How to Lead in the Gig Economy

Our workplaces are rapidly expanding and evolving. As typical 9-to-5 work transforms to freelance and temporary work, we find ourselves in the Gig Economy. Its characterized by the prevalence of contracts or freelance work instead of typical, permanent jobs. In fact, 20 to 30% of the working-age population already engage in some form of independent work.

Workers are drawn to the Gig Economy because of the flexibility it offers. Participants can work where, when, and as much as they want. Working from home or a coffee shop, setting flexible own hours, starting a business, and working with other contractors allow Gig Economy workers to create their ideal schedule, innovative, and stretch their creative muscles.

And the gig economy isn’t just for ride-sharing apps and food delivery services. As the Gig Economy continues to permeate industries and skill levels it becomes essential for leaders to transform to meet the needs of the new workforce.

Here are the leadership skills you need to succeed in the Gig Economy:

Identify resourceful individuals. The gig economy started because people capitalized on their excess capacity including their time, their cars, and even their homes. And it will continue to thrive with resourceful workers. Innovative leaders can take advantage of the Gig Economy to source highly-qualified workers. You will be able to hire workers with niche skills which you may not need on a full-time basis or tap into the excess of leading talent that has left the traditional labor force. Capitalize on both.

Establish processes. First, ensure your HR practices match up with your new workforce. Traditional HR practices and “employee” engagement software will need to be updated to meet the needs of your ever-changing staff. Agile tools will be vital to identify projects and source workers with the right skills. Also coordinate with your legal department to manage temporary workers – keeping compliance, speed, and flexibility in mind.

Establish management practices with your temporary talent, too. Don’t forget that gig workers will thrive with the same engagement level that you supply your regular employees. Focus on providing clear objectives, regular check-ins, feedback, and recognition for a job well done.

Stay up on the latest technology trends. Collaboration tools, chatbots, and virtual reality (VR) will change the way that co-workers collaborate. First, connectivity is key. Whether it’s video conferencing or chatbots, an organization must connect workers to empower collaboration within the team. Tools like Slack, Invisionapp, Flyp, will help workers stay connected, engaged, and on task. In the future, gig workers will use VR to connect with in-office employees or their bosses, removing barriers that keep them from contributing remotely.

Keep a pulse on the latest technology trends so that you can weave them into your business and attract the top temporary talent.

Stay connected. Identifying, vetting, and hiring gig workers can take valuable time, finances, and resources. It’s important to expand your professional network to identify and source the talent for your next project. Tap into your company alumni, local markets, join LinkedIn groups focused on topics applicable to your business, or one of the many companies that source high-end talent. They’ll all be valuable resources when looking for talent.

Researchers at Stanford are making strides when it comes to using AI to identify and assign tasks to available talent. They’ve invented flash teams that use software platforms to break down complex, collaborative work, such as web design, into specific tasks that a network assigns to a freelancer. Once the work is finished, the team is dissolved but can be reassembled for similar work in the future.

Be agile. This is arguably the most important. As the Gig Economy continues to grow, we will undoubtedly experience turns and shifts in the way we work. Above all, it’s essential that leaders remain as agile as their workers to meet the changing demands of the Gig Economy.

What are your experiences with Gig Economy? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.

HP CTO & Global Head HPLabs. Technology futurist, passionate leader focused on 3dprinting, cybersecurity, drones, travel, and FriendsNational.

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