Top 5 Ways Crowdsourcing is Transforming the Workplace

Here are five top ways crowdsourcing is transforming the workplace, and it continues with workplace transformation examples from Europe and North America.
Main image for a Crowdsourcing Week article on the top 5 ways crowdsourcing is transforming the workplace

Written by Clive Reffell

Feb 7, 2024

Crowdsourcing is having an ever-increasing impact on businesses. That’s whether an established company is integrating crowdsourcing into its processes, often through accessing collective intelligence, or a new business is based from the outset on crowdsourcing principles. This CSW blog begins with identifying five top ways crowdsourcing is transforming the workplace, and continues with ten workplace transformation examples in Europe and North America.

Benefits of crowdsourcing in the workplace

1. Access to a Global Talent Pool

Traditional hiring methods often limit you to a local or national talent pool. Crowdsourcing platforms open doors to a vast global network of skilled individuals, enabling you to find the perfect person for the job regardless of location. This expands your possibilities and access to specialized expertise you might not find locally.

2. Enhanced Innovation and Creativity

Crowdsourcing fosters a collaborative environment where diverse perspectives and ideas can come together. By tapping into the collective intelligence of a global crowd, you can generate highly innovative solutions to problems, develop creative marketing campaigns, or even invent new products or services.

3. Increased Scalability and Speed

Tasks can be easily segmented and distributed among a large pool of workers on a crowdsourcing platform. This allows you to scale your workforce up or down rapidly based on project needs, leading to faster completion times and increased agility in responding to changing market demands.

4. Improved Customer Engagement and Feedback

Leveraging crowdsourcing in the workplace for tasks like market research, product testing, or even customer service can provide valuable insights and feedback directly from your target audience. This real-time input of collective intelligence can help you refine your products or services, tailor your offerings to specific needs, and build stronger relationships with your customers.

5. Cost-Effective Expertise

Hiring in-house for specific tasks can be expensive, especially for short-term needs. Crowdsourcing platforms offer access to freelance professionals at competitive rates, allowing you to engage their expertise without the overhead costs of full-time employment. This is ideal for tasks like design, writing, data analysis, or even research and development.

Here are three additional benefits of crowdsourcing in the workplace.

Reduced risk and improved quality. With access to a wider pool of talent it’s possible to reduce the risk of hiring the wrong person for the job. Platforms often have built-in reputation systems that help ensure quality work.

Increased employee engagement. Crowdsourcing can offer new opportunities for existing employees to contribute their skills and ideas beyond their regular roles, leading to increased engagement and job satisfaction.

Improved workplace flexibility. Crowdsourcing allows for more flexible work arrangements, which can benefit both employers and employees, especially in today’s remote-work landscape.

While there are certainly challenges associated with crowdsourcing, such as managing diverse teams, quality control, and intellectual property concerns, the overall benefits for workplace innovation, efficiency, and talent access are undeniable. As technology and platforms continue to evolve, we can expect crowdsourcing to play an even bigger role in shaping the future of work.

Notable examples transforming the workplace in Europe

Here are four examples in Europe of prominent businesses that have transformed their workplaces/work processes through using crowdsourcing.

LEGO IDEAS (Denmark)

This platform allows fans to submit their original Lego set designs, which are then voted on by the community. If a design reaches 10,000 votes, it gets reviewed by LEGO and potentially released as a commercial product. This crowdsourcing approach has not only generated innovative new sets like the NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander, but also fostered a deep connection and brand loyalty among LEGO enthusiasts. 

Innocent Drinks (UK)

This smoothie company uses crowdsourcing not just for product ideas, but also for marketing campaigns. Their “Big Knit” initiative, where people knit cozy hats for Innocent smoothie bottles, is a prime example. This campaign not only generated substantial brand awareness and sales, but also raised money for charity. Involving customers as individuals through crowdsourcing activities helps to humanise a brand.

Deliveroo (UK)

This food delivery platform leverages crowdsourcing to recruit its delivery riders. This allows them to scale their workforce rapidly and adapt to fluctuating demand, while also offering flexible work opportunities for individuals. Deliveroo also uses internal crowdsourcing platforms to gather employee feedback and ideas for improving operations.

Siemens (Germany)

This industrial giant has embraced crowdsourcing for problem-solving and innovation. Their “MindSphere Open Challenge” platform invites developers worldwide to tackle specific technical challenges faced by Siemens. This approach has led to the development of creative solutions and even new business opportunities.

These are just a few examples of how European companies are leveraging the power of crowdsourcing in their transformation of the workplace. By tapping into the collective intelligence and skills of their customers, employees, and the broader online community, these companies are achieving increased innovation, efficiency, and brand engagement.

Workplace transformation examples in North America

Zappos (USA)

This online shoe retailer revolutionized its customer service by leveraging crowdsourcing. Their “Zappos Insights” platform allows employees to answer customer questions and resolve issues collaboratively, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and problem-solving. This approach has boosted both customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

Netflix (USA)

The streaming giant uses crowdsourcing for more than just movie recommendations. Their “Open Source Software (OSS)” initiative invites external developers to contribute code to improve their platform, leading to faster development and innovation. This open-source approach is transforming the workplace, and also benefits the broader software community by attracting top talent.

Shopify (Canada)

This e-commerce platform empowers its merchants through crowdsourcing. Their “App Store” features thousands of apps and plugins developed by independent creators, offering merchants a vast selection of tools to customize their online stores. This ecosystem benefits everyone: merchants gain flexibility, Shopify attracts developers, and users have access to diverse solutions.

Vox Media (USA)

This digital media company utilizes a network of freelance writers and editors for producing content for their various websites and publications. While they still have core editorial staff, this crowdsourcing approach allows them to cover a wider range of topics and perspectives without maintaining a larger in-house team.

General Motors (USA)

This automotive giant embraced crowdsourcing for design. Their “Chevrolet Volt Open Source Innovation” challenge invited the public to submit ideas for improving the electric car. This led to valuable community feedback and even the inspiration for future features, demonstrating the power of open innovation.

Chrysler's GM Volt incorporates features identified and suggested through crowdsourcing, and it is one of the article's workplace transformation examples

The GM Volt includes crowdsourced features

General Electric (USA)

Like Siemens in Europe, GE uses crowdsourcing platforms for problem-solving and innovation. Their “GE Fuse” platform invites engineers and scientists worldwide to collaborate on technical challenges faced by the company. Their collective intelligence can potentially reduce reliance on internal R&D teams for specific projects, impacting staffing needs in those areas.

Key takeaways of transforming the workplace

These workplace transformation examples in European and North American companies that are using crowdsourcing showcase that it’s not just for cost-cutting or niche tasks, but to drive innovation, engage with their communities, and build stronger relationships with stakeholders.

Ideas no longer come exclusively from in-house employees. R&D teams can vet more ideas than they would have created by themselves. Using crowdsourcing for various aspects of a company’s tasks can reduce the number of employees needed, whilst giving opportunities to a growing network of freelancers. They can apply a greater diversity of perspectives to a company’s business.

Crowdsourcing has become a powerful tool for transforming the workplace in today’s dynamic business landscape.

About Author

About Author

Clive Reffell

Clive has worked with Crowdsourcing Week on sourcing and creating content since May 2016. With knowledge and experience gained in a 30+ year marketing career based in London, UK, he operates as an independent crowdfunding advisor helping SMEs and startups to run successful crowdfunding projects, and with wider social media and content marketing issues.

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