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Interim Contract Staffing - The Need for a Flex Workforce in the Post Covid-19 Work Environment

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“With the recent pandemic the world and the furniture verticals has really changed. Prior to Covid-19 many Furniture companies found themselves understaffed with unemployment levels at 3.5% which is nearly full employment. Everyone was scrambling to staff their stores in one of the most fiercely competitive employment markets in decades.

None of us would have ever imagined how quickly the employment market would change in such a rapid and dramatic way. Within a span of two months we saw April Unemployment levels jump from 3.5% in February to 14.7% nationally.” said, Bill O’Malley, President of Connector Team.

As we emerged from the pandemic and COVID-19, we heard from our clients that they need to hire fast for highly skilled positions. They also are concerned with adding permanent hires during these uncertain times. 

One solution for this could be the Interim Contract Staffing model. Interim Contract staffing is an extension of the growing Freelance market also referred to as the Independent professionals’ economy. According to a report by Forbes as of 2019, 35% of U.S. workers are now freelancing. The total number of freelancers in the U.S. has increased to 57 million, up by 4 million since 2014. By many estimates the independent flex workforce will make up 50% of the full-time workforce by 2030.

Here are some recent examples where we have assisted our clients to improve key areas of their business. 

Situation #1 - We had a client request a contractor to enhance and improve their E-Commerce platform including their Web page design and enhance the User Experience.  This request came pre-Covid-19 and allowed the company  to implement design changes that took a barely functioning web page to a viable sales channel during the shutdown.

Situation #2 – Client requested a skilled Furniture General Manager to come on site and take over a recent acquisition. They needed someone to stabilize the business, evaluate the operation including merchandising while they positioned the business for an eventual sale. Over the course of the next year the candidate became a permanent employee.  This executive subsequently purchased the company which turned out to be a win-win for both parties.

Having a contractor on hand with a knowledge base in functional areas allows a company to quickly scale up on a project without taking on an additional permanent employee.  Manufacturing environments also represent examples of where skilled contract hires can provide a valuable injection of  talent into the plant or marketing operations. 

Over the shut-down period I was able to listen to podcasts and speak to many of my clients. Many of our industry leaders talked about the lasting impact that Covid-19 would have on the old  Furniture store sales model. CEO’s and consultants pointed to more in-home appointments due to social distancing.  This is being driven by a consumer that is reluctant to enter a crowded store for a big sale now or in the future. The idea of multiple furniture markets and conventions will also be determined only at a later date as we see the full effects of Covid-19 later this year.

None of us can predict the future but there is nearly universal agreement that there has been a big shift which could be temporary or permanent.  Will small to mid-size furniture retailers accelerate  their focus on creating a functioning and viable e-commerce sales channel or will they wait for Amazon and Wayfair to continue to grow and capture market share.

Whenever there is dramatic change in market forces, technology and innovation will accelerate and the need for skilled workers will be in high demand.  Interim Contract Staffing represents another option for filling high skilled positions in the Furniture industry.


Bill O’Malley is the owner of Connector Team Recruiting www.connectorteamrecruiting.com headquartered in Charlottesville, VA.  Since 2012 Bill has been a thought leader in the furniture industry connecting and providing clients with a gateway and access to top talent. Connector Team is an affiliate office of MRINETWORK. Bill can be reached at his office in Charlottesville Virginia (434) 227-4330 | bill@connectorteamrecruiting.com

 

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