The Way We Work

Few phrases in business come with such a strong connotation as “the management.” Traditionally perceived as change-resistant, higher-level employees reigning over lower-level employees, “the management” is a stodgy concept ripe for disruption.

And that’s exactly what is happening, according to oDesk CEO Gary Swart. In his guest post for Business Insider last week, Gary explored how the rapid growth and widespread adoption of online work is shifting the traditional organizational structure, rapidly making the concept of “the management” obsolete.

In fact, Gary predicts that in the future, we will all be managers.

There are two trends contributing to that scenario:

1) The first is that “entry-level employees are managing from the start, building teams of online workers to augment their own performance and accelerate their careers by allowing them to prove their management skills early on,” Gary wrote.
2) The second is that established managers are becoming “supermanagers,” able to accomplish much more by extending their abilities through an online team.

In this all-management future, everyone will have their own online team—one that they can carry with them from job to job, as an extension of themselves that becomes as valuable to employers as skill set and experience.

As a result of this shift, it will become more important for employees to set themselves apart as exceptional managers, Gary wrote. And because many team members will be online, exceptional managers will have an adapted management style that puts emphasis on:

  • Decision-making and influencing
  • Results-based execution
  • Communicating culture and keeping people engaged

For more exploration of why those skills will be important in the all-management future, and where we are in this trend’s adoption, check out the original Business Insider post here.

When reading Gary’s article, I couldn’t help but think about how we are already seeing that trend emerge on oDesk. I have heard countless stories of clients who have hired an exceptional contractor—usually early on in their oDesk hiring experience—and ended up building an entire team around that person, with the original contractor acting as the project manager. That manager is often responsible not just for managing the day-to-day progress of the team, but often for hiring new team members and keeping the operation running smoothly.

Consequently, not only are we seeing online project management skills becoming critical for in-house employees, we are also seeing project management become a high-demand skill on oDesk itself.

Gary’s article also chronicles this secondary trend, finding that the number of hours worked in the ‘project management’ category on oDesk grew from essentially zero hours in May 2009 to more than 17,600 hours in May 2012.

Have you witnessed this increased demand for online project management skills? Do you agree that we will all be managers in the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Jenna Weiner

Content Marketer

Jenna Weiner is the former content marketing manager at oDesk and was the editor-in-chief of the oDesk blog. With a background in business and technology writing, she specializes in content marketing and strategy, public relations, and branding. Before joining oDesk, Jenna was a writer and editor for Monitor Group’s marketing department (now Monitor Deloitte) and was the Business & Technology Section Editor for Brafton Inc.… read more