How the gig economy can work for everyone

You’ve heard the statistics. In just a few years, the majority of workers will have jobs that fall outside the traditional 9–5 model. The gig economy is here and growing. At Projectline, we are seriously motivated by what this new world means for both talent and the companies who need that talent. After all, we specialize in contingent resources, consulting, and outsourced managed teams. We are happy that, according to a recent survey by the McKinsey Global Institute, “Free agents reported higher levels of satisfaction in multiple dimensions of their work lives than those holding traditional jobs by choice.” We also know that the days of long-term job security are behind us, even for those who work full-time for a large stable corporation.

Free agents reported higher levels of satisfaction in multiple dimensions of their work lives than those holding traditional jobs by choice.

Despite the strong reasons for both employers and talent to embrace the future of work, I think it is critical that we be strategic in planning for this future. We need a gig economy that works for all parties—one where we can experience the pros and mitigate the cons, while recognizing that sometimes the benefits to business can be a downside for talent and vice versa. (See figure 1). If I were in charge of planning this future, here are the changes I would like to see that could maximize the benefits—for workers and companies—of the massive flexibility that the gig economy promises:

gig economy talent pros cons
Figure 1
  1. Untether healthcare from employment and specific employers. Our healthcare system was developed in the age where people stayed at a job for their entire lives and retired with a company pension. A single-payer healthcare system could help solve some of the current challenges because it ties healthcare to individuals, not the places they work. Our 401ks move easily now, so should healthcare. Going to the doctor between gigs should not be an issue. And companies shouldn’t bear the burden of making sure our communities have healthcare.
  2. Subject global piece work to minimum wage regulation. Developed economies should adhere to a minimum wage in countries that don’t self-regulate to increase global equality instead of exploiting foreign labor.
  3. Offer free four-year university education for every person in the United States. Making higher education available to all would ensure that workers have the discipline, critical thinking skills, and exposure to global intellectual ideas needed to create an informed long-term path for themselves and to avoid being exploited by a rapidly changing economy.
  4. Replace quarterly earnings reports as the main driver of investment in public companies with something more enduring—perhaps a trailing 36-month triple bottom line (social, financial, and environmental) and 12-month predictive report. (The exact ideal report is a topic for its own blog post, of course.). This would allow companies the room to build long-term resourcing plans that maximize over the life of a company, rather than a quarter.
  5. Support for collectives or cooperatives of equity- holding contingent gig workers. They can share resources, marketing, best practices, training, and vendor relationships with enterprise companies, especially when companies such as Projectline are not present in the industry. They could be collaborative when client needs demand. They could also unionize when necessary to ensure talent safety and fair wages.

If talented people were guaranteed the healthcare and education they need to have long and fulfilling careers, they would be less tentative about contingent, gig, and consulting work. They could have flexibility without jeopardizing their long-term economic health. As Business Professor Diane Mulcahy recommends, they could look for interesting and plentiful “work” instead of looking for a job. If employers knew that they would have access to the talent they need, when they need it, they could have more agility without exploiting the workforce or mitigating risks with higher prices.

What do you think? What would you build into the #FutureOfWork so that everyone benefits?
At Projectline, we are interested in creating this future with our consultants and our clients. If this sounds interesting, get in touch with us on Twitter @projectline and @AnikaMarketer. For a behind- the- scenes look at Projectline life, follow us on Instagram @projectline.