In the midst of a tech talent shortage, CTOs are struggling to recruit full-time staff and finding freelancers expensive and time-consuming to find. A better answer lies in a new idea: Elastic Teams.

Digital transformation has turned every company into a technology company. Whether you are automating an accounts process, connecting factories with Internet of Things sensors or just selling products online, your business is dependent on technology.

And while much of this technology can be supplied by a third party ‘as a service’, you still need technology talent to ensure that different systems are connected, legacy systems are managed, bespoke tools get built, and, crucially, that the whole stack is kept secure.

And that’s where the problem arises.

There isn’t enough technology talent to go around. Every business is now competing with the big technology firms, which are on a recruiting drive. Amazon, for example, is hiring more than 55,000 people for corporate and technology roles, Facebook’s parent company Meta is hiring 10,000 people in Europe to work on its ‘Metaverse’, and Google has hired more than 6,500 people, the majority in technology roles, in the fourth quarter of 2021 alone.

It’s no surprise then, that tech talent is scarce and expensive. Germany expects to need 780,000 additional technology specialists by 2026, while job search engine Adzuna says it has had 100,000 tech vacancies posted on its website every week for the last year.

Companies can’t solve the problem by training more staff and the recruitment war is unwinnable. A rethink is required and the solution could be a concept known as ‘elastic teams’.

Why you won’t win the talent war

We need a rethink because very few companies can offer a package attractive enough to keep the top talent happy.

Amazon, Facebook and Google have the advantage of huge cash reserves and a name that looks great on any tech CV but even they are struggling to hold onto the best people. In a recent survey, less than half of Google staffers said their compensation was good compared with what they would get elsewhere.

The reality might be that no offer of permanent employment is good enough. 

A developer’s average tenure is between 14 and 18 months. Some adopt a gig mentality, signing on for one project and then, when it’s complete, looking elsewhere for the next challenge. Others are unofficial freelancers, aware that they are so in demand that they can flit between roles at will.

These days the hiring process seems to be more about talent interviewing the business, rather than the other way round.

The best technology workers are looking for more than just money. They want to develop their skills, grow in their career, and take on challenging problems.

Many are looking for variety, independence, and freedom. Taking these people on as permanent staff brings an additional overhead from trying to keep them engaged and can leave you dealing with the negative morale that can result from the departure of two or three top talents.

The need for a new solution

If recruiting more staff is not an option, then what else can a Chief Technology Officer do to manage the skills shortage?

An obvious solution is to upskill current staff to fill the vacancies. This isn’t without problems. First, given the competition, this approach is a constant race against time to get more staff to a productive level before the current top talents are poached by another company. Second, it won’t help in the short term because people need experience as well as training to reach their best.

A CTO could use agency staff to fill the gaps, but this is costly. Recruiting individual freelancers isn’t much cheaper and has the added drawback of being time-consuming. And neither option brings in loyal workers. But if you don’t fill the gaps somehow then you will have to delay deliverables, which is not good commercially or strategically. Is there another option?

There is: that’s where elastic teams come in. Organisations like Distributed use their contacts with the best talents to create a Private Talent Cloud. Companies can draw on this expertise as they need it, creating a team of whatever size and composition is right for the job. This is the ‘elastic’ aspect – if you need to add people to your team then it can be done right away.

Stretching your capabilities with an Elastic Team

The immediate scalability is just one of the benefits of this approach.

Elastic Teams and Private Talent Clouds allow any enterprise organisation access to the best talent from anywhere in the world. Most organisations are restricted to being able to recruit talent from within a commutable range of their office. This isn’t an issue for Private Talent Clouds. Even companies in one of the world’s major cities cannot be certain that the ideal talent will be found within their postcode.

Access to a Private Talent Cloud means getting the benefits of the best freelancers without having to find, hire, and manage them yourself. Instead, you get managed outcomes and a single point of contact from your supplier. They will ensure that everything is kept secure and that the project stays within scope and on-deadline.

However, unlike a typical agency, you won’t find yourself working with people simply because they are available and on the agency’s books. Nor, for that matter, will you have to find a role for your own staff, simply because they are on the payroll. Overall, there is much more flexibility.

An Elastic Team solves all the problems of the technology talent war in a way that allows CTOs to reach their goals. The skills shortage will not end anytime soon, so this is a far better strategy than trying to win the war for talent yourself. Instead, get others to do the heavy lifting for you and engage with the right organisation to find the best talent and manage the whole process.

Find out more about Elastic Teams and how they help your business, watch our on-demand webinar, “Accessing digital talent for your competitive advantage”

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