The Secret Sauce for productivity?

Greg Hanover, CEO of Liveops Inc, claims organisations that tap into the power of the gig economy see much increased (% ?) workforce engagement and productivity

Why so?

He believes it’s because independent workers are empowered to follow their unique goals and create satisfying careers for themselves

And he’s right – it’s not only good for gig employees who prefer that way of working, it’s also good for their employers – it’s why we made good use of what we called ‘associates’ back in the 80s to man most of a consultancy division that way

Nowadays, from Uber to TaskRabbit, gig work has become ubiquitous – indeed, it’s fast becoming the dominant staffing model – for example:

  • In 2016, gig workers comprised some 34% of the U.S. labour force
  • Intuit, a financial services company, forecasts that number will reach 43% by 2020

This trend is driven in part by studies of full-time workforces which indicate that:

  • The average employee actually spends under three hours each day working productively – yet is paid for eight or more
  • Even the majority of employees themselves believe they could complete their daily workloads in only five hours
  • And, instead of working fewer hours, full-time employees are increasingly compelled to stay later and work longer – a sure-fire recipe for fatigue, burnout and chronic stress

Full-time and overtime environments thus not only generate huge waste, made worse if demand varies significantly from week to week, but often sap employees of the will to be productive – nevertheless, many organisations still choose to employ full-timers only, believing that gives them more control over their workers’ use of time, quality of work and knowledge of company secrets – they overlook the fact that gig-employees also have to be carefully selected, then trained up to company standards and need not be retained if they fail later on – and, re secrets, full-timers also can and do quit their jobs, most without any gagging constraints and often to join the competition

And they don’t fully appreciate that the on-demand gig model has big advantages:

  • It ensures 100% productivity – gig workers only get paid when they are productive
  • Gig workers, not their employers, have to manage the costs of their equipment, real estate, income taxes and insurance premiums
  • Gig workers have control over their lives and careers, and so tend to be more effective, motivated, and creative than many of their 9-to-5 counterparts

The gig economy thus promotes worker satisfaction, loyalty and productivity

By contrast, Greg goes on to say that full-timers’ engagement can vary significantly – “Even employees who love their jobs can experience low energy levels, off days and shifts when there seems to be nothing to do but wait out the clock”

However: “Independent workers seldom face the same problems – if they’re tired or bored, they can log off and come back to work when they’re ready – if motivation suddenly strikes, they can harness it immediately – if they work less than usual one week, they can make up for it another week”

Such flexibility is particularly important for creative workers (writers and designers), parents, people with disabilities, people pursuing more than one career or anyone with any obligation, interest, or lifestyle that doesn’t fit neatly into a traditionally segmented 40-hour workweek – work can happen when people are at their best, whether it’s early in the morning or later at night after the kids are put to bed – plus, on-demand work is adaptable – it can change as workers’ schedules, finances, living situations and other circumstances change

Conversely, monotony can kill engagement faster than rigid scheduling – few people thrive in settings where they are expected to do the same thing in the same way, day in and day out

Gig work can thus expose people to a wide variety of environments, processes, clients and ways of doing business – variety which not only fosters a person’s interest in their work but also increases their value for new and existing clients

When you’ve encountered more than one solution, you can choose, or create, the ideal answer for a given problem – this can save workers and organisations significant time and energy – people can take lessons learned from one gig and apply them to another – and the more opportunities someone takes on, the broader and deeper their knowledge base grows

Overall, Greg believes companies that leverage the gig economy don’t need to worry about engagement and productivity – because workers need to ensure it for themselves

We wouldn’t go quite so far – undoubtedly, partial gig employment has become an important employment model for many organisations in the 21st century – a model which is likely to become even more widespread – but it’s unlikely to fully replace the relative security of full-time employment for many years yet

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