The shift to remote work has highlighted the value-additive nature of flexible, fractional professionals with specific skillsets.

by Anita Samojednik

The professional workforce has learned a lot over the last 12 months, particularly when it comes to our ability to adapt and nimbly transform to work remotely in roles that were defined as part of legacy, in-office business models.

Now, with promising vaccine rollouts, many businesses face the question of whether to embrace remote work and all its potential by integrating it into their business model or return to an onsite-only policy. Adjusting to remote work solutions has not been without its challenges, but it has also enabled the democratization of talent, in that companies can increasingly attract and retain highly qualified professionals they previously wouldn’t have had access to.

Location is now limitless

Traditionally, companies have been limited to hiring talent within their own geographic footprint or burdened with the cost of relocation when searching broadly. As a result, they’ve been confined to a specific talent pool and may have missed out on the best-fit candidates because the right talent wasn’t necessarily located in close proximity to their office. Remote work allows for a democratization of talent by making skilled professionals more accessible to the companies that need them regardless of their location. While working remotely was new to a lot of people in 2020, business professionals quickly adapted to a new working environment, demonstrating their mastery of working toward and achieving business goals while performing in a remote capacity.

A lot can be learned from freelancers, the original remote workers in many regards. Freelance professionals are able to work how, when and where they desire, often focused more on generating results through their deliverables than sticking to structured day-to-day schedule, in turn enabling a certain degree of flexibility in both their personal and professional lives. Those professionals who worked remotely well before the pandemic can attest to the fact that remote-first work can be beneficial for both employees and companies if approached correctly.

The best talent wants to work on projects that allow them to grow, develop and leverage their expertise, and they want to do so with the clients they want, from where they want. The sooner companies start building systems that accommodate for such a change, the better. Prior to the pandemic, the concept of remote work may have seemed like an abstract concept to many, but as we look ahead to the future of work, now is the time for companies to embrace how they can adapt to different ways of working.

Leveling the talent playing field without the cost

The pandemic and shift to remote work has highlighted the value-additive nature of flexible, fractional professionals with specific skill sets who are able to solve problems and amplify efforts to meet specific business goals. The democratization of talent is enabling businesses of all sizes to access top industry professionals who may have otherwise been only accessible to large or high-profile enterprises. As such, professional freelance platforms are helping companies access this deeply experienced industry talent without the cost-prohibitive premium of major firms and “brand name” consultants.

Leveraging fractional remote professionals also offers a level of flexibility that businesses do not have with full-time hires. This advantage has been underscored during times of uncertainty and economic hardship, but it is equally apparent during times of growth and success. Fractional support enables companies to easily scale up or down based on business needs, only paying for the specific expertise and skillsets they require on an ongoing or ad hoc basis. For instance, a company may require a highly specialized team to support a major transaction or just one seasoned professional for bookkeeping purposes. Companies can tap these professionals and integrate them into flexible teams to ensure they have the best combination of skill sets to accomplish business goals in an efficient manner.

As the pandemic has transformed the way we work, it has become apparent that the future of work will lean heavily on variations of remote work. More and more professionals are reevaluating whether or not they want to be tied to on-site jobs, putting into question the future of urban meccas, but also accelerating adoption of an already growing network of highly skilled remote professionals. To win the war for talent, companies will need to embrace remote work versus limiting themselves by requiring onsite support.

Anita Samojednik is the chief executive officer at Paro, a Chicago-based startup disrupting the way companies access on-demand financial expertise. Formerly, Anita held the position of chief operating officer (COO) at the company and was promoted to her current role in January 2021.

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