The Extended Workforce

Unlocking the potential of the extended workforce

  • Annrai O’Toole, Co-Founder and CEO of Utmost

When you attend any conference on HR, you will inevitably sit through a presentation entitled: “The Future of Work”. These are normally interesting, insightful and thought-provoking and they also tend to ignore the elephant in the room: “contingent” workers. These are the silent part of the workforce that no-one wants to talk about: These are the contractors, freelancers, temporary or project-based workers who regularly account for 20-40% of a large organization's workforce. These are the people who participate in every aspect of business life: from filling in when a doctor goes sick, to the geologists who map out physical resources to the workers who build cars.

The term “contingent” itself is a pejorative term - it implies that the worker is easily changed; that their role is conditional. It is not a term that conveys the centrality of these workers to the current labour market. The Staffing Industry Analysts estimate of $4.5 trillion spend on this workforce in 2018 tells us that these workers are anything but contingent!

For a start, let’s use the right words; these workers are the “extended” workforce.

Utmost was established to change the conversation about this critical part of the workforce. We believe that the extended workforce is vital and important and that there is a long term secular trend towards engaging the extended workers. This trend will continue to pose difficult questions to organisations in terms of how they manage and engage with this workforce. We also believe that there will also be impacts to society and workers themselves. However, we believe this is not a zero-sum game: it is possible to improve the effectiveness of how a large organization interacts with its extended workforce whilst simultaneously improving the experience for the worker themselves.

Utmost’s vision is where the enterprise’s extended workforce, from temporary workers to consultants to contractors and more, all have a simple solution to engage with one another to complete work more productively without the hassles and inefficiencies that legacy software offers. Crucially, we have designed for staffing agencies and other suppliers who are key elements of the supply chain. We also envision a world where workers have control of their data and agency over their careers and livelihoods independent of traditional employment relationships.

The Team

Utmost was founded in August 2018 by myself (Annrai O’Toole, former CTO - EMEA at Workday); Dan Beck, previously SVP Platform Technology at Workday; and Paddy Benson, former CTO EMEA at Groupon. We are lucky to be joined in our endeavor by a group of fantastic colleagues. We are also privileged and delighted to announce the support not only of our long-standing partner in company building, Greylock, but also by the company who started the revolution in this area of enterprise software - Workday. Our Board includes Mike Stankey, Vice Chairman at Workday, as well as Sarah Guo and Saam Motamedi from Greylock Partners.

We are all committed to making a difference. We want to tell a new and exciting story -- the story of the extended workforce.