What You Need to Know (and Do) About the Gig Economy

Get your company ready for the age of the independent contractor.

Gig Economy

The “gig economy” is here and the jig may be up on the traditional 9-to-5. (People still say, “jig,” right?) This emerging workforce of professionals who choose to work as free agents is growing rapidly. According to Harvard Business Review, roughly 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have left the office for life as an independent contractor. So, how does this new culture affect your business? Are you ready to get jiggy with the gig economy? (People still say, “jiggy,” right? No? Okay, let’s move on.)

What are the benefits?

The gig economy can mean large savings for businesses big and small. Traditional recruiting methods are costly and timely. And if you’re looking to hire millennials (who make up nearly 40% of the current workforce), a freelance position will likely be more attractive to them than having a cubicle to call their own. According to a study reported by Forbes, 87% of millennials want to work according to their own schedule and 92% say they prefer to work remotely.

Another benefit: No benefits! Okay, follow me on this one. Benefits total more than 30% of employees’ total compensation packages. Nearly 43% of businesses using gig workers save up to 20% in labor costs. That’s a nice chunk of change! So, it’s time to go gig or go home, right? Well…not so fast.

What are the disadvantages?

Freelancers are often free spirits, and you may find that some may have commitment issues. While you may want to hold onto the ones who do outstanding work, gig workers often have no need (and, fundamentally, no desire) to engage in long-term relationships with employers. Business consultants Ground Floor Partners suggest that gig workers aren’t interested in climbing the corporate ladder. “They are more interested in growing their own business rather than someone else’s,” they state, “and it’s tough for a business to grow if it doesn’t have its own pool of full-time employees.” It’s also tough to establish team cohesion if your office is a revolving door of freelancers.

How can I prepare for it?

Thinking of dipping your toe in the gig economy but don’t know where to start? There are steps you can take to make your business ready to accommodate the traffic of short-term and remote workers and—while you’re at it—your BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) employees as well. New, flexible and scalable communications services such as Hosted Voice, Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) and other fiber-based and cloud solutions allow you and your gig workers to stay securely connected, whether they’re working in your office or from home.