At first I wondered what this was all about. Like with others on whom I have since tested the expression, my fumbling mind turned to gigabytes and suchlike. But no, it’s got nothing to do with e-storage, and when I read further it was very obvious what it actually meant.
Ladies and gentlemen, the gig economy is the one I inhabit as a consultant. For I, as more and more people in this day and age, are hired to perform gigs — just like the jazz musicians of the 1920s who coined the expression. It’s short for “engagement”, and until not too long ago it still only referred to performing at concerts.
Now it’s used to describe any temporary position relating to contracting independent workers for short-term engagements. Indeed a study by Intuit quoted in the survey predicts that by 2020, 40 per cent of American workers will be such independent contractors.
It’s not altogether surprising as, confirms Deloitte, “the workforce is increasingly mobile and work can increasingly be done from anywhere, so that job and location are decoupled.
That means free-lancers can select among temporary jobs and projects around the world, while employers can select the best individuals for specific projects from a larger pool than that available in any given area.” Just as happens with me.
The survey also deals with the consequences of digitisation, which has contributed directly to a decrease in jobs as software replaces some types of work and results in others taking much less time.
Financial pressures on businesses have led to further staff reductions, we have witnessed increased mobility, particularly among millennials. All grist to the mill for the gig economy.
Elsewhere in the Deloitte survey there’s material about “organisational design”, the most critical, the feedback reveals, of all the human capital issues.
“As companies strive to become more agile and customer-focused,” I read, “organisations are shifting their structures from traditional, functional models toward interconnected, flexible teams.”
And “this new structure has sweeping implications, forcing programmes such as leadership development, performance management, learning, and career progression to adapt.”
Indeed, in several of the organisations I’ve been working with recently I have been advocating the formation of task forces to expose up and coming staff to broader perspectives and bigger responsibilities, and thereby to learning and growth, to breaking out of the confines of their silos and to engaging in innovative and strategic thinking.
It is also an opportunity for talent spotting, for observing the performance of task force leaders and other members, seeing who is ready for a next step in their careers and what help they need to prepare them for it.