As the Gig Economy Creeps, The Human Cloud Grows

In recent years, news feeds have been bulging with articles defining the future of work and anticipating an “imminent” shift to a gig economy. One might already expect to see an Uber sticker prominently displayed on your windshield.

But there’s no need to go all-in on the monthly car wash passes just yet. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ (BLS) latest research, the makeup of the labor market hasn’t really changed since 2005. In fact, it looks a lot like it did back in 1995.

If you feel confused by the apparent contraction, you aren’t alone. Certainly, there’s been a significant rise in the number of human cloud companies brokering work in the online marketplace. The human cloud is a sub-segment of the gig economy, and includes firms that match workers to work through an online/digital platform.

But the wide acceptance of these technologies may have more to do with innovating the way work and workforces are organized, rather than a response to a surge of gig workers overtaking the economy.

Online labor marketplaces are changing the way organizations connect with workers, and this is putting increased pressure on traditional staffing firms to innovate and provide higher value to their client base.

PREMIUM CONTENT: The global gig economy, 2018

Many staffing firms are now looking to highly-configurable automation technologies, such as scheduling automation software, to offer clients the agility of a human cloud environment coupled with the emotional intelligence of a staffing firm. Here are five criteria modern workers expect to engage in work, and how scheduling automation can help staffing firms address each of them:

  • Instant access to work opportunities. Scheduling automation makes it easier for workers to view open shifts, pick-up new shifts, trade shifts, or join standby/sign up lists.
  • More control over work schedules. Automated scheduling allows workers to influence their work schedule, but it also eases the scheduling burdens of recruiters.
  • Quick access to information. Providing workers with up-to-date scheduling information is critical to avoid no-shows and tardiness, and ensure workers are prepared and ready to work.
  • Mobile access 24/7. Mobile-friendly access is expected by workers to view shift information, pick-up extra shifts, or request time off. Mobile access gives workers more autonomy over their lives, which in turn improves worker satisfaction and increases worker retention.
  • Real-time communication. Mobile-friendly applications also provide workers with options to automatically receive text or email notifications and give candidates the information they need when they need it.

A robust workforce scheduling solution offers a clear, strategic advantage in a staffing industry growing more crowded by both traditional and online firms. By automating scheduling tasks and enabling workers to have more autonomy over their schedules, recruiters are spending less time on administrative duties and more time ensuring client satisfaction, recruiting new talent, and building lasting relationships – the true foundation of success.

While estimates of the gig economy’s reign appear to be overstated, there’s little dispute that technology and societal changes have enabled the emergence of the human cloud that will continue to play a complementary role in meeting staffing needs of today’s companies. The challenge – and opportunity – for staffing firms is (as described above) how to invest in technologies to match the agility gig workers seek, while nurturing the person-to-person connections that drive success.

Steve O’Brian

Steve O’Brian
Steve O’Brian is the VP of Marketing at Shiftboard, a workforce scheduling technology provider.

Steve O’Brian

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