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HCMWorks Insights

How Technology and Communication Tools have Fueled the Gig Economy

Posted by Julia Fournier on 5 Jul 2018

Technology and communication tools have helped organizations make huge leaps in the past two decades, and now they are changing workforce behaviour. Ease of communication has allowed remote and contract workers to work on their own terms, increasing the size of this pool of employees.

Earlier this month the Bureau of Labor Statistics gave the first official reading of how many workers in the US rely on temporary, freelancing and contract work. The answer is a lot. 

The report found that 16.5 million people are working in “contingent” or “alternative work arrangements”. Nearly 6 million people, 3.8 per cent of workers, held contingent jobs in the US in May. Another 10.6 million were working as independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary help agency workers and for contract firms.

Researchers estimate that the contingent workforce makes up around 30 to 40 per cent of all US workers today.

This begs the question: how have advances in technology and, more specifically, new digital communication channels helped make it easier to work as a remote team and encouraged the growth of the contingent workforce?

Communication anywhere, anytime

A contingent workforce can give your company access to specialized talent, lower labour costs, cheaper office space and rental costs and the ability to hire top talent that can help grow your business. Modern technologies and communication strategies have made hiring this workforce possible, and it’s now stronger than ever.

The ability to work from anywhere and stay connected through smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices has enabled employees to collaborate with their peers and the organizations they work for, wherever they might be. This ease of communication has created a shift in the power balance, with employees now having increased freedom of choice for who they work for, with many companies now willing to hire remote workers - often on a contract basis.

This digital workplace has been helped by developments in communication technologies, with organizations implementing solutions such as live chat, video calls, internet meetings and cloud-based intranet systems that allow their workers to work from any corner of the globe.

Workers and organizations are now becoming more comfortable working with each other over devices, rather than meeting face to face or working in an office. Today’s employees are now free to work from where they want, instead of moving to where the work is. This has resulted in organizations hiring on-demand teams that collaborate with each other when necessary, working on specific projects and offering their specialized expertise that may not be needed year-round for just one company.

The digital workforce

Developments in communication has opened new doors for the way organizations acquire, develop, manage and distribute work to employees. Meanwhile, workers have changed their beliefs on workplace culture, with the traditional office job now viewed by many as a thing of the past.

The new generation of employees now seek work that they can set their own terms for, a trend largely driven by large on-demand companies such as Uber and Lyft. These workers know how technology works, and they are comfortable using those technologies to communicate in their professional life. They want to work on their own time schedule, making room for their family and personal lives.

Organizations that want to succeed and grow must adopt these workforce changes. And these changes should carry over to their procurement and HR processes to make the most of a workforce that can provide great benefits to a company, if used in the right way.

Contingent workforce management

The effective management of a contingent workforce also requires the use of modern technologies to track, monitor, manage and pay your workforce. Digital tools will maximize productivity, decrease compliance risks and streamline operations.

Many companies turn to the help of a vendor management systems (VMS), which is an automated technology that allows you to easily and effortlessly track suppliers, contract labour and temporary workers.

These cloud-based systems offer your business the tools needed to track deliverables and hours worked, as well as analyze and measure performance. A VMS system will also allow you to forecast future needs and deal with any potential issues that may arise with your contingent workers.

Ultimately, a VMS system will allow for the proper management of your contingent workforce, resulting in decreased labour costs, increased efficiencies, better communication with your temporary workers and higher revenue.

To find out how HCMWorks can help manage your contingent workforce, contact us today!

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Tags: Contingent Workforce