Welcome to the new world of work—a mix of independent contractors, freelancers, and gig workers that has more than doubled in size over the past decade. As recently as 2008, only fifteen percent of the average company’s overall workforce was considered contingent. Today, over forty-one percent of the average enterprise’s total workforce is non-employee, and ninety-seven percent of organizations consider independent talent to be critical to their success.
What’s causing this significant shift within our workforce?
Seventy-one percent of all enterprises cite agility as a top goal. Engaging a variable workforce allows organizations to respond to real-time business challenges, quickly deploy talent where and when it’s needed, scale up or down to meet seasonal demands, and focus on growth without committing resources to fixed staffing overhead.
Talented individuals with valuable skill sets are opting for greater professional control and autonomy, choosing to leverage their expertise to work how, when, and where they choose.
New Technologies and Tools
As business needs and worker preferences shift from traditional employment to flexible, project-based work, integrated SaaS platforms and other technologies make it possible to scale a complex variable workforce, enabling companies of all sizes to efficiently source, manage, and deploy on-demand talent.
This guide provides a holistic view of how field service organizations are leveraging contingent labor to reduce costs and risk, increase work order efficiency, and expand operations with greater flexibility than ever before possible.
How Contingent Field Service Labor Can Impact Your Business
Reduce Costs with Recruiting, Training, and Retention
The costs of maintaining a highly-skilled, full-time workforce is rising, with benefits alone accounting for more than thirty-one percent of an average employee’s total compensation package.
By shifting part of their workforce from traditional W-2 employees to specialized contract technicians, field service organizations are able to reduce costs without sacrificing service quality—forty-three percent of companies using a contingent workforce report saving at least twenty percent in labor costs.
Travel and Office Locations
Comprehensive Service Level Agreements (SLAs) often require an on-site presence based on customer needs. In the past, this would require either expensive travel and additional costly overtime for a centrally-located workforce, or establishing satellite locations and additional staff to accommodate demand.
Because contract technicians can be found in nearly every location around the world, it’s now possible to service clients in almost any area without the costs of additional infrastructure and travel.
Many contract technicians purchase and maintain their own equipment—vehicles, tools, laptops, and smartphones—further reducing the capital investment required to provide a broad range of services.
Project Completion Costs
To protect profits and maintain sustainable growth, job costs must be strictly controlled. Accessing a labor pool of expert independent talent helps ensure that each job is completed quickly, efficiently, and profitably.
Many digital staffing outlets help indemnify enterprises by ensuring that all contract technicians sourced through their platform are compliant with specific industry regulations and certifications.
To minimize liability risks, companies can narrow their search to only include providers and contract technicians who supply their own insurance coverage.
Engaging with flexible contract technicians to fulfill work orders makes it easier to gauge demand before committing long-term resources and staff, offering a low risk way to expand to new geographic service areas.
Increasing Field Service Work Order Efficiency
Scheduling and Utilizing Current Employees
Getting the most value possible from a blended workforce—the mix of both W-2 employees and independent contractors—requires ongoing communication and detailed tracking.
Freelance Management System (FMS) platforms have become critical tools for optimizing this complex mix of talent, allowing companies to efficiently find, recruit, and manage their entire workforce from one place.
Nearly sixty percent of organizations across the globe leverage online talent platforms, helping them manage both W-2 employees and contingent workers, as well as access data and reports from one integrated system. An FMS also makes it easier for W-2 employees and contract technicians to collaborate on projects, hit performance targets, and work together to drive the business forward.
Expand Your Reach and Impact
Accessing an FMS-enabled variable workforce allows companies to accept more work by helping them fill labor gaps, complete projects more quickly, and balance out the peaks and valleys in field service demand—all without overloading their W-2 employees.
Get the Right Talent Fast
By using an FMS to source contingent labor, hiring and project managers can quickly engage contract technicians based on skill set, experience, and location.
Win More Bids
Offering a diverse range of solutions via access to expert talent helps companies win more bids by demonstrating their ability to deliver exceptional service.
Create Accurate Proposals and Stay on Budget
Real-time labor pricing makes it possible to quickly create accurate proposals for even the largest, most complex projects. Pricing data provides access to each territory’s local market labor rate, filtered by specific location, qualifications, skill sets, and other key criteria. These insights help companies control costs, avoid overpaying for work, and ensure that each project is completed within the agreed upon budget.
Meet Every SLA
According to a recent Blumberg Advisory Group study, companies using a variable workforce achieve eighty-two percent SLA compliance, compared with seventy-six percent of companies that don’t use a variable workforce model.
Best in class FMS users overwhelmingly outperform overall service industry averages for productivity and utilization: ninety-eight percent SLA compliance for FMS users compared to eighty-one percent service industry average, and ninety-six percent first-time fix rate for FMS users compared to seventy-eight percent service industry average.
Provide Faster Service
Three-quarters of variable workforce users experience shorter travel time than non-users. The average travel time for emergency service calls is sixty minutes or less for seventy-three percent of variable workforce users compared to fifty percent of non-users.
FMS users also experience faster average travel time for emergency service calls: forty-five minutes or less for forty-two percent of FMS users, compared to nineteen percent of users of other types of variable workforce.
Growing Your Business With a Contingent Workforce
Pieced together software packages and sourcing strategies lead to information gaps that make it challenging to scale field operations. To get the most out of your variable workforce, it’s critical to have a platform in place that allows you to integrate seamlessly with your existing systems, eliminates time-consuming manual data entry, and provides real-time reporting.
Focus on the Big Picture
Take a high-level view and focus on identifying inefficiencies and areas for growth. An integrated FMS platform consolidates critical data to a single dashboard view, allowing for greater visibility, accountability, and control.
Establishing an efficient process for new contractor screening, vetting, interviewing, and onboarding enables you to dispatch contract technicians to deliver on new SLAs as soon as they come in. The average onboard time is less than eleven days for eighty-eight percent of FMS users, compared to thirty-one percent of users of other types of variable workforce.
Enter New Markets
You may be inclined to postpone expansion to new geographic territories until you can justify hiring a full-time field service technician. The dilemma? It can feel risky hiring a field service provider before you’ve entered and built up the market.
Eighty percent of FMS users reported improvements in geographic coverage. Companies can leverage an FMS to:
- Scout and vet candidates across the globe to expand coverage
- Filter contractors based on experience, skill sets, and certifications
- Negotiate fees to get the best possible price for each service
- Receive checkpoints throughout projects for quality assurance
- Process contracts, tax forms, and final payment on a single platform
- Track progress and engage contractors to meet deadlines
Explore New Verticals
In addition to enabling geographic growth, access to a contingent workforce helps you to quickly expand services to related verticals. A company specializing in maintaining point-of-sale (POS) systems may have the opportunity to begin servicing a client’s digital signage as well and then engage with specialized contract technicians to fill that skill gap in their existing workforce.
Keep Up With Customer Expectations
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Value Added Resellers (VARs), and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are under constant market pressure to expand service capabilities in order to retain key accounts. A small regional MSP may face pressure to expand services to include their client’s national locations or related systems. Access to specialized contingent labor makes it possible to fulfill customer demand in a way that would be time- and cost-prohibitive with a traditional workforce.
As the need for flexibility continues to drive both enterprises and talent, the use of a contingent workforce for field service operations will continue to grow. At the same time, FMS platforms like Field Nation One can help provide the efficiency, transparency, and integration needed to unlock the greatest possible value from this new world of work.