The Future of Work is Through Workforce Ecosystems

Altman, E. J., Kiron, D., Schwartz, J., & Jones, R. 2021. The Future of Work is Through Workforce Ecosystems. MIT Sloan Management Review.

Posted: 15 Mar 2021

See all articles by Elizabeth J. Altman

Elizabeth J. Altman

University of Massachusetts Lowell

David Kiron

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Jeff Schwartz

Deloitte Consulting; Cornell Tech

Robin Jones

Deloitte Consulting LLP

Date Written: January 14, 2021

Abstract

Organizations’ workforce agendas no longer revolve solely around hired employees performing work along linear career paths. Workforces today comprise a range of internal and external parties including employees, contractors, gig workers, professional service providers, application developers, crowdsourced contributors, and others. Organizations recognize that they need to adopt an integrated approach to effectively manage an unintegrated workforce. However, significant challenges remain and best practices are scarce to address strategic and operational issues associated with workforces that span organizational boundaries. In this research, we define workforce ecosystems as structures that consist of interdependent actors, from within and outside the organization, which pursue both individual and collective goals. This article is based on a two-year research program comprising two global executive surveys and semi-structured interviews with corporate and military leaders and academic experts. We find that a workforce ecosystem approach can help organizations address shifts driven by technological, social, and economic forces. For instance, we recognize that more organizations are relying on nonemployees to accomplish strategic objectives; more work is becoming task- and project-based, and a growing number of executives are recognizing that a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce delivers better results. Organizations that adopt workforce ecosystems can take advantage of these shifts, and better align their work with their strategic goals and objectives.

Keywords: ecosystems, workforce, future of work, strategy

Suggested Citation

Altman, Elizabeth J. and Kiron, David and Schwartz, Jeff and Jones, Robin, The Future of Work is Through Workforce Ecosystems (January 14, 2021). Altman, E. J., Kiron, D., Schwartz, J., & Jones, R. 2021. The Future of Work is Through Workforce Ecosystems. MIT Sloan Management Review. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3801121

Elizabeth J. Altman (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts Lowell ( email )

1 University Ave
Lowell, MA 01854
United States

David Kiron

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Jeff Schwartz

Deloitte Consulting ( email )

1919 N Lynn Street
Arlington, VA 22209
United States
2022575869 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://deloitte.com

Cornell Tech ( email )

111 8th Avenue #302
New York, NY 10011
United States

Robin Jones

Deloitte Consulting LLP ( email )

1919 N Lynn Street
Arlington, VA 22209
United States

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