A New World of Work

ThinkstockPhotos-179212730Throughout this series, we have explored and sought to encapsulate how the gig economy is defining the way in which we work today. The rise of online and on-demand marketplaces has led to a new way of working which is only gaining further momentum. This increased access to talent has allowed a generation of new specialists, loosely termed millennials, to share their expertise in a global marketplace with an immediacy that was previously unheard of.

This evolution of the staffing sector is indicative of a brave new world in which working practices can be more fluid and flexible than ever before. The gig economy, with its unprecedented disruption of the modern workplace, will soon dominate the staffing landscape. It has enabled businesses to weather skills shortages, reduce overhead costs and operate more effectively and with greater flexibility, allowing them to fill gaps that traditional recruitment strategies cannot fill.

There are different types of gigs, ranging from as little as a few hours to many months and varying between familiar locations and unknown territories. However, regardless of the duration or location of a gig, it is imperative that businesses implement solid procedures to manage this workforce both effectively and safely in order to mitigate the risks of deemed employment or worker misclassification. This is not as straightforward as it may seem and the risk of deemed employment grows with a business’s increasing interaction with a gig worker.

Whether not yet involved with gig assignments or already engaging with gig workers, systematically or purely on an opportunistic basis, a clear strategy must be in place to capitalize on the benefits of the gig economy while mitigating their associated risks. In this new era of working, strategizing to accommodate gig workers within your organization is not a business choice but a business requirement in order to avoid being outmaneuvered by competitors. Positioning your business to take advantage, successfully and compliantly, of these opportunities as and when they arise, yet remaining strategically focused on your longer-term staffing goals, will ensure that you can make the gig economy work for your organization.

Finally, the staffing industry must consider how it can accommodate what will arguably be the most demanding and the most flexible workforce in modern history. At present governments and the industry are being somewhat sluggish in providing robust regulatory and legislative support (some may not even have recognized the need) to protect these workers. Worker misclassification and deemed employment are growing issues across a wide range of sectors, with a number of high-profile cases gaining a great deal of attention from mainstream media outlets. It may fall upon each sector to self-regulate, however, this is unlikely to happen quickly. In order to avoid the real possibility of ill-considered and inappropriate legislation in response to real or perceived abuse of gig workers, the staffing industry (as well as end user companies in all sectors) must develop strong and coherent in-house strategies which reconcile the requirements and rights of both gig workers and end users alike.

This new world of work will not vanish any time soon and, either actively or passively, all industry sectors must learn to live with it. It is now up to businesses and their supply chains to navigate this evolving staffing landscape and to develop the best practices that will ultimately become the standard for a brand new way of working.

Matt Walters

Matt Walters
Matt Walters specializes in labor leasing matters at European labor leasing expert Capital GES.

Matt Walters

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