“Change is the only constant in life” – I have been admiring the truth and beauty of this adage every single day for the last 3 decades of my career. This highlights the fact that the relevance of these words is unshaken even today. Technology – a bundle of innovation & change has been steadily engulfing us and if I try to simplify the relationship between Technologies, Businesses & People, I can’t help but wonder the diversification of talent that it has led us to. Today, businesses have access to a much wider geographic & demographic pool of talented people because of technology. For the last many years, we have been working continuously with peers from all corners of the world. And quite obviously, this change is also expecting some more change.
India is currently home to the youngest workforce and is adopting cutting edge technology, flexible work patterns, remote working and cross-functional learning to remain relevant with today’s employees. The shift is primarily due to a symbiotic relationship between a thriving ecosystem of talent and technology while addressing both demographic and regulatory challenges. Surveys conducted by leading consulting organisations covering key industries including manufacturing, financial services, IT & ITeS and other sectors are trying to establish a trend or pattern of movement towards a future workplace and the emerging work options.
The ease of access for talent to connect with opportunities, and vice versa, is looking right at a major up haul over the next few years. Gig Economy and Alternate workforce are the new-in-town buzz words that aim to evolve the current situation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gig economy is a workforce based on "single projects or task[s] for which a worker is hired, often through a digital marketplace, to work on demand." The start of Gig economy is not a current development in the talent landscape – outsourcing of employees on the payrolls of different partners has been there for decades. However, the market has grown very competitive world-wide, companies are looking to reduce overheads, whilst maximizing revenue. Now is an interesting time for alternate workforce to receive even greater exposure in the employment market, particularly with forward thinking organizations, who wish to benefit from the flexible operations. In the last decade or so, demand for specialized & deep expertise skills like web designers, graphic designers, content specialists etc. has increased multifold. Anyone can now easily access this specialized talent pool in an online marketplace without the restraints that come along with regular employment opportunities.
There are various reports explaining the ‘Gig’ economy and its culture. There are so many modes of operation viz. self-employed, part-time, side hustle, online support etc. The Gig economy has been reported to be preferred by 75% of Millennials and Gen Z, who want to work for themselves. It’s not a surprise that the younger generations no longer want to be bound to a desk all day, working for the same company for years. They are looking at the flexibility of their work lives as much as possible. Resultantly, freelancing professionals are available across almost every industry now, from accounting to healthcare, from law to media. And understanding the alternative workforce modes today, can help organizations plan and prepare for the future.
In the light of constant change; organizations will have to adapt and become more flexible, agile and streamlined. Having a large workforce of permanent, full-time employees will make this increasingly difficult. When all of this is brought together it becomes clear that the gig economy will continue to grow. The next few decades could even see the end of the full-time position as the prevalent mode of employment. Instead, organizations may function on a lean staff of decision makers and leaders, dipping in the global talent pool of gig workers to fill in the gaps. These workers will be recruited in to work on projects, with short-term contracts lasting days, weeks or months, which will help the organizations and workers to develop broad networks of contacts along the way and sell their brand.
The conversations and debates around gig workforce are to make the people aware of the varying degrees of changes in their workplace. Whilst there will be many who would resist this change & continue to work as today, there will be many more amongst us who would accept the reality and work towards developing relevant skills, deeper expertise & a positive frame of mind, thus creating opportunities on the go.