Constant change is here to stay and this is particularly true in today’s workplace. One of the most significant trends we are experiencing now, and one that we will see more of in the future, is the shifting of traditional organisational boundaries to encompass the gig economy.
The firm, once the most cost effective way of contracting, is now just one way of connecting those who demand with those who supply. Digital marketplaces, coupled with the work preferences of new generations entering the workplace, are breaking down the once impenetrable theory of the firm.
One noticeable effect is how, with the gathering momentum of the gig economy, team members are shifting away from their nine-to-five work week — a hangover from the industrial age — to a more flexible and agile way of working.
As with any trend, there is a typical adoption curve. It takes time for industry to become aware of and understand changes in the business environment, at which point, some leaders deny them, some try to wait them out, and of course some embrace them!
To retain competitive advantage, organisational strategy must adapt and respond to environmental changes. Leaders cannot rest on their laurels; their positions are constantly under threat, so they must cultivate a challenger mindset.
10 Questions to ask
To understand the implications that embracing the gig economy will have on your corporate strategy and your business structure, you need to ask your leadership team these questions:
- Are we aware of the growing trends of the gig economy, and do you understand the opportunity for our business?
- Is our cost base agile enough to respond to sudden disruptions or convergence in our industry?
- Do we have a high-performing and diverse workforce?
- Do we know how to find, select and on-board flexible talent?
- Do our leaders and managers know how to manage high performance within flexible talent teams?
- Do we have performance management processes in place for when things go wrong with our flexible ‘gig’ talent?
- If using flexible talent for client-facing work:
- Does our flexible talent share common values and represent our brand well
- Have we developed our fee structure to incorporate flexible talent costs and margins?
- Do our HR processes incorporate the issues unique to managing flexible talent, e.g. workplace health and safety, talent management and gender equality?
- Do we have communication channels in place to share appropriate organisational communications with flexible teams, and also protect IP and confidentiality as required?
- Do our plans around organisational structure and restructuring incorporate ways to leverage the gig economy by bringing in talent and reducing fixed cost base?
If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘no’, you may be missing critically important opportunities.
The traditional purpose and boundaries of the firm are being challenged, presenting exciting ways in which to engage members of the gig economy. Instant access to brilliant, flexible, dynamic, tailored and cost effective talent is a shining example of one of the benefits of embracing the gig economy. Another is the increased productivity that can be expected from engaged and motivated workers who are experts in their area, and who are held accountable for their performance.
Platforms like Expert360, Freelancer and Airtasker connect businesses with flexible top talent, effectively delivering expertise and support on tap. The service these platforms provide enables businesses to craft high-powered, surgically tailored and flexible teams to match project needs, on short-term, cost effective contracts.
It is clear that the gig economy, already powerful in many countries around the world, is gathering force in Australia. Companies will have to embrace this labour trend to be competitive as the business environment demands ever more exceptional talent and specialist skills to ensure success — which are exactly what the gig economy provides.
Heidi Sundin is the Director of The Agenda Agency — a boutique consulting firm specialising in corporate strategy, SME growth and gender strategy. She works with organisations to drive growth, innovation and gender diversity. Her approach is to collaborate with leaders and teams to develop customer-centric tailored solutions. Her experience spans strategy development and creating transformational programs across corporate, professional services, academic, government and the non-for-profit sectors. Check out theagendaagency.com