We’ve been witnessing a momentous change in the world of work. And it’s more than just the occasional Uber ride or outsourced IT project. The gig economy now has its foot firmly in the door of small and large businesses globally, and more all the time. And it’s not just the buyer side that is noticing.
Consider some results from Staffing Industry Analysts’ 2016 Temp Worker Survey report. The report was based on a survey of temporary workers that was implemented in conjunction with the 2015 Staffing Industry Analysts “Best Staffing Companies to Work For” competition.
The survey asked over 5,000 temporary workers if they were using online services to any degree for employment. Eight percent said they were currently earning at least some income from online staffing. And among those currently using online staffing services, the median reported share of income so earned was between 20% and 30%.
That usage may seem low, especially when compared to the 73% of respondents who are not yet familiar with online staffing services. But what is relevant is that staffing companies are just starting to be in competition with online services for temporary workers.
“You have to remember that that certain aspects of online staffing make it more convenient for the worker,” says Jon Osborne, VP strategic research at Staffing Industry Analysts. Depending on the assignment, you can work remote in your pajamas, do the task at night or at a time suitable to you. This world of work is all about worker convenience. And many believe, despite the low usage, that it’s only a matter of time before workers gravitate to these work arrangements in larger numbers.
Meanwhile, buyers of staffing services are starting to get serious about online staffing. According to data from the 2015 Contingent Buyers Survey: Trends in Online Staffing and FMS, the percent of large buyers (those with 1,000+ employees) using online staffing rose from 2% in 2013 to 4% in 2014 — to 12% in 2015. What has driven this usage is a combination of media coverage, online staffing providers’ self-promotion and word-of-mouth, among others.
The good news is that, broadly speaking, staffing firms are in the right place at the right time. Between 2005 and the end of 2015, all net gains in employment could be attributed to alternative work arrangements, according to Harvard’s Lawrence F. Katz and Princeton’s Alan B. Krueger. This includes temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract company workers, and independent contractors or freelancers.
But the exact forms of alternative work arrangements that will win in the next decade may be different than in the past. To learn more about what’s coming in this new world of work, come to SIA’s Collaboration in the Gig Economy conference on September 21st-22nd in Las Vegas. See you there.