Saturday 16 January 2016

Human Cloud

The “human cloud” is a term that describes the growing number of workers offering their skills for short-term contracts online, which could impact both on how construction companies recruit and the offices they work in and build.

Contract work has long been a feature of the management and supervisory section of the industry, individuals have often viewed it as a temporary response to unfavourable economic conditions and a hiatus between permanent salaried jobs.

However, many white-collar workers are now choosing to opt out of salaried positions and pursue employment on a contract by contract basis, something that Jason Farnell, a director of CR Management, has identified as a growing trend.

“Gone is the idea that you work for one company for 40 years. Now it is about the ‘individual PLC’,” he says. “Main contractors will become much more light on their feet as each year we see more people moving to contract work and not thinking much beyond that contract.”

Farnell predicts that contractors will be employing fewer and fewer white-collar workers directly, as the best project and site managers choose to futureproof themselves by deliberately working on a variety of projects to gain experience. And it is the internet that is enabling this.

“Employees are going experience shopping. The internet gives people the opportunity to track upcoming projects and directly engage with employers,” says Farnell.

Guy Standing, professor of development studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and author of A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens, agrees that cloud labour will lead to “more very short contracts and flexible, insecure working arrangements”.

He adds: “The growth of platform companies acting as labour brokers means that middle management in construction companies will shrink even further. But cloud labour will affect backroom operations most of all.”

Extracted from:, (2016). Construction Manager - Agenda. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Jan. 2016].