Catalant Expert Marketplace Demand Trends & the Pressing Need for a Flexible Workforce
In the article “The Dawning of the Age of Flex Labor“, which appeared in Harvard Business Review in 2015, Catalant co-founder and CEO Rob Biederman outlined a vision for how changing work expectations and technology adoption would lead to a more flexible work system:
There are two reasons such a flexible work system is now plausible. The first is societal values. Work-life balance and family friendly scheduling are much more important to today’s workers, and companies are increasingly willing to accommodate them. The second is technology. Advances in the last five years have greatly improved the ease with which people can work and collaborate remotely and companies and contract workers can find each other.Rob Biederman
Co-CEO & Co-Founder
In 2015, values and technology had made a more flexible work system plausible. In 2020, as the pandemic has put unprecedented pressures on businesses and workers alike, a more flexible system has become not only possible but essential.
For businesses: the pandemic has exacerbated existing capability and capacity gaps. It has forced businesses to pivot their strategies and accelerated the need for digital transformation at the same time as it has forced companies to take on cost-saving measures and make sharp cuts to their workforces. This means that businesses are running leaner than ever while simultaneously having to do things they have never done before. As a result, they need access to capabilities — in many cases, temporarily — that may not exist within the organization.
For workers: there are millions of people who have been furloughed or laid off. Millions more must accommodate changing family pressures and childcare demands and are looking for flexible work arrangements and revenue streams outside of conventional full-time positions to ride out this period of volatility and uncertainty.
Catalant’s Expert Marketplace has been designed to enable this flexibility by providing enterprise leaders an efficient, scalable way to access the capabilities and expertise they need to execute their most important work.
What are we observing in project demand across the Catalant Expert Marketplace?
Project demand continues to shift as companies continue to adapt to pandemic market conditions and reimagine the future of competition and working in a remote-first world. They’re changing what they do, how they describe what they do, how they make products, how they deliver them, and how they manage execution.
Data in the table below reflect changes in proportional project volume in the Catalant Expert Marketplace. The baseline period ran 1/1/19 – 2/29/20.
What does it all mean?
Here are some trends identified in the table above and some brief hypotheses on their drivers:
One of the most persistent threads is the prioritization of supply chain workstreams. In our previous look at demand trends back in April, an increase in Supply Chain projects stood out as companies reacted to disruptions in raw materials and finished products on one hand and increased demand on the other. From March to June, interest in Supply Chain projects increased 47.9% from the baseline period in the initial response to the disruption. This trend has only continued from there: in June & July, Supply Chain project demand increased a further 23.6%.
As companies transform not only their operations but their strategic priorities, they’re looking for additional strategy expertise. Corporate Strategy project demand waned at the beginning of the pandemic, but has surged as companies are moving from reaction and recovery to reinvention, and is now higher than in the baseline period.
Similarly, while Project Management demand increased slightly in the early pandemic period, in June & July project demand was up 24.5%, and is 28% higher than the baseline period—suggesting that businesses are changing how they manage execution in the face of shifting priorities and more limited resources.
On the other side of the trend line, Operations & Process Improvement project demand dropped sharply as the pandemic unfolded, declining 33.2% in the initial period, and is yet to return to baseline levels. This suggests that as companies are transforming in response to new market conditions, they’re focused less on optimizing current processes and more on making wholesale changes to how they operate.
Somewhat surprising have been the trends in project demand for technology and financing business needs. After a sharp increase in Technology & Digital project demand in the first few months of the pandemic, demand decreased 26.5% in June & July from that initial phase. Companies may have addressed immediate technology needs in the turn to remote work, but digital transformation is still ongoing: despite the more recent demand decrease, project demand is still up 19.6% versus the baseline.
Finance & Accounting project demand similarly increased in the early pandemic months as companies rebalanced resources and made difficult decisions about where to place their bets. As companies are settling into the new situation and are continuing to adapt, demand for these projects decreased 35.2% in June & July to below baseline levels.
What comes next?
While it’s impossible to know the full effect the pandemic will have on the global economy, certain business pressures have been made clear and the lessons that large companies learn during this period will have a lasting impact on the workforce and corporations of the future. As businesses continue to navigate uncharted waters, leaders will be looking to use technology to strengthen their digital workplace capabilities and to build organizational resilience through flexibility and adaptability.
Catalant’s Expert Marketplace has the talent and technology to help you get from strategy to execution faster.
Through years of developing Catalant’s Expert Marketplace and SaaS platform with our enterprise customers, we’ve learned that uniting the right capabilities with the right technology is indispensable for scaling with large companies and evolving with their changing needs.
Our Expert Marketplace is an efficient, scalable way to find the right resource at the right time for your company’s most important work, giving you direct access to the knowledge and skills you need to execute your strategies.
Full-Time Employees vs. the Catalant Expert Marketplace
Traditional employment models aren’t well suited for flexibly meeting the demands of a world in flux. Widespread uncertainty and volatile markets are compelling leaders to reduce and variabilize fixed labor costs.
Traditional Consulting Firms vs. the Catalant Expert Marketplace
Traditional consulting firms aren’t right-sized for the work many companies need right now, and can no longer camp out in clients’ offices due to public health concerns and an increasingly digital workplace.