NO LONGERA WORKINGEXPERIMENT:Business colonies,synchronized workforces,and skill-set modules inscientific companiesMark A. Lanfear
2 | no longer a working experimentIntroductionFrom the world’s largest scientific and controlling costs at practically every of the most talented people no longer companies save money while still strivingorganizations to the smallest labs step in a particular process. A scientific seek traditional working arrangements. towards improving the quality of theirdoing critical R&D, all organizations company’s most important projects, it And, as more and more employers have process and, ultimately, their products.have had to transform the way they could be argued, are now often likely to be embraced these new workforce cultures, This white paper, part two of the Kellydo business in recent years. conducted on a micro—not macro—level. employers are realizing the benefits. Scientific Resources series on the scientificThe most obvious changes have come about But take away these classic business Business colonies, synchronized workforces, workforce of 2020 and beyond, will explorebecause of pure economics. Practically problems, and many futurists predict that and skill-set modules are all examples of the benefits of thinking in an innovativeeveryone is being challenged to do more companies around the globe would still workplace concepts that can “shake up” way when it comes to the workplace, andwith less. Particularly within the science move toward a different way of doing an employer’s thinking when it comes to how a workforce solutions company likeindustry, major shifts in the development things, simply because of how expectations their resource planning. These concepts Kelly can help companies with scienceof drugs and other products are indicators in the business world are transforming. not only promote knowledge sharing, focused needs take advantage of theseof how companies are conducting business After all, it’s a more connected world. Many but also have the potential to help unique pockets of human capital, workforce resources, sprouting up across the globe.
3 | no longer a working experiment01. how people work todayPart one of our series focused on the free-agency phenomenon that will beprominent in the workplace of 2020. Because of this catalyzing trend, free agencyis largely the driving force behind the innovative ways people are choosing towork via business colonies, synchronized workforces, and skill-set modules.So, it bears remarking that employers full-time traditional employment with an business flexibility. Free agency is clearly a once came with these scenarios. Thisshould consider the concept of free agency organization—account for four out of every good model for companies with a projected loss of longevity and predictabilty hasseriously. If companies around the world, 10 workers employed in the U.S. On the need. Free agents are also realizing that they had an influence on the employee’s viewand particularly scientific companies, are not international front, global research firm IDC are no longer on the fringe or considered of their workplace. A 2011 report byinformed as to why more professionals are predicts that as soon as 2013, there will be “inferior” next to their full-time peers. In Careerbuilder.com, in fact, found that 76%becoming free agents, these organizations about 1.19 billion free agents, or about fact some of the most talented people are of full-time workers would leave their currentmay miss out on the innovative ways they can 35% of the worldwide workforce. choosing the projects they want to work on jobs if a better opportunity came along.engage this talent. because of the freedom and mobility that the Other studies have variously shown that each But why such large numbers? From a basic free agent employment style provides. year companies can lose between 20 andThe numbers make a strong case for the business perspective, by engaging flexible 50% of their employee base through workersfree agency trend. The Kelly Services® 2011 and scalable workforce resources, companies And then there is the longevity factor. With simply finding other jobs.Free Agent Survey found that today can drive projects to get done faster without today’s uncertain economic environment44% of American workers across all the added process and expense of hiring and workforce scaling in recent years, many All of this points to new options and modelsindustries classify themselves as free permanent full time employees. It is also talented professionals weigh the options in the basic employment structure—whereagents. That’s a 70% increase since 2008 easier than ever to engage and disengage of long-term traditional employment both companies and individuals are comingaccording to the research, and it means this type of workforce because of advances relationships with companies if those together to seek out more effective ways ofthat free agents—those who do not have in technology, which yields cost savings and companies are not offering the security that doing business together.
4 | no longer a working experiment02. DEFINING BUSINESS COLONIES, SYNCHRONIZEDWORKFORCES, AND SKILL-SET MODULESSo what are business colonies, synchronized workforces, and skill-set modules?These can all mean different things to Take business colonies, which have launch their own business colonies as a time in the wake of global competition thatdifferent organizations. But at a basic been defined by futurist Thomas Frey of way to expand capability without adding demands that products are developed faster.level, these concepts are about engaging the DaVinci Institute as “organizational to headcount” and could possibly even structures designed around matching talent use these colonies for “experimental Skill-set modules are also similar to thethe right talent in the right place at the with pending work projects. The operation assignments best performed outside of the previous two concepts. We are seeing skill-right time—regardless of the work’s will revolve around some combination of cultural bounds of existing workflow”. set modules already crop up in the U.S., withphysical location. They would support resident people based in a physical facility certain geographic areas known for housingbanishing the cubicle and fixed schedule. and a non-resident virtual workforce. Similar to business colonies, synchronized highly skilled professionals with the sameAnd they are about embracing the shift Some business colonies will forgo the workforces are pockets of talent that are credentials and experience. Biotech hubs forto a workplace model independent of cost of the physical facility completely, considered a critical asset to an organization, example, are concentrated in the eastern U.S.traditional employment constraints. After opting instead to form around an entirely but are not necessarily fully activatedall, the workplace itself has become throughout the entire course of a project. As skill-set modules develop, companies virtual communications structure”.virtual, and modern thinking demands Companies might employ these workforces will learn where they can find the bestthe realization that work can happen With these business colonies established, “in sync” with other pockets of talent in talent in certain areas. And even if aanywhere and at any time. Ultimately, workers are able to seek work on a project a different part of the country or on an company is located in a city in the U.S.,these concepts are about fulfilling the needs basis from companies that are seeking entirely different continent. All working they might very well end up using aand expectations of both organizations their specific skills. In some instances, on different aspects of the same project, skilled module in Europe or Asia toand the people who work for them. according to Frey, “corporations will helping companies save not only money, but complete a critical aspect of a project.
5 | no longer a working experiment03. IMPLICATIONS FOR YOUR SCIENTIFIC BUSINESSMajor economic shifts in the science industry are changing the waydrugs and other important products are being developed.This is perhaps the single best reason has started to wane. Considering that now for the duration of the project—yielding to the table. The company can engage onefor any scientific company to explore the age of personalized medicine isn’t far off, cost and time efficiencies. By using the skill-set at a specific time and then disengagehow concepts like business colonies, and that a one-size-fits-all approach to curing power of business colonies, synchronized when it is no longer needed—freeing vitalsynchronized workforces, and skill-set what ails us may no longer be medically, workforces, and skill-set modules, capital for use in core R&D projects. And thatmodules can add value to core processes let alone financially, viable. As a result, companies can easily engage talent on, for company can retain the knowledge of thosethat will allow them to attract the best companies are in search of and theorizing example, a sequential or as-needed basis. skilled individuals for use in future projects.talent that may desire to work outside of about how to remain increasingly productive One company might have protemics research Whether the company is using a businessthe traditional employment arrangements. on a seemingly much less grand budget and and development happening in Boston, colony, synchronized workforce, or skill scale, but nevertheless remain cutting-edge.An important influencer that demonstrates San Diego, and Madison, Wisconsin. Each set module, the outcome may be similar:the need for innovation in workforce Drug development and other complex location has a specific task and specialty, the use of highly skilled talent in a just-in-strategies is the expiration of patents projects will continue to take years to and the talent organized in each location is time fashion to make the developmenton the world’s blockbuster drugs. These complete. Companies may realize that in working on a virtual basis with each other. process more efficient and the end productdrugs once brought in billions of dollars today’s connected world of highly skilled One pocket of talent might have to work later as high in quality as possible without theof revenue that could be used for further free agent workforce, there is no longer the in the process, another earlier in the process, constraints of traditional employment.research efforts, but their earning potential need to engage certain pockets of talent but they all have unique expertise to bring
6 | no longer a working experiment04. TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE TRENDIt may not be a matter of if, but when, organizations begin to embrace the workforce trends of thefuture. These new pockets of talent all over the globe can significantly contribute to the overallknowledge and expertise of the companies that engage them. However, great intentions to takeadvantage of the new way people are working won’t succeed without a solid workforce strategy.By assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your workforce today, and reaching for the experthelp in engaging the proper talent, business colonies, synchronized workforces, and skill-setmodules may be a way that you can improve the management of your flexible workforce needs.Increasingly, they are a key element to the success of the scientific companies, and of the workerswho bring their innovations to life.Want more information?This white paper is part of the Kelly Scientific Resources series The Scientific Workforce of 2020 and Beyond.Download this and other papers in the series at kellyscientific.com today.References:1. Free Agent Survey, Kelly Services, Inc. 20112. Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2009-2013 Forecast. International Data Corporation. www.idc.com3. “Declining Employee Loyalty: A Casualty of the New Workplace.” www.knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu. Published online, May 9, 2012.4. “Talent Mobility 2020: The Next Generation of International Assignments.” Price Waterhouse Coopers.