Gig Economy: The End of Traditional Employment?

We live in an age of transformation never seen in the history of mankind.

12,000 years ago the Neolithic revolution transformed human societies from hunter gatherer tribes to more static farming based communities.

In the Eighteenth Century the Agricultural Revolution ended the reliance of people on the land.

The Industrial Revolution then introduced power-driven machinery and factory production.

But, the size, speed and global nature of the current Information and Technology Age   make all the previous revolutions seem like mere warning tremors before the big earthquake.

And that earthquake is happening right now.

It is triggering tidal waves of disruption to crash over the world of work like never before.

“The size, speed and global nature of the current Information and Technology Age make all the previous revolutions seem like mere warning tremors.”

The information and Technology revolution, like it’s slower, more localised predecessors, is fundamentally changing the nature of work, the structure or labour and the attitudes of employers and employees, both at home and at work.

We Liv in An Age of Change

The full implications are difficult to define, but several patterns can now be mapped with a degree of certainty.

These include the rise of:

  • Artificial intelligence, with software robots replacing people in many jobs;
  • virtual and augmented reality – literally changing the way we see and interact – with the world;
  • the mass production of driver-less vehicles – disrupting how we travel; and
  • (perhaps most important of all), the gig economy.

It is these areas – and the way that technology helps us to collaborate – that will challenge the very nature of work itself.

Digital Disruption Has Transformed Your Life

The world of work has changed dramatically – even in the last ten years – but you’ve probably been largely insulated from these effects.

What’s been happening is the blurring of boundaries between:

  • Employment;
  • contracting (freelance);
  • remote; and
  • digital staff.

You only have to consider:

  • Uber’s influence within the Taxi industry;
  • AirBnB’s disruption of hotels;
  • Amazon’s influence on traditional book stores; and
  • traditional television distributions.being upended by digital streaming outlets such as Netflix.

But – It’s nothing new!

The term ‘Creative Destruction’ was first coined by Joseph Schumpter way back in 1940 to describe the way technological progress improves the lives of many, at the cost to a few.

What is ‘Digital Disruption’?

The change when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services, according to Techtarget.

These disruptive technologies, particularly regarding:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI);
  • Robotics; and
  • Automation

are shaping the future of the global workforce. Especially in relation to the gig economy.

A ‘gig economy’ is when companies use freelance talent on more frequent, short-term contracts.

7.6 million Americans will be regularly working in the gig economy by 2020 (

It’s not restricted to developed economies:

By 2030, between 75 million and 375 million workers (3 –14% of the global workforce), will need to switch occupational categories because of automation technologies that include AI and robotics. – McKinsey Global Institute.

The Rise of the Gig Economy

The lines between traditional work and contracting are blurring daily.

You may Intuitively think you understand the differences between permanent and contact staff. But, on inspection, ask yourself: How many of these assumptions hold weight?

Do you assume that contractors are highly skilled specialists? Used for short-term bursts of extremely focused work whereas your full time employees in it for the long haul?

I did too.

As the contractor market continues to grow, and entire sectors become disrupted by gig economy workers, these arguments do not withstand scrutiny.

The conclusions are fairly stark.

Employment Vs Full Time = £0

Once you add the costs of a person’s employment AND take into account the impact of hiring on the business…

… the cost savings versus contractors simply no-longer exist.

Basically, this changes the very nature of a full-time workforce:

Imagine for a moment that your entire marketing team is made of contractors – used as and when you need them to match their skills and your need. – Even if you use the same contractors all the time, they’ll be no more expensive to the business than employing directly.

Over the next three years, the average casual workforce will grow by 30% – Beeline

One in five workers in the US are currently contractors – globally this could be up to 45%. And 70% of organisations are looking to expand their external workforce. So, if you’ve not yet been disrupted by contractors in your organisation the current trend suggests it is just a matter of time.

The Impact of The Gig Economy Now

It is in IT and software development that the effects are being felt right now.

And this has triggered fresh innovation:

You can get the most from contract workers by making sure that your existing team and freelance talent work together fast.

This was the realisation that led me to start ClearHub three years ago. I could see that managing directors needed:

  • A fast, safe solution.
  • Guaranteed technical skills for quality work.
  • Someone who would drop into their existing team without disrupting productivity.

I already had access to the Platinum-standard expertise through my company and personal knowledge of building high-performing agile teams.

So, it was a logical step that we could use this combination to help other companies realise the benefits of the gig economy with our expert guidance and support.

Welcome to the Future of Work

As non-traditional forms of talent continue to grow in importance, your organisation will need new strategies to attract and manage contractors and freelancers.

That will mean implementing an entirely new approach for overseeing how contractors and core employed staff work in harmony.

While you may already have some process in place to help with this, the majority of companies will have a fair amount of work to do to fully embrace the gig economy.

Interested in getting ahead of the competition? I’d love to hear from you and discuss some of your ideas – and possibly share some of the insights I gained from my work with contractors!

What do you think? Do you already use contractors in your company? – Or would you consider it in the future? Let me know in the comments below!

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