One of the joys of writing blogs is the freedom to make unsupported claims that would provoke fury in the ranks of sub-editors at the Economist.
Today’s red-rag to the Economist sub-editors is this: By 2028, 15% of money spent on wages by FTSE 100 companies (and other large organisations) will be spent in the gig economy.
How so? The gig economy is here to stay. Whilst the advantages to employers of the gig economy model are fairly obvious, recent reports by the RSA and BEIS show that the majority of people working in the gig economy enjoy it and value the flexibility it brings. This is all very encouraging to people like me who feel that the gig economy can be a force for good. In other good news, the gig economy is also likely to become more responsible as legislation rushes to catch up and catch out the minority who use it to exploit employees. As an aside (do they allow asides in the Economist?), when will there be a Trade Union for gig economy workers?
Making the most of the gig economy presents two major challenges to large organisations.
The first is the age old struggle between size and agility. On the one hand, corporates will want the agility that comes with easy access to highly skilled, flexible, good value people. Need some research? Want a brochure designed? Looking for somebody to organise an event? Far easier to go to Blume (or other similar but - as the Economist would no doubt confirm - inferior places) than bid for internal resources, or fiddle around with recruitment agencies or HR processes. On the other hand, large organisations worry, often legitimately, about standardizing processes to ensure uniformity and good risk management.
The second challenge is identifying what can and cannot be "gigged" – a successor to the challenge of working out what can and cannot be outsourced. Where is the 15% so authoritatively quoted at the start of the blog? I think it will emerge over time and that there will be hits and misses. I also think that the corporates that get it right first will see huge advantages. The economic advantages will drive the change but the biggest advantages will come from the improvements in quality and the satisfaction of the workforce.
We are currently talking to some large organsiations about how they can use the gig economy in the best and most responsible ways so I hope we will come up with some answers to these challenges. And hopefully you will be able to read about them in the Economist.