With the rapid rise of technology and mobile networks, the way we work has dramatically changed. Many of us long time stalwarts in the tech sector would remember that at one point, most organizations had desktops everywhere. Only top management and a couple of key sales people had laptops. Eventually, that shifted to the point that we now see the majority of employees toting laptops.
Work now became available anywhere you had a network connection and power (if you needed to run the whole day). Today with the mobile and app revolution, work is becoming more piecemeal. The traditional job where you worked permanently with an employer has changed. Independent self-employed project workers were the first become such employees where you would contract yourself for a project at a time. With Uber, Grab, Freelancer.com and others today, the piece of work has gotten smaller but more numerous, hence the term gig. Of course the term gig was derived from the music industry where a “gig” was a performance, session or engagement. While generally most people associate gig economy with jobs like Uber or Grab or somewhat more entry level roles, Gigs today run the gamut of pay scales and skill sets.
You now have senior executives who travel to clients globally to provide their skills, knowledge and experience to the general workers who try to supplement (or is their entire income) their income by picking up ride-hailing fares in his or her community. One half of the economy is focused on the knowledge aspect – think of management consultants, trainers, data scientists or analytical experts while the other half is service focused – skilled tradespeople such as plumbers or electricians to ride-sharing and delivery. The common thread is the technology platforms that drive them. Without platforms like Grab, Uber, AirBnb, Freelancer.com and so on, the economy would be quite hard to thrive.
There are of course plenty of challenges and hurdles, both from the basic income perspective to the overall socio-economic agenda of the gig economy. Imaging a young person today in her early twenties and all she does is gigs everywhere. While traditional ownership of material assets like cars or homes are no longer prioritized today, there must be consideration paid to other overall aspects such as credit-worthiness of the individual, health-care and even retirement plans. It can be continuously argued on whose responsibility some of these elements belong to but for long-term gig economy to thrive, these issues need to be addressed. In fact, as I write this, some are being serviced. For example, there are simpler insurance plans, private retirement schemes now being provided by start-ups and traditional organizations alike.
On the flip side, organizations today also need to adapt to this changing workforce and needs – from both hiring, and deploying these gig workers in their workforce. Again, technologies are already available today but is organizational culture, HR practices, policies and processes mature or ready? In fact, there are many cases where utilization of gig workers have provided organizations with both cost and performance benefits.
While we still have many unanswered questions and solutions of many issues raised above are still far off, the gig economy is already here and it is inevitable that it will come to be another form of employment or career choice for many organizations and individuals. At Brandt, we’re continuously open to to part-time, contract and associates being part of our family.
For more information where you can be part of this Gig economy, visit the following links:
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