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On one hand, an economy that tends toward deregulation, with companies playing on a global game board. On the other hand, organizations ready to classify and partition their human resources within rigid, hermetic structures.

This is the duality outlined, as a paradox, by authors David Sun and Alex Kass in an article published in the Accenture Technology Lab as a defense of the concept of “virtualization of the workforce”.

Both mention the need of today’s companies to adapt how they work to the market, and to do so they argue we should break down silos and traditional structures, within and without the company.

In the context of a global, ultra-connected era marked by digital development, they mention the opportunities for organizations to reach beyond their borders and collaborate with other stakeholders like suppliers, shareholders or even clients.

They also call for organizations to break up their own foundations, with transversal and multifunctional teams, in constant change and evolution. In short, they argue the necessity of not conceiving the human capital a company has at its disposal–be it its own or external–as pieces that can fill only one slot.

In this light, they argue organizations should choose flat structures with horizontal collaboration models; and virtualize the space where people meet and collaborate.

Ultimately, the idea is to go from a structure based on hierarchy to one based on netarchy.

With this purpose in mind, they highlight the importance of mechanisms like crowdsourcing, which allows organizations to become stronger and more flexible as they unite elements and people of different origins to solve a specific challenge or problem.

Among the benefits of this model is greater operational agility, having access to diverse profiles and expertise, and greater collaboration between teams, as well as more engagement from its members.

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Benefits of the use of ‘open models’ for a company and its employees / Graphic: Accenture.

As the authors point out, a traditional company structure is based on hierarchy, departmental separation and centralization, which serve as stabilizing elements for the organization. This is a model the authors consider outdated in a digital era that changes at great speed and requires constant adaptation through malleable, flexible structures.

It also requires a degree of openness that the company itself can configure through crowdsourcing, restricting participation in processes of this kind to only certain employees, or extending participation to other collectives surrounding the organization.

Supervised freedom to expand companies’ scope of action in the digital era and make collaboration flow between their different stakeholders.

bullet Find out how to implement crowdsourcing processes in your organization.