FUTURE OF WORK

How Big Business is Supporting the Gig Economy6 min read

May 22, 2017
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How Big Business is Supporting the Gig Economy6 min read

General Motors recently launched Gig, a new program for freelance drivers that allows them to rent all-electric Chevrolet Bolt cars for $229/week. The rental rate includes insurance, maintenance and free electric charging at EVgo stations.

Many drivers rent or lease vehicles when working for companies like Uber and Lyft, but renting a vehicle makes it more difficult to work for multiple rideshare companies, as many drivers do to optimize the frequency of pickups. Uber’s Vehicle Solution and Lyft’s Express Drive programs require that drivers meet a minimum number of rides or hours per week to become eligible.

Gig aims to address this pain point by being the go-to rental solution for drivers operating in the gig economy, allowing them to seamlessly work for multiple rideshare companies without having to worry about logging minimum hours.

GM isn’t the first major corporation to recognize the growing “freelance” movement and adopt their business accordingly. Increasingly, major players are shifting their strategies, hiring structures and products to cater to the growing freelance workforce. Here are a few examples.

Companies are going fully remote

Technology is making it easier than ever to work remotely, whether that means working from home for part of the week or traveling the globe as a digital nomad, all while remaining to hold down that steady job. In many situations, remote work benefits all parties and studies have shown that productivity and performance increases when an employee works remotely.

In fact, the ability to work remotely is starting to become a key factor for prospective talent in their decision to accept or reject a job. Companies such as Groove HQ and 10Up are almost fully remote, with all their employees located in different cities. Others, like Zapier, are fully remote with team members working from all corners of the globe.

Of course, this comes with it challenges, including building a work culture that embraces remote work, but at the same time encourages accountability and commitment. Buffer pioneered the fully-remote trend in the tech space. Their blog, called Open Buffer, espouses the benefits of a remote work structure.

“The thing about hiring people for a distributed team is that they need to be self-motivated and productive working at home, coffee shops or a co-working space”, writes Joel Gascoigne, founder of Buffer. He goes on to say that Buffer actually prefers to hire people who’ve been freelancers or have worked at startups.

Demand for freelance talent is on the rise

Even at companies that aren’t fully remote, the desire and, in some cases, need to find and hire freelance talent is gaining momentum. It is becoming increasingly common for big businesses to hire talent on an as needed basis for specific projects or initiatives that might require unique or specialized talent. FlexJobs, an online job portal for freelance, remote and flexible time work, released insights last year that uncovered which major companies were hiring contract talent, and for which roles.

It's becoming increasingly common for big businesses to hire talent for specific projects or initiatives. Click To Tweet

Per the report, Facebook was one of the top employers of freelance talent. The Menlo Park-based tech giant specifically sought out contractors for project management roles, such as product managers, sourcing managers and program managers. Media agency BBC Worldwide also hired in the same category.

In healthcare, freelancers were being sought for positions such as clinical psychologist, medical coder and clinical nurse. In IT, companies like IBM and VMware were looking for contingent works to fill positions in web development, system administration and network engineering.

The demand for freelancers is not just for entry level or dispensable positions either. A survey by Addison Group, a recruitment firm, revealed that 88 percent of hiring managers are more comfortable hiring contractual workers for senior level roles than they were five years ago.

Policies against moonlighting are being loosened

Two different reports by Adobe and Career Builder found that about 30 percent of U.S. workers hold two or more jobs. This number is higher in millennials, with over 44 percent of them holding multiple jobs. (You can check out more information on these ‘Slash Workers’ from AND CO’s new study on the future of independent work.)

Interestingly, workers are not pursuing these side hustles for the financial gains alone. While 88 percent of the respondent’s to Adobe’s study admitted that they were doing it for the money, 60 percent also said they were doing it for recognition and just over 50 percent  believed in the social impact their work had.

Moonlighting, or having a side business in addition to one’s “day job,” has historically been frowned upon by employers who want talent fresh and focused. But consider this: 78 percent of people surveyed by Adobe believed that their side hustles made them more optimistic and happier.

Employees who moonlight can be valuable assets to any company according to Rosemary Haefner, the chief HR Officer at Career Builder. In Career Builder’s report, Haefner recommends workers pursue opportunities outside office hours because as entrepreneurs, these employees:

  • Gain skills off the clock: Building your own business in your spare time gives you real world experience you can add to your resume and bring to your next job interview.
  • Bring an entrepreneurial spirit to their jobs: Employers are looking for entrepreneurial, proactive team members and self-starters to achieve organizational results.
  • Boost creativity: Entrepreneurial employees thrive when handed something to create. At its core, entrepreneurship is all about bringing ideas to life in creative ways.
Employees who moonlight are valuable assets to any company. #gigeconomy Click To Tweet

Companies are increasing continuing ed budgets for beyond-the-job learning

Learning and development is an important employee benefit. However, for millennials, who make up the largest segment of the American workforce now, it may very well be the No. 1 benefit, according to one study fielded by PwC.

Big businesses realize this and are now giving more weightage to learning opportunities for their employees, even encouraging them to learn skills that may not be directed related to their current role. Salesforce, for instance, has a system wherein employees and managers sit together and frame learning journeys that are designed to meet each individual employee’s unique learning goals and needs.

Facebook has invested in continued learning by making on-demand classes available to its global workforce and offering career flexibility employees.

As the freelance economy picks up steam, and evolves into a legitimate and sustainable career path for tens of millions of workers worldwide, big businesses are embracing its potential. For a corporate world that is oftentimes shackled to legacy systems and complex machinations, this new talent pool offers fluidity, simplicity and the ability for big businesses to focus on results above all else.

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Urooj is a contributor for Hustle&Co, the leading publication devoted to educating and empowering the future workforce. She recently quit her job as a Product Manager to get back to doing some kickass writing. She can be reached at [email protected].
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