The tech sector has been quietly undergoing a change in its dynamics that have slowly become apparent recently. This includes a shift in the demand and supply of both services and talent.

On the demand side, growing overlaps of the sector with other domains (fintech, edtech, MedTech to name a few) means that there is a surge in businesses’ need for services that can cater to these diverse applications.

On the supply side, innovations and new engineering and programming techniques mean that there is a pool of individuals with top-notch skills seeking work where they can apply themselves.

A recent example is that of MERN Stack developers. Research by Gaper, a company that builds teams of remote software engineers, showed that the demand for individuals skilled in MERN stack reached an all-time high in 2020 despite a global pandemic.

The company, quite ahead of its time in a way, was already hiring remote software engineers and helping businesses and startups augment their tech teams with the skill set their work required. Other companies that also helped bridge such demand-supply gaps included TopTal, Andela, and Turing.

Statistical Overview of the US Industry

Concerningly, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that there will be over 1 million CS jobs that will remain vacant in 2020, a gap that will only keep widening with time.

This is not helped by the fact that individuals graduating in this field is only 400,000 each year. This has as serious macroeconomic implications as it does at the firm level. Indeed, if this gap is not addressed, the country stands to miss out on over 1.5 billion dollars of output and sector growth.

Distributed Teams of Remote Engineers to Fill This Gap

How does one go about addressing this glaring state of disequilibrium in the market? Distributed teams.

Teams of remote software engineers and developers are not a new concept. Many companies had long-term and full-time teams of developers situated all over the world even before 2020.

Recruiting from a global pool of skilled individuals is a necessity at this point, one that cannot be demerited through any inflexible or rigid company policy.

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This does not necessarily mean that your firm has to go through the hassle of advertising, recruiting and managing these teams on your own. There are well reputed companies, mentioned above, that take care of these tasks for you.

Gaper, for example, hires teams of remote software engineers for US businesses and startups. They also provide a learning and career acceleration platform for individuals who require the necessary training to serve the company’s clients.

TopTal is known for a very thorough recruiting process which means individuals with a decent amount of experience and skill under their belt can make it on to their platform.

Andela, based in the US, has operational campuses in several African countries and acts as a talent accelerator for software developers. Turing, another well-known name in this domain, offers the top 1% of vetted engineers for hire who are then matched with appropriate clients using AI-powered systems.

Is This The Same As Freelancing?

Short answer – no.

Freelancing means that an individual is working with several clients at a time for a short period of time. Companies cannot feasibly operate with such employees.

The aforementioned firms all provide full-time software engineers on a long-term basis. They take care of any accounting, compliance or legal issues that accompany global recruitment.

This only serves to highlight how serious and vital such services are and will be. It is no longer a straightforward matter of posting a vacancy on local job boards. Remote work has cemented its place in the industry.

There is no doubt about the growth of freelancing. The gig economy is projected to contribute unprecedented levels of revenue over time. Estimates by Mastercard suggest that this figure can reach over $450 billion in the next three years.

For a one-off, short-term projects, these will be the go-to for the majority of the service-seekers. Freelancing, however, is not designed to serve companies looking for more long-term teams to work with.

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Distributed Teams vs. Outsourcing          

Finally, another question that might have many managers scratching their heads is the distinction between these distributed teams and outsourcing which is all too familiar to all of us.

To put it succinctly, outsourcing was largely about a high volume of short-term, relatively inexpensive labor in large numbers and getting them to work on short projects for other businesses.

Most people treated this work as a mere stepping stone to a more robust, well-paying, long-term work. This was the general business model of your typical outsourcing firm.

It should be evident now that distributed teams differ greatly from these. They are created to work with a client for a long period of time, and individuals recruited in these positions are full-time employees.

They work with their business partners in the same way that an office-based team would. There is work security for both the client and the remote employees.

Some like to refer to distributed teams as outsourcing 2.0, and while it makes sense to do so, distributed teams are much closer in nature to your normal office-based teams.

Takeaways

For businesses, one takeaway from this article should be the importance of being agile and flexible. If the financial and business environments call for it, be open to change and experimenting.

Do not be rigid about forcing outdated recruitment and working strategies when the world around you is changing.

For engineers and developers, know that the remote economy is incredibly competitive. You are among a global (literally) crowd of professionals who might have a lot more experience and skill than you do.

Keep learning and improving your skillset no matter what. This industry does not wait for anyone.

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