Collaboration and the Fluid Workforce

Jamie Read

Humans are messy animals. So, it’s no surprise that when we work together, the results can be unexpected. But we are also social animals and through collaboration, we have achieved more than any other species on this planet, by a longshot.

But what makes one team successful where another fails?

And how are team dynamics, which weren’t well understood to begin with, affected by Covid-19 and the remote work movement?

Businesses are now being forced to look at their organizations differently. With the world changing week-to-week, decisions need to be taken quickly and acted on confidently. Workforces that used to sit in tidy departments, separated by physical offices and cubicles are suddenly spread out and disconnected save for incessant emails and Zoom meetings. Many companies are seeing this as a disruption to their way of doing business, but organizations that embrace a shift towards more fluid approaches can realize the opportunities for team dynamics and unleash the power of collaboration for their business.

For inspiration, look no further than the collaborative force disrupting the traditional agency and consultancy models. Networks of freelancers and independent contractors, such as Fluid or BriteBirch Collective offer flexibility, customization, and right-sizing of teams. These teams are designed around the problem that needs solving as opposed to how organizations typically redefine problems to fit neatly into the wheelhouse of a certain discipline or department.

For leaders hoping to bend with the fluidity curve that is affecting the changing talent movement, the way forward lies in accepting two fundamental truths.

  1. The decentralized, digital workforce of the future doesn’t operate in ‘departments’ or ‘hierarchies’ but as a flat, interconnected network of individual skills, experience and personalities.
  2. Success and failure will hinge on how to best mesh these three factors into hybrid teams that will also include independent specialists and artificial intelligence agents.

The emerging role of HR in the hybrid workforce revolution is that of a central command and team coordinator, directing a blended, flexible, global workforce assigned to definitive challenges rather than redundant tasks. Understanding the science of what makes a great team becomes the critical factor for this new talent architecture. And as complexity science shows, it isn’t the team with the best talent that succeeds, but one where the diversity of skills, the depth of experience and blend of personality types synergizes to unlock innovative, fluid solutions. To execute this role well, HR will need to play matchmaker between technology and talent and develop an innate understanding of human nature,

which is to say, human messiness.