Gig work, gigging, or crowdsourcing—Call it what you like; it’s here to stay, and it’s growing. The World Economic Forum calls it the fourth industrial revolution. Infosys’ Ravi Kumar even asserts that FTEs (full-time equivalents) will only be a small percentage of the future workforce, with gig workers reaching prevalence. With the “Great Resignation” in full swing and potentially reaching its height, employers everywhere are examining how to take a fresh approach to staffing, hiring, and retention. Our research indicates that leveraging the gig economy or crowdsourcing is the second greatest expected change in enterprises’ ways of working over the coming year. Here are some of the key points to note.
- Gig is maturing in the services space. While some think immediately of the trite Uber example as synonymous with gig models, crowdsourcing has been around in professional services long before the “uberization” of everything. Providers such as Elance (now Upwork) have been connecting freelancers with digital platforms for over two decades. Notable examples HFS has covered in the IT/BPO space are Concentrix Solv, Wipro’s Topcoder, and Q2 HFS Hot Vendor LiveXchange.
- Flexibility and augmentation are the two key value propositions of crowdsourcing. Just as workers crave more flexibility and control, flexibility is one of the most critical drivers of gig adoption for enterprises. During periods of peak demand, tapping into a workforce and paying “by the drink” is appealing to help scale operations.
- Sourcing specialized talent. Particularly for CX-focused operations, we’ve noted that companies are taking advantage of gig to source for niche requirements such as an affinity to a particular brand or hobby to better connect with the customer.
- There are certain complexities and risks inherent in crowdsourcing. Operations leaders will often be concerned about quality control, customer trust, and worker protection. Operations leads will need to carefully consider which work is retained in an FTE model. Thinking through each process in terms of transparency and security is necessary to make informed decisions.
The Bottom Line: Operations leaders worth their salt must absolutely be exploring the potential for gig to augment their workforce
The pandemic has fueled a cultural shift. The idea of working from anywhere means you don’t have to be tied to a desk, and gig is just the next phase of that shift. Crowdsourcing and gig models aren’t a fit for every process or a wholesale operational model change, but companies will increasingly use them combined with work-from-home, in-office, and hybrid workforces. Enterprise operations leaders must examine this delivery option if they haven’t already as a lever to pull for staff augmentation and improved CX.