Consumers and hopeful freelancers from San Francisco to Shanghai are wheeling and dealing in the global gig economy (sometimes called the “on-demand economy”), embracing both a new level of consumerism and a new brand of work-life balance. You’d be hard-pressed to find a product or service that doesn’t have an up-and-coming on-demand component anymore, from laundry to lattes.
Embrace Flexibility, aka Think Like a Millennial
Time to change your paradigm when it comes to employee oversight. You might be comforted by the illusion of having a greater amount of control simply because you’re all in the same building (do you really know what your employees are working on, just because they’re two floors down?), but the millennials (the people at the heart of the gig economy) aren’t having it. Not only does this increased flexibility allow you to tap talent in more places, but it appeals to the very talent you’re trying to attract. Millennials value flexibility even more than compensation.
Taking a flexible approach is critical to all aspects of employee relations in the gig economy, from recruiting to retention to your corporate reputation. Learn all you can about your employees’ perspective, the best ways to approach managing employees in the gig economy, and set yourself up for success with tools that both in-office and contract employees can adopt. These tools should encourage accountability and project updates, give you a bird’s eye view of project status, and reward productivity. In other words, embrace the same technology and emphasis on flexibility that are fueling the surge in gig work and a sharing economy in the first place.
Which leads us to our next point.
Collaborate in the Cloud
The gig economy relies on technology in the hands of the masses – and you should too. Not just to fully integrate freelancers with in-office employees, but also to find and vet contractors within the gig economy itself. Cloud-based apps are generally low cost and high-functioning, and the best part is that it’s easy to vet their usefulness online. Reviews, free trials and employee feedback should give you an accurate picture of how well a particular app will suit your needs. Make special note of how well the app integrates with other apps you’re looking at, and whether there are hidden costs or subscription fees.
What are the must-haves for any company? Apps that meet critical needs of accountability, collaboration and communication among employees and managers.
- Accountability: Keep a pulse on what everyone is working on in real time with cloud-based time tracking technology. Don’t rely on guesswork or an endless relay of emails to determine who’s doing what. With workers on the go, using technology that gives you an eye in the sky is invaluable.
- Collaboration: In today’s interconnected world, collaboration has gone digital. As you collaborate with gigsters, freelancers and in-office employees, take advantage of tools that allow for brainstorming, note taking and feedback online. .
- Communication: Communication that’s easy, cloud-based and involves all the right parties is essential to rocking the tech-heavy, work-anywhere realm of the gig economy. Try these highly rated virtual communication platforms.
Collaborating in the cloud might sound daunting at first, but making the leap isn’t nearly as scary as it might sound. Oded Ran, CEO at London-based Touchnote, says of his company’s positive experience in employing remote workers and working in the cloud, “[Online hiring] is a no brainer. The fact they might be based in eastern Europe is absolutely fine, as our servers are in the cloud anyway.”
Know Your Competition, Then Be the Competition
When it comes to product offering, take a hard look at how the gig economy is edging in on what you offer the world.
- Is it more convenient?
- Easier to trust?
- A better value in terms of price?
Before you leap to offer your own services or product in an on-demand fashion, do your market research.
- Does it make sense?
- Is there an opportunity to compete on your own terms (if the on-demand product or service that you’re competing with falls short in either value, convenience or trust)?
- Where can you adjust your marketing strategy to compete in the gig economy?
Leaping to offer a similar style of service or product in an on-demand capacity may or may not be a good idea. But good old fashioned market research and a hard look at the needs you’re actually meeting for customers is always a good strategy.
Look Before You Leap
Make it a priority to explore all legal ramifications. This holds true when it comes to employing gigsters in your business, or jumping into the gig economy as a business with with a new on-demand angle to your product or service offering.
One of your biggest pitfalls to avoid in the gig economy will center around employee classification. With lawsuits popping up all over the place related to employee misclassification (Uber, Amazon, Homejoy, and so on, and so on) it will pay in the long run to consult with legal experts before adding an on-demand angle to your business, or starting an ongoing relationship with gigsters in the gig economy.
Whether you’re planning on entering the gig economy as a player (by offering on demand services, etc.) or employing any amount of freelancers, classify with care (or face hefty fines and draining legal action).
When it comes to the gig economy, collaborating effectively, embracing flexibility and doing your due diligence can help you not only survive but thrive. While on-demand everything is definitely uncharted territory in some ways (and a whole new world of technology), entering the ring with the right tools and the right perspective will make all the difference.
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