The future of work is undergoing a seismic shift. In the past, companies measured their strength by the number of full-time employees in their ranks. As we enter an era marked by digital transformation and societal change, employers worldwide are reimagining the traditional workforce model.
Emerging from this paradigm shift is the concept of a "blended workforce." It represents a strategic approach that combines full-time employees, part-time workers, gig workers, and potentially includes what could be called "virtual" employees, powered by AI and automation.
What is a Blended Workforce?
A blended workforce is a workforce model that includes full-time employees, part-time workers, gig workers, and AI in response to changing market demands.
Specifically, heads of human resources (HR) expect their total workforce composition to change within the next couple of years, according to Google Executive Networks’ CHRO of the Future report. Specifically, they foresee a decrease in full-time employees from 56% to 44%. Part-time employees are expected to nearly double from 36% to 64%.
Furthermore, there is an anticipated increase in the number of contractors and freelancers, also known as contingent workers, projected to grow from 44% to 56%. They also expect the use of bots to skyrocket from 10% to potentially reaching 90%. This shift reflects the changing labor market dynamics and the increasing importance of temporary workers.
Advantages of a Blended Workforce
This blended workforce gives employers more flexibility to “right-size” their staffing on an ongoing basis. For example, the "gig economy" offers talent on demand, providing a solution for short-term needs.
Need a software developer for three months? Or a graphic designer for a week-long project? The gig economy can deliver.
This dynamism allows businesses to remain agile and adapt to changing market needs without the long-term financial commitments associated with full-time employees. It also caters to the work-life balance that skilled workers value.
Then, there’s another layer to this blended workforce, one that doesn't need health benefits, retirement plans, or even lunch breaks. AI and automation are swiftly becoming indispensable members of the team, undertaking tasks that were previously the domain of humans. Grand View Research reports that AI is expected to grow by 37.3% annually between 2023 to 2030 – a phenomenal rate of growth.
In many industries, automation is already side by side with human workers. Robots, for instance, handle repetitive tasks in manufacturing, while humans focus on quality control or complex assembly. Similarly, AI-driven tools in healthcare assist doctors by analyzing large sets of medical data, enabling clinicians to make better decisions. This integration can contribute to performance management and the evolving nature of work.
Challenges and Opportunities
The expansion of AI naturally raises both concerns and skepticism.
In fact, 77% of people worry that AI will bring about significant job losses as a result of its increased adoption. It may well do so; however, it will also almost certainly simultaneously create new jobs. The World Economic Forum estimates that AI will displace 85 million jobs within the next few years but also create 97 million new jobs – a net gain overall.
The key to successfully planning and navigating this transition lies in upskilling and reskilling the workforce. Bridging the skill gap ensures that employees have the necessary skills to take on newly emerging roles.
“It must be stressed that implementing [automation] technologies can lead to enhanced job creation, as seen with all disruptive technologies,” says Sharon Auma-Ebanyat, research director at Info-Tech Research Group. “It can also provide more value to existing jobs.”
The blending of the workforce of the future is not merely a trend but a strategic response to the evolving nature of work. As companies navigate this uncharted territory, those who adapt, embracing the combined strengths of humans and technology, are poised to thrive.
The future of work is not about specific employment models or humans versus machines. Instead, it's about using the right resource for the need and making optimal use of all available resources, be it full-time, part-time, contract, or automated. This also involves maintaining a healthy work-life balance for both full-time staff and part-time workers.
At CoAdvantage, a top Professional Employer Organization (PEO), we specialize in tailored HR solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Our services include HR administration, benefits, payroll, and more. Get in touch now to explore how we can help you establish an effective HR framework for business growth.