"Many organizations are already OK with their employees taking on side gigs, but they don't want to shift their thinking to understand that this could also be a way to bring needed skills and talent in-house when it's needed," West says. It can be difficult for C-suite leaders to relinquish the sense of control they have over their workforce and adapt to a new way of thinking.
"From where I sit, a big challenge is accepting that I don't have control over the work and the methods like I would with full-time employees, but these are highly skilled, in-demand workers and there has to be a trust factor there that the work will be completed -- often to a higher standard, because these gig workers are putting their reputation and their livelihood on the line," says Bryan Miles, CEO of eaHELP, a firm that places virtual assistants with corporate clients. If they're not as good as or better than full-time workers, they're not going to make it in a gig economy where skills and results are the deciding metrics behind a hire, he says.
"You have to stop thinking of the gig economy and these workers in the traditional way, with hierarchies, high-touch management and a chain-of-command, and that's hard for many C-level folks to do," adds West. The fact is the gig economy can actually make things easier for managers, since they don't actually have to manage the talent, they're just managing the results, he says.
IT workers benefit, too
IT workers also benefit from the gig economy, with the chance to gain new skills, as well as flexibility and greater control over their career path. At a time when their skills are in high demand and short supply, the gig economy can deliver what's most important to them where traditional corporate talent management practices have failed.
"The traditional HR approach -- astronomical pay, perks like free food, massages, you name it -- isn't taking into account what IT talent actually wants, which is skills development, flexibility, freedom," says West. Appirio's survey results revealed that IT workers are more likely to leave a job because of a lack of flexibility than because of complaints about compensation, and that's something the gig economy provides in spades.
"At different times in a worker's life they're going to have different priorities, different values. Are you going to be able to work from home and make your own schedule? Are you going to be able to take your child to their doctor's appointment or attend their baseball game? It depends on your own priorities, but we hear so much more that flexibility and freedom is what matters most," says Miles.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.