Making the most of the ‘gig economy’

The concept of the ‘gig economy’ has attracted a lot of attention in recent years, with plenty of debate around its benefits, its drawbacks and what it could mean for the future of business and employment.

So just how significant is this trend, and could it play a key role in shaping how we work and how companies operate in the years to come?

Just how significant is the gig economy?

The gig economy – a labour market model based on people doing short-term, contract-based or freelance work with various employers, rather than having permanent jobs – is already having a big impact in the UK.

According to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), nearly half (46 per cent) of HR professionals expect at least 20 per cent of their workforce to be composed of contractors or temporary workers by 2020.

Nearly one in three firms (31 per cent) said they were arranging their future talent strategy around the growth of the ‘portfolio career’, placing an emphasis on hiring a diverse range of people on an ad-hoc basis.

Jon Andrews, head of PwC’s global people and organisation practice, said: “The world of work is changing. Contract work is in many cases trumping full-time, permanent roles for people due to the flexibility, autonomy and control it offers. People are increasingly using the technology of the connected work market to dictate where and when they work, and for whom.”

Bond, the company that provides the AdaptUX recruitment and staffing software system, has described the gig economy as a “social, cultural and business evolution in attitudes towards permanent, fixed employment, in favour of more flexible and temporary staffing arrangements”.

What does it mean for businesses and workers?

On a broad scale, the emergence of the gig economy is indicative of the growing importance of flexibility and diversity in how individuals work and how businesses operate.

With temporary jobs and contract-based work becoming increasingly common, it’s possible that we could also see organisations moving away from the traditional model of 9-to-5, office-based working and towards a more agile approach.

Particularly for smaller firms, there are benefits to be gained from using dynamic, flexible teams of gig workers and, rather than committing to long-term office leases, hiring workspace on a short-term basis as and when it is needed.

There have been concerns raised about some of the disadvantages of the gig economy, such as the risk of reduced rights for workers and exploitation by unscrupulous employers.
It is therefore down to businesses to ensure they are using freelancers, contract-based workers and temporary staff in an ethical, responsible manner.

Bond pointed out that employers can achieve many benefits if they approach the gig economy in the right way, not only through lower costs and greater efficiency but in terms of their reputation and appeal to workers.

The software provider said the gig economy is “influencing employers’ attitudes towards the needs of their employees”.

It added: “Companies are now more likely to offer their employees flexible working schemes, as well as allow their employees to work from home and those that don’t are viewed as having an outdated workplace environment.”


Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock/Ridofranz

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