An introduction to the Human Cloud

An introduction to the Human Cloud and its relationship to gig working
In today’s fast paced business world, Cloud has become one of the key game-changer technologies.

Whenever we talk about the Cloud, we traditionally think of it as a business service. Simply put, it’s the location where organisations can store vast amounts of data and programmes over the Internet – the “Cloud” – and access real-time information and resources, on-demand.

Whilst Cloud services have been around for some time and are no longer seen as new technology, it is only recently that mainstream organisations have started adopting it as part of their business strategy, recognising the benefits of operational efficiencies and reduced costs when compared to traditional servers and software. This has also contributed to changes in the working practices, giving employees better tools, flexibility and mobility in terms of how, when and where they work.

A new way to get work done

The “human cloud” refers to jobs, projects or gigs that are carried out on demand – in the Cloud – from any location, and through any online/digital platform, typically by a contingent workforce. All they need is an internet connection. These jobs can be as simple as looking up email addresses on the web to more complex pieces of work like short-term consultancy projects.

According to the Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) report, the Human Cloud market generated between $25.6 billion and $28.6 billion globally over the past year. This is generated through three workforce models:

  • Online services – where a freelance workforce delivers a product through an online platform which manages the product or service. Uber is a typical example of an online work service.
  • Crowdsourcing – where contest/bid-based work is carried out by a “crowd” of workers, who each work independently on elements of a larger task or project. An example of this is Fiverr.
  • Online staffing – where the transaction is typically a direct legal relationship between the manager or individual and worker. TaskRabbit is an example of this model.

But what are the key motivators behind the adoption of these new models? For organisations, some of the main reasons include access to a greater talent pool, reduced costs, timeliness and expanded skills coverage which could help to temporarily close the skills gap in certain areas.

From the workforce perspective, the combination of digital and gig working enables the freedom of working independently, as well as the convenience and flexibility of working whenever, wherever and however they want. It’s also not just about the variety of digital platforms but the opportunity of working on different projects that are of their interest and choosing.

Do workers really want to be independent?

This approach has clear benefits for employers and overall appears to be an attractive option for some workers. But do individuals actually want to work this way? Plenty of people may welcome working more independently in the future, but only a limited number of people are doing so right now. According to ManpowerGroup’s Millennial research almost three-quarters of working Millennials are currently in full-time jobs and prefer the long-term security that comes with it.

Of course, the Millennial generation only represents a small portion of the workforce. The older generation must also be considered. For instance, by 2022, workers aged 50+ are projected to make up of 35.4% of the total workforce and their working styles and communication preferences must also be taken into account. Some older workers may in time prefer the flexibility that gig working can afford them.

Is Human Cloud the solution of the future?

Technology is transforming the world of recruitment. And whilst the Human Cloud is challenging the traditional working model, it’s clear that this approach isn’t the preference for many at present.

It’s important that employers align their workforce management process to the preferences of candidates; otherwise they will fail to secure the talent their business needs to thrive. By recognising and being open to new working models, and using them in combination with other, established ways of working (such as contracting, permanent working etc.) organisations can tap into all potential sources of talent and secure the best people for their business.

If you’re looking to make more strategic choices about acquiring, developing and retaining talent of all types, find out more about our Managed Service models today.