Future Friday: Will the Gig economy change the way we work internally?

Can we handle internal work like we handle freelance work?

In a brief video, Rawn Shah, Director of Rising Edge, an independent consultancy focusing on work culture, collaboration, management models, and the future of work, suggested a different view of how we view work. He said that we should not view ourselves as having one job, or even a series of jobs, rather we should see ourselves as having many jobs at one time. Most of us do. I am a consultant, writer, speaker, and teacher. This gives me versatility and keeps me interested in what I do day in and day out. Many of you are the same way. This got me thinking about the world of work and how our workplaces might be altered, for the better, by using a gig economy model.

The gig model

In the world today there are many websites that allow people to offer their services or to offer small jobs. Sites like TaskRabbit, UpWork (which used to be ODesk), or Fiverr allow businesses to connect with freelance labor by posting a description of the work and then having the freelancer bid on the work. More and more work is being done in this manner. But not all employers are comfortable in hiring freelance labor, especially if the work is the basic work of the company. In fact the IRS and USDOL rules prohibit employers from using contractors to perform that type of work. What if there was a way to apply that model with your existing employees?

Gigs at the office

The way work is currently structured at most businesses is we have workers who are assigned to a particular job. It is in their job description that they have to do certain aspects of their job, day after day. They get good at, which is an advantage for the company, but they also get bored with it, eventually reducing performance and perhaps even causing turnover. What about broadening this system and offering work to these employees on a “gig” basis. Rather than having the boss assign work, the boss could announce that these jobs need to be performed in a certain time frame and have employees “bid” on the chance to do that work.
The bidder may be interested in that job because it would build out their resume, or they might be interested because it is something they have never done and it would give them a challenge, or they just might find it interesting to do. It would be advantageous to the company because of the cross-training that would occur and it would be advantageous to the employee because it would offer them new skills and more variety in their daily work. You might even be able to tie this into a bonus program so it would enhance their income as well.

The hyper-generalist in the millennial age

In a time when employees move on from their current jobs in about three years due to lack of challenge and a lack of skill improvement, this might be a way to retain younger workers who are looking for variety and challenge in their work. You might be able to keep them several more years and increase their productivity.
Think about this gig model and see if it would work for aspects of your business. Rather than having a group of specialists businesses might be able to expand to groups of hyper-generalists that take on a wide variety of tasks.

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