Is this the end of 9 – 5? How the gig economy is shaping the world of work

By Robert Half on 16th August 2018

For the modern employee, money is only half the benefit of a great job. Millennial workers place greater value on having a good work/life balance compared to other generations. It may be this attitude shift which has given rise to the ‘gig economy’—a new way of hiring and working which is set to alter the world of work irrevocably.

How digital transformation is changing the future of hiring

What is the ‘gig economy’?

The gig economy is a term used to classify work done on an individual job-by-job basis (or ‘gig’ by ‘gig’), rather than work performed in a permanent position within a company. 

Although most interpretations of the gig economy are quite loose, the general consensus is that it can take the form of temporary, contract or freelance work. These types of services could be app or website builds, copywriting, website migrations, or other project-based initiatives.

According to Government, The NatCen Panel found that 2.8 million people in the UK claimed to have worked in the gig economy within the last 12 months. It also revealed that over half of these (56%) were between the ages of 18 to 34 and were typically London residents.

The emergence of the gig economy is generally considered to have followed the recent digital revolution, which has made flexible, remote working possible.

The gig economy’s impact on the world of work

Many forward-thinking organisations are already adapting to account for the changes that the gig economy has set into motion. They understand that an open working ecosystem has more than one benefit for today’s modern workforce. It can accommodate the needs of the diverse spectrum of generations currently operating within the workplace and can help employees keep a healthy work-life balance. 

Not just a symptom of a need for greater flexibility, the gig economy is also representative of workers’ desire for more diverse career opportunities. In light of this, research has shown an expected 31% increase in job sharing, a 31% increase in job rotation and a 27% increase in interim and contract roles in UK workplaces. Employees will enjoy greater freedom, more trust, and a more diverse range of work than ever before.

In light of the recent shift towards hiring temporary and contact staff members and allowing greater employee autonomy, businesses will need to start innovating internal infrastructure to accommodate the new, open working style. Remuneration packages will also need to be reconsidered. Competitive advantage can be gained in the war for talent by offering flexible working, something which 32% of businesses say they already offer.

Workplace productivity: is 9 – 5 or flexible working best?

Last year, City A.M. reported that of all EU countries, the UK suffered the worst workplace productivity. This has prompted many to state that the way we work should be reviewed, with more equality, more flexibility and more transparency for workers. The impact of the gig economy is the perfect vehicle for kickstarting this change.

According to the Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide, flexible hiring strategies supplemented by temporary and interim professionals are helping businesses maintain productivity levels in the wake of the industry-wide skills shortage. Research showed that 33% of finance leaders planned to use temporary or interim professionals and 90% of CFO and FDs say that they’re planning to work with interim managers in the next 12 months.

Flexible working has also been shown to increase employee productivity. Almost two-thirds of HR directors (60%) said that they’d noticed an increase in productivity when employees were permitted to work remotely. The same can be said for creativity—51% said that they felt employee autonomy boosted employees’ ability to generate new and innovative ideas.

A study by HSBC supports evidence of higher productivity from autonomous staff. Regions who regularly adopt flexible working (London and South East) see higher levels of productivity on average, with 88% of employees stating that flexible working was a benefit which motivated them to work harder. It was proven far more motivational than a financial benefit, such as a pay rise.

For more advice on adopting a flexible recruitment strategy, hiring temporary or interim professionals, or to find new job opportunities, contact the team at Robert half today.

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