Gig workers are changing teams – and immediately you may ask – HOW?

  • They are changing from Corporate Teams to Independents.
  • They are changing the make-up of Corporate teams by adding their specialty skills.
  • And they are changing the way Corporations view Independent talent.

But it didn’t start out like this –

  • In 2007 during the recession many workers reluctantly took second jobs simply to make ends meet. They would work a traditional job and have “side-hustle” to augment their earnings.
  • As the economy started to improve, reluctance turned to preference, and many of those same workers decided to forego working for their Corporate employers and become Independent Contractors exclusively.
  • Now free agent workers represent nearly 1/3 of the work force, that’s 40 million for those of you doing the math. And anticipated to grow to 1/2 by 2020 and possibly as high as 4/5 in 2030.
  • Imagine 4 out of 5 technical workers lending their skills to your project, are there as highly trained, highly qualified Independent Contractors. Sounds more like a movie set than a development environment and cost savings in this model can be significant.

So as you think about your team, your talent and how you engage with this changing workforce here are some things that may help you –

Why do the workers seek this free agent arrangement?

  • Flexibility and Autonomy in the Work Hours and Location.
  • Multiple Clients and Projects improve technical skills.
  • Higher income and less chance of job loss with multiple Clients.

And Corporations, what do they get?

  • Experts to augment their technical teams as demands dictate.
  • Reduced cost of employee benefits and health insurance.
  • Talent that doesn’t demand office space, tools or training.

And what are the challenges that may arise in this new team structure?

Communication and Collaboration
A clear and consistent communication path and pattern is key here. Teams should have a tool that allows for on-demand communication, file sharing and project updates. These tools should be available to all whether onsite or off.

Process and Project Planning
Clearly defined processes and well-planned projects are the key to successful team performance. Establishing clear rules and patterns of response ensures that resources can move on and off projects in support of it’s timeline, not in spite of it. Timelines are critical when engaging free agents, and planning is everything.

Corporate Culture and Team Cohesion
Conveying the value of independent contribution and of a strong team is important in these new hybrid development environments. Independent Contractors and Employees alike feel more committed and connected when there are no distinctions in the way that they are treated.

Compliance and Classification
There are employment compliance implications with the use of Independent Contractors and they are real and more and more frequently being enforced. The IRS takes very seriously the distinction between an Employee and an Independent Contractor. Make sure that your organization has checked and double checked the rules and complies fully to protect against fees and penalties for misclassification.

So is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Really, it is just a thing. As technology and people continue to evolve and interact, things change. Ride-sharing changed, as Uber disrupted an entire ride-for-hire industry, just as temporary lodging changed when AirBNB gave rise to temporary home sharing. Companies are adjusting to the patterns and desires of the labor they need to execute their missions, and Gig workers are changing teams.