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Building a Gig Workforce to Meet Shifts in Demand

During this time of change, the very notion of work and how it gets done has been reimagined.  


Companies had to transition the majority of their workforce to remote almost overnight. Still faced with much uncertainty, remote working arrangements have been extended or made indefinite in some situations, as companies and employees continue to find their strides and establish a sense of normalcy. With this change, many leaders are discovering that working remotely is not the productivity challenge they’d feared and that having a remote workforce can actually be advantageous in terms of flexibility and output. At the same time, more employees are discovering the benefits of working remotely and enjoying the autonomy it provides, as well as the added time back in their schedules from eliminating a commute.

This paradigm shift puts the emphasis more fully on productivity rather than facetime, and in effect, transitions the work environment to a project-based dynamic. This lends itself to the mass adoption of gig workers, who can be a valuable resource for companies that need to scale up or down more efficiently to meet evolving business needs. By reducing the number of gig workers when times are slow and adding more when demand increases, companies can adapt to shifting economic conditions more nimbly. With many more traditional industries currently seeing a greater supply of gig workers — for example, teachers, health-care workers and warehouse managers — now is a particularly advantageous time for businesses to consider building a gig workforce. When developing this sector of talent, there are a few key considerations to make.    

Fine-Tune Your Workforce by Evaluating Specific Needs
As your company evaluates engaging gig workers to meet talent needs, it would benefit you to adopt a task-oriented mindset. Rather than thinking about pure headcount, you want to consider projects as a sum of the parts and hire specific skill sets to fit those needs. For example, if your company has a project that requires tasks to be completed in two or more locations, to optimize costs you may want to strategically engage multiple gig workers who are based locally instead of hiring a full-time employee who would need to travel between sites, especially during a period when travel presents difficulties. 

Leverage Communication for Success
As you bring on gig workers, make sure that your full-time employees and gig workers are set up to work together smoothly. A successful dynamic starts with clear communication. Your business needs a core group of full-time employees who possess a deep understanding of how your company works and what your clients expect; the role of gig workers is to round out this core group with specific skills and flexibility that certain projects or functions might demand.

Keep full-time employees focused on what they do best, and clearly communicate how gig workers can be helpful to them and the particular role they’ll serve in carrying out a project. Gig workers are often looking for a distinct worker experience; they value the freedom that comes with focusing their time and energy on specific tasks as opposed to integrating them within a team.  

Build the Infrastructure for a Blended Workforce
In addition to clear communication, organizations must have the right policies, processes and tools in place to ensure gig workers can successfully fulfill the needs of the projects they’re brought on to support in a timely, efficient and compliant manner. To manage the talent experience across your traditional and extended workforce, you should leverage tools that ensure a smooth onboarding process, allow employees to easily engage and possibly help manage gig workers and give you visibility into your workforce on issues such as total spend, who is delivering what and when, worker performance and customer satisfaction to allow you to take action when needed. It’s critical to additionally set up central compliance rules and parameters that reduce legal risks, as the laws surrounding gig workers often vary by location.

Gig workers are an undeniable component of the modern workforce and can help propel an organization forward. When deployed thoughtfully and with the right infrastructure in place, a blended workforce allows companies to scale up and down more effectively and navigate uncertainty with agility, which is quickly becoming a demand amid dynamic business conditions.

About the Author

Jens Audenaert is the division vice president and general manager at WorkMarket, an ADP company.

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