Bill Hethcock of the Dallas Business Journal and I recently talked about the start of Working Solutions, one of the first virtual workforce businesses in America. The company went “gig” a couple of years before Google was even founded.
Back in 1996, the World Wide Web, still in its infancy for business, began expanding the traditional workday and workplace.
With the internet came newfound freedom and flexibility, enabling companies to tap into freelance talent in America and throughout the world. As boundaries disappeared, opportunities for remote work multiplied.
Using customer service agents from the U.S. and Canada, Working Solutions’ on-demand model for contact center outsourcing scaled to whatever clients desired. Serving many industries, agents were available whenever the need arose, providing fast-flex solutions for more fluid operations.
No more were business process services confined to brick-and-mortar call centers, restricted by ZIP codes. Virtual operations, with access to on-demand contact center agents, were truly 24/7/365 anywhere.
A forerunner of the gig economy, Working Solutions’ business model also foreshadowed large-scale changes that occurred in Corporate America. Nationwide, pressure to streamline operations brought about wave after wave of layoffs of traditional workforces. Those reductions put a lot of talent on the street.
As today’s economy booms, many entrepreneurially minded workers choose to make a living as independent contractors. Hence, the rise of what Accenture calls the “liquid workforce.” Digital nomads who contract to fulfill current demand—and are always willing and able to move on to more challenging or lucrative engagements.
For contact center outsourcing, the on-demand model attracts select resources, serving the specific needs of clients and their customers. Equipped with exact skills, it’s a workforce created in a client’s own image. Hand-picked agents become an extension of the brand.
What’s more, such a workforce fluctuates with market cycles and seasonal demands. It also adapts well to unforeseen situations, ensuring business continuity during business spikes and emergencies, such as blizzards or hurricanes. Its fluidity facilitates the way that businesses and consumers work and live today. On demand.
Now, did I see this all coming more than 20 years ago when starting Working Solutions? No. Clairvoyant I’m not.
But you don’t have to be psychic to be far-sighted in business. Just keep your eyes open. Follow your instincts. Surround yourself with great people. And be sure to include a lot of common sense in any good business plan.
To read the entire interview with Bill, please go to “How Kim Houlne built a work-from-home army.”