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Driving the future of work with workforce ecosystems

Organizations are increasingly composed of distributed, unintegrated, and diverse workforces. The workforce ecosystem approach can help leaders rethink how they align their business and workforce strategies.

Elizabeth J. Altman

Driving the future of work with workforce ecosystems


Gone are the days when companies’ workforce agendas revolved only around hired employees performing work along linear career paths. Today’s workforces comprise a range of internal and external players—employees, contractors, gig workers, professional service providers, application developers, crowdsourced contributors, and others.

Organizations realize that they need an integrated approach to effectively manage an unintegrated workforce. But they’re struggling. The fact that very few—if any—best practices exist to deal strategically and operationally with a workforce that spans organizational boundaries doesn’t help either.

One way forward for organizations: build a workforce ecosystem,which we define as a structure that consists of interdependent actors, from within the organization and beyond, working to pursue both individual and collective goals. Findings from our two-year research effort—comprising two global executive surveys and interviews with leaders and academic experts—indicate that a workforce ecosystem approach can help managers accomplish their organization’s strategic goals.

A workforce ecosystem approach can help companies address several macroshifts—driven by technological, social, and economic forces—that are changing how work gets done in the enterprise. For instance, more companies are relying on nonemployees to get more work done; 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. Companies that adopt workforce ecosystems can take advantage of these shifts, and better align work with strategy.

Download the PDF of the full article to understand the concept of a workforce ecosystem and how this approach can help address the challenges that come with these shifts. To learn more about how businesses can develop a flexible, adaptive, and higher-value workforce, read Opportunity marketplaces: Aligning workforce investment and value creation in the enterprise.

Human Capital–Future of Work

Driven by accelerating connectivity, new talent models, and cognitive technologies, the way that

work is done is changing. As robotics, AI, the gig economy, and crowds continue to grow, jobs and work are being reinvented, creating the “augmented workforce.” To achieve new levels of business

impact, we have the opportunity to reconsider how jobs and work are designed around integrated

teams of people and machines to adapt and learn for future growth. To learn more,


Learn more

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