in business building

The data in support of the Gig economy is astounding. Per a study by NACO:

The share of the U.S. workforce in the gig economy rose from 10.1 percent in 2005 to 15.8 percent in 2015.1 In 2016, 24 percent of Americans reported earning some money from the “digital platform economy” during the previous year (2015).2 The number of self-employed individuals (many of whom are independent workers in the gig economy) soared by over 19 percent from 2005 to 2015, with great variation across the country. “The number of people working on-demand [gig] jobs will grow from 3.9 million Americans in 2016 to 9.2 million by 2021.”

While I’ve always paid close attention to this trend I’ve given very little thought to the opportunity around Employees with greater flex. 

Employees with greater flex

Many employees today have very flexible schedules. And they can and often work around the clock. They check emails first and last thing every day (5am and 10pm, which most would not consider working hours), they are semi-available on weekends, vacations are not really true vacations if you manage customers or a large customer base, etc. You get my point. Essentially workers today are “always on” as technology and infrastructure has made this possible. 

Many abhor this trend and it certainly can have negative effects if not managed.

The flip side to being always on is to be “off at anytime” and work from where ever you’d like. 

A flex-day may start at 6am with calls or logging into the corporate server to work on a project. They may take a quick break from 8-9 to have breakfast with the family and help get the kids ready for school, sometimes having the luxury to actually take them to school. They could be in the office until 3, heading home to beat rush hour and finish the day from there….although many will likely catch up on a few emails and finish a few things after the kids are in bed. Flex workers spend more time being productive and less time running to and from where the infrastructure is. It’s win-win and numerous studies have documented the positive effects on corporate productivity and employee satisfaction from providing flex-work options. 

Flex workers typically work at all hours but have the ability to be off at anytime. They may schedule medical appointments in the middle, using their cell phones to stay productive except the 15 minutes spent with the MD. They may attend their child’s ballet class on Wednesday at 3pm because they can catch up later in the day and answer urgent mails while in the room (which many unfortunately do….myself included). Always on has a nice flip side: You have the luxury to be off at anytime.

It’s obviously something that’s been growing forever and companies like Cisco have enabled this persona, but I don’t know what other offerings have been created to serve the specific needs of this workforce. 

As the ability to work anywhere and at anytime grows I wonder what type of new opportunities arise from this trend? I think there may be an opportunity to identify some neat ideas for this growing market.