The Gig Economy is an exciting place to be and with it comes a whole new dawn of opportunities and change. What gigCMO proposes is not to have an answer to every question but to provide a method by which you can bend, flex and flow with inevitable change in working culture.

Of course, we are not the only ones who will have to change. If the way we work and recruit changes, then so too must the way we manage risk, insure against critical illness, fund maternity and paternity leave, look after healthcare, assess for mortgages and loans, and even define old age. Those are things that we will have to address as businesses, individuals and also at state level.

As the way in which we work continues to evolve, the way we support our workers will be exposed as fundamentally flawed. We believe the market is changing and in response, the state will have to follow.

Should we pool risk?

When is retirement age? What does it mean to be ‘old’? And who’s responsible for who? The boundaries between what used to be a clear way of being are changing before our eyes, and so too must the way we respond. If you apply for a mortgage you need to demonstrate an income. As a bank in a world of gig workers, how will you decide what to lend? What will you do with a successful gig worker with an unstable income?

The Financial Times has reported that a number of businesses are already taking these questions into consideration and finding solutions by pooling risk. “Social insurance is one such area in which there is more room for entrepreneurial ventures as opposed to state bureaucracies,” it says, citing localised French fraternal systems in the late 1800s that “could not scale up to the point where the entire population would be covered” and therefore required state management.

Of course, the reality was that the localised systems were very effective in their areas because of a sense of community. What we are seeing in some areas now is the rise of a new type of community, or what the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan calls “cloud communities”, based on people who could be geographically distant but who are very close in terms of profile and interests.

Do more solutions lie in the new working ecosystem?

The article’s crux was to look into the welfare state for the entrepreneurial age, and this way of thinking raises interesting questions and opportunities for us all. It’s a perspective that of course has already been raised at a fairly base or negative level so far with criticism about the lack of employee rights for a gig worker, but in essence it is not a lack but a change and in many ways the full story is as yet unwritten because it is changing the fabric of how we work.

We live in an ageing population with an eternally rising age of retirement. The Gig Economy provides a solution for employment at all levels by leaving positions open to a new generation of workers, whilst providing an effective role for more experienced members of the team in a capacity that suits them. It is another facet of a recruitment ecosystem whereby the senior gig worker balances out experience and training with younger, next generation team members – so you have the energy, generational relevance and experience all integrated into workforce spanning age 18-85.

So leading on from that, is there another way this ecosystem could help us support our workers and our businesses? All workers need support at different life stages, whether expected or not. Will companies get together and create combined parental cover insurance options for themselves and their teams? Will new companies arrive and pool money to provide a level of support regardless of what situation the gig worker is in? Instead of going to a life insurance provider and a separate health insurance company, will a new company emerge where you can draw down funds when you need them and for whatever you need them for? How will the state predict tax payments over a lifetime with inconsistent peaks and troughs of work?

The truth is these are questions with no answers at the moment, but people are working flexibly because it works for both them and the businesses they want to serve, so by necessity the structures around us need to respond, both public and private.

Key points

  • How are you going to support your gig workers in this changing economy as employee rights strive to catch up with changing business practices?
  • A strategic use of experienced gig workers and younger team members can help balance energy, generational relevance and experience into an integrated workforce of all ages.
  • Consider the opportunities to work with other organisations to support this creative pool of gig workers.

READ CHAPTER 9: A changing world

©gigCMO First published  April 2018