be in the same office from 9-5 every day, they don't see the need to work for the same employer every day, they don't even see the need to work in the same country every day.

Flexibility doesn't imply that they are frivolous, anything but. They are talented, focused, and want to get the job done, while still having time to explore other activities.

To be clear, this doesn't just apply to the Millennials. I belong to an email group of ageing professional, some of the top developer talents in the world – not sure how I got on there – who are predominantly freelancing, and cherry-picking their customers.

Over the weekend, I met a man on the train to Venice. He's from a 400 strong San Francisco based software company and his team is spread across the globe. When they run their quarterly company town hall meetings, the CEO sits behind a computer, making sure he has the same perspective as every other member of the team dialling in from around the world, and that he isn't favouring a room full of people.

This generation of digital natives is changing the way we work. They aren't scared of getting the job done, but they expect their work environment to be flexible and efficient. And it doesn't even seem to be a generational thing anymore, rather a new mindset spreading across workers from all over the world. I for one am glad to be part of this new shift in mentality.