Complementary practices

Forget temps. There is a whole new way of working to make the most of staff.

Anybody just starting out in the world of work will already be well aware that the days of large corporations hiring hundreds of people a year and expecting to keep them for life have gone. What they are less likely to realise is that - in the continuing attempt to make the new working methods palatable - the terminology is changing.

According to research recently commissioned by Manpower, which claims to be the UK's leading employment specialist, the word "temp" is out - to be replaced by "complementary worker".

This band - apparently increasingly likely to be composed of men - refers to those people who are in a "non-permanent capacity with a host organisation". Corfield Wright, the employment consultancy that produced the just-published report, says that the old labels for this group - "for example, casual, temp or peripheral, no longer convey their important contribution to today's business performance". In many organisations, it adds, there is an "interdependent relationship between permanent and complementary workers which now delivers high-quality products and services".

The report, produced with the support of such organisations as BT, IBM, NatWest, Rank Xerox, American Express, the BBC, Boots, the Inland Revenue, and the Communications Workers and Banking Insurance and Finance unions, points out that - just as "temping" has replaced traditional working methods - so it has been supplanted in modern corporations by a myriad of other forms, such as temporary assignment, contracting, sub-contracting, consulting and outsourcing.

At the same time, the reasons for using such approaches are becoming more complex. Although reducing costs, rebalancing after downsizing and building strategic flexibility will continue to be factors behind the policy, the report argues that the primary driver will be the need to increase flexibility at the same time as raising quality and reducing costs. Success in balancing these often conflicting priorities will make the difference between gaining the competitive edge and losing market share, it says.

Accordingly, there is a "widespread willingness to pay for high-quality services for all kinds of work", with many employers recognising that strategic labour flexibility comes from a combination of two elements - higher-quality trained staff who can be deployed in a responsive way.

"It is this combination which produces cost-effective savings and generates increased revenues, not the rate paid to complementary workers," say the authors.

Their report comes as a survey by property consultants Nelson Bakewell indicates that more than 40 per cent of Britain's top 1,000 companies expect their property requirements to decrease over the next five years, largely because increasing numbers of people will operate from home.

While only a fifth of the companies surveyed said that home working had affected working practices during the past five years, nearly two-thirds of those who expect their property holdings to reduce or remain the same before the turn of the century cited home working, "office hoteling" or the technology that makes remote working possible as the major influences on a trend that could mean up to 25 per cent of the workforce in such companies working from home.

The survey "New Technology, New Working Practices and their effect on property occupation", provides an insight into the growing realisation of property's importance to the balance sheet. Having tried to relinquish as much property as possible by "downsizing", companies are looking at how to make their remaining holdings work most efficiently - and reduce their liabilities further.

Michael Hatt, director of Nelson Bakewell's corporate property services division, said: "UK companies are facing a revolution in working practices and their failure to recognise the property implications could cost them dearly."

Meanwhile, Iain Herbertson, director of Manpower, said the Corfield Wright report was "a useful addition to the debate concerning contract or complementary workers. It reveals that those employers who quite naturally keep an eye on costs but give proper weight to training and quality do much better than those who keep an eye on costs alone. Quite simply, choosing the cheapest possible option very often gets you lower-calibre people."

And his view that the research shows that this sort of working - whatever it is called - is here to stay fits in with the beliefs of the companies surveyed by Nelson Bakewell. These were confident that the Internet alone, for example, would have a significant impact on their methods of working in coming years.

Indeed, there is so much change going on that graduates setting out on careers in business should not get too used to the term complementary workers. Coming years are likely to see many modifications of working practices - though a return to anything like the traditional structures is improbable.

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

KS1 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

C# R&D .NET Developer (Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET)

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NET Developer (Algori...

Year 3 Teacher needed- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Look no further; this is the ...

Primary NQT Teachers

£95 - £105 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Opportunities for NQTs for the...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star