Thirty-five percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged in the gig economy as freelancers, according to a 2016 study commissioned by Upwork and the Freelancers Union. At the time, this amount represents roughly 55 million people. They, along with countless others around the world, are changing the face of work as we know it.
Today, globalization and the expanded capabilities of technology have made it possible for traditional full-time and part-time work to evolve into more flexible arrangements. Workers can now take on short-term contracts or engage in freelance work as part of their careers.
The number of people engaged in this work is steadily growing, and it is leading to what many call the “future of work.” The future of work represents a shift in how people do their jobs. For example, instead of employees having to work a traditional 9-to-5 shift in a physical office, technology and globalization have enabled employees to be hired regardless of their time zone or preferred work arrangement. The emergence of the gig economy is a component of this shift.
How Your Small Business Can Leverage the Gig Economy
The thought of not hiring a full-time worker can feel overwhelming. However, with some strategic planning and the right perspective, you can create a win-win situation for your company and a freelancer. Here are a few ways to use this work evolution to your advantage.
Experiment with Remote Work
Many studies out there are touting the benefits of remote work. However, it can be challenging to know for sure if this arrangement works for the structure of your company. One of the best ways to try this out is by hiring a gig economy worker. You can see firsthand if the function of your business is suited for location-independent work. You can test out collaboration and communication software, and even develop remote work policies to implement down the line for temporary and permanent workers.
Save on the Costs of Hiring a Full-Time Employee
Before you hire anyone for a new position, it is crucial that you take a look at the work required and see if it is possible to hire a freelancer for the role. For example, you may want to hire a director of marketing to oversee marketing and branding efforts for your company. However, it may be more cost-effective to hire a freelancer to handle a specific marketing task like social media management, content creation, or email marketing. Instead of having to pay for a yearly salary or a benefits package, you can pay this person only for the work you need (typically by the project or the hour). This situation can end up saving you money in the long-run.
Try Out Potential Talent
So, let’s say you have found that you do want a full-time person in a specific role. Why not try out this person in a temporary or contract-based position first? This tactic is a great way to see if this person is a fit for your company without going through the formal process of hiring them full-time. Set up a specified period of time, and see how they work within your company. This arrangement makes it much easier for both of you to end the working relationship if either one of you finds that the job is not the best fit.
Benefit from Having a Leaner Team
The gig economy provides you with the luxury of only having to hire for precisely what you need. If you know you only require temporary help with a project to meet a deadline for a client, you don’t have to hire on a long-term part-time or full-time person. This situation then allows you to have the freedom to be more strategic about hiring while preparing for the revenue ups-and-downs associated with the business.
For example, you may experience drops in revenue at various parts of the year. As a result, you can hire gig economy workers during the times of the year when the declines in income are not occurring. Having a much leaner team—that includes gig economy workers—makes it much easier to handle slow months, and capitalize on more successful times of the year.
High-speed internet, evolving attitudes toward work flexibility, and globalization have spurred the growth of the gig economy. Today, workers can connect with entrepreneurs and companies from all over the world. While this may shake up the status quo, gig economy workers allow small business owners to take advantage of lower hiring costs, flexibility and working with highly-skilled workers regardless of geographic location. It can be a real win-win for you and the freelancers you hire.
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This has been a JBF Business Media production.