The phrase “these uncertain times” has been used frequently and still fits when describing the circumstances businesses and workers are finding themselves in.

We’re in an era where businesses are challenged by chronic skills shortages, along with economic uncertainty and budget constraints. Finding the right people to do the right work at the right time can be a considerable obstacle under these circumstances.

Enter the on-demand worker. Highly skilled workers who lend their expertise to companies on an as-needed basis are helping to boost the success of those businesses while allowing them to work within their budgetary constraints. Here at Worxbee, we’ve seen many clients hire on-demand administrative professionals.

Are on-demand workers right for you? Here’s what they can do and how to make an on-demand relationship successful:

What does “on demand” executive assistance mean?

As a general rule, it means that the AP will work with you on a short-term, project-based agreement. They come onboard when you need help but don’t need anyone in a full-time role.

The on-demand role tends to be different from a full-time AP role in that it’s generally for tasks that don’t require in-depth input or communication. In fact, the client often doesn’t have direct contact with the AP - they pass on the information for the work they need done and it gets assigned to an on-demand AP.

With this in-mind, the type of work shouldered by on-demand APs tends to be administrative tasks, perhaps falling on the more tedious end of the spectrum. It’s often those tasks that need doing, but take up a lot of time fiddling through details.

For example, we’ve had on-demand APs working on things like system switches. A switch of a major system such as a CRM can involve some tedious manual work or data input, and the need to ensure that all information is correctly entered into the new system.

Some other examples of low-input, short-term projects include data entry such as entering expenses into an accounting system and online research for projects the company wants to put together.

What are the benefits of hiring on-demand workers?

There are multiple benefits to hiring on-demand administrative professionals or other types of skilled workers. To begin with, an on-demand worker gives you the opportunity to have your staffing needs met without having to add someone to your payroll, or to meet a contractual hours requirement. They work on a project basis and that’s what their pay is tied to. Your company won’t have to provide benefits and can work within your staffing budget.

Secondly, hiring on-demand workers can give you access to the skills you need, when you need them. Companies have been severely challenged by a shortage of skilled labor, but opening your options up to on-demand workers, especially on a remote basis, can widen your net. Maybe you need a certain skill set, just not on a permanent basis - an on-demand worker can take care of that.

On-demand administrative professionals and other skilled roles bring with them the ability to be agile and flexible within your company. You can scale your work up or down to suit. The added agility often helps to spark an innovative environment and has even helped companies to accelerate their time to market.

Another valuable benefit is that on-demand workers can bring you the chance to get work done that has been on the “wish list” for a while. These workers are there for all those tasks where you say “it would be really great to get this done, but no one has the time.” This way you can keep your highest paid workers doing the high impact work, too.

Potential pitfalls when working with on-demand workers

One of the big pitfalls that can be found with hiring on-demand workers, especially for busy companies, is that sometimes there’s a lack of proper direction or scope outlined. Where there’s a disconnect, you might not get the work you were expecting.

Why does this happen? Sometimes it’s due to a general lack of time and ownership of overseeing the on-demand relationship. A busy manager who’s tasked with organizing the on-demand worker could deliver a hasty overview that is short on detail.

HBR found that in some companies, internal structure has been designed to keep out contractors and others on the outside. In their article which explores a trend in working with talent platforms, they state:

“Why, then, have so few companies designed strategic approaches to working with talent platforms? Because the structures and processes that most organizations have in place have been designed expressly to protect them from external vendors, much as white blood cells protect our bodies from pathogens. If companies want to work successfully with digital platforms, they need new structures and processes that function as immunosuppressants.”

Another related pitfall is that sometimes there’s a lack of clear instructions for on-demand workers. If there’s a set process for doing something, then it should be documented (or shared via video).

Tips for working successfully with on-demand workers

One of the biggest tips for a successful working relationship with an on-demand AP or other worker is to begin with a very clear scope. Define the goals you have for working with them and communicate those to the AP. It’s easier to do a good job when you understand expectations and have context around tasks and goals!

While work with an on-demand AP is often more hands-off on the part of the manager or executive, we’d always suggest keeping an open-door policy for any questions or clarifications. When working on a project basis, schedule in a few milestone dates for checking in.

Lastly, make sure the person is able to start from Day 1 with access to any tools or systems they will need. A lot of time can be wasted on chasing system access and it’s important that you set up on-demand workers for success from the beginning.

Final thoughts

On-demand workers are growing. They’re being used more and more by businesses to fill a temporary work need. Businesses can get access to highly skilled workers without having to add them onto the payroll.

The most successful ventures with on-demand workers tend to happen with businesses that intentionally make room for those workers. Your systems and processes should be there to ensure the best outcomes, rather than put barriers in place for any “outsiders.” Your scope of work should be clear and expectations should be defined.

Where can you find top on-demand talent? Worxbee offers on-demand administrative professionals as part of our services. We recruit the best AP talent and match them up with suitable projects. Talk to us today about how we can help you.