In short, not much.
However, there are hints that contract staffing, including data staffing. could continue to grow as a critical strategic choice for many companies.
After 6+ months of pandemic related chaos, there has been a substantial amount of reflection on how various industries have been affected thus far, as well as prognoses for the future. (See also: our recent blog post “Will Covid Break Data Science?”)
Across the board, companies and their employees continue to suffer due to projects being scrapped, or uncertainty about their projects being renewed. Behind the scenes in all of this are the multitudes of contracted programmers, developers, and analysts as well as the companies that are responsible for finding and keeping these workers – that is to say, the staffing industry. How have recent events impacted this sector?
We were speaking with a new client earlier this week. This company is a large player in the foodservice industry, serving restaurants, schools, and other types of organizations. Based on their forecasts they had planned to hire a number of folks to their analytics staff this year. However, the virus has forced them to rethink their plans. While their sales volumes are down, they still need help and are forecasting improving business conditions going forward. However, they don\’t want to rely solely on those forecasts. Therefore, rather than hiring people, they are contracting them from us using terms that allow them to 1) hire them as the economy improves, or 2) release them quickly if the economy suddenly takes another dive. In other words, they\’re starting with activity forecasts but are then manually adjusting them and modifying business processes to accommodate the possibility that they\’re way off. Rather than being tied to the forecasts, they\’re giving themselves the room to react quickly if need be.
An overall strategy of caution and safety has also resulted in more consultants being permitted (or mandated) to work from home – even for clients who in the past were insistent that they needed everyone on site. This flexibility gives companies who are looking for (potentially) short-term contractors access to a much wider range of options, and they can narrow in on finding the person who is right for the job as opposed to having other variables (such as location, willingness to relocate, etc.) take precedence. This speeds up the process both of finding a new contractor, as well as dramatically shortening the amount of time between job offer and start date.
Given that change has been the only constant over the past few months, many businesses do not feel like they are any closer to having definitive answers about how they should prepare for the future. Therefore, a strategy of adaptability seems like the smart course of action for the time being – a strategy that plays well with the flexibility that contract data science staffing provides.