The decade of 2020 began with a disruptive change in the way we will all work going forward. Work from home and remote working became a Business Continuity initiative rather than a flexible plan offered by Human Resources for certain categories of employees. Companies are rewriting policies to accommodate gig workers and digital nomads.
What does this mean to you?
You still have the option to work full-time for a company and can work hard to move up the corporate ladder to a leadership position after years of experience. Your company will offer you flexible shift options along with full or partial remote working. For instance, you can go to the office for a few days a week while working from home on the remaining days.
You can become a digital nomad and choose not to be tied to a particular location. You are connected through the internet and work for a company either part-time or full-time. The company you work for need not have an office in the city you stay in. As a person looking for employment, the world is now open to you to search and apply for a job at any company of your choice without geographical limitations. As a borderless workforce, you get the flexibility to try out other job roles you had wished to explore before.
The Gig Economy – How Does It Work?
You can become a gig worker which is on-call or on-demand contractual work for multiple clients. This is essentially technology-enabled freelancing. There are several online platforms where you can register yourself by creating a profile and describing your skills and experience. Companies with requirements in your areas of expertise will reach out to you or you can browse through job postings by multiple companies and offer them your services at hourly rates. You are in complete control of choosing the projects that you are passionate about, determining the hours you work in a day, and setting the amount you are paid for each gig.
Let us look at some examples:
Jason, who is based out of Palo Alto, loves graphic designing and is an expert in using Adobe Creative Suite. He accepts projects such as designing brochures and advertisements. He is also a delivery partner with an online food delivery platform. Last week, he designed advertisements for a company based in Detroit while also getting 5 stars on all the deliveries he made in Palo Alto. He is an amicable, hard-working graduate who loves to ride motorcycles as much as he is passionate about art and designs.
Farzana is a graduate student at Columbia University who loves coding in Python and is passionate about Machine Learning and Computer Vision. She registered herself in one of the freelancing portals and shared her areas of expertise. She was shortlisted by a CEO of a technology startup in New York who gave her a short-term project in building facial recognition software. The CEO was so impressed with Farzana’s work that he started referring her to his professional network. Farzana is currently building a Minimum Viable Product in Computer Vision while working on a coding assignment for a data visualization project for a different client.
Jason and Farzana are active on professional social media platforms sites such as LinkedIn where they maintain their profiles, follow groups that are of interest to them, and connect with professionals worldwide. They also actively share their ideas on these platforms. Do you know what more they have in common? They use Duolingo on their smartphones to learn languages. Jason is learning German while Farzana is sharpening her English language proficiency.
The Impact of a Fluid Workforce on Companies Globally
Companies will no longer find it difficult to recruit people with specialist skillsets as the Fluid Workforce erases geographical boundaries and also provides opportunities for short-term, project-specific engagements. This will dramatically bring down costs and reduce the time to find the right people for projects across domains. They now have access to a global talent pool.
Don’t Fear Automation, Embrace It
As companies automate routine, repetitive, and manual processes, we will find ourselves with more time on our hands to learn and acquire new skills in areas that we are passionate about. You don’t have to worry about losing your job to automation. The gig era means that you will immediately be able to find another job or even take up multiple gigs with the new skills you acquired. What’s more! You may even get paid better.
In conclusion, remote working and the gig economy are here to stay as they unlock tremendous opportunities, both for the workforce and the industry. While the workforce needs to constantly upskill themselves to stay relevant, the companies need to reinvent workforce policies, streamline processes, and invest in next-generation technologies such as cybersecurity, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. to ensure that the economics work in their favor.