Gig Economy Underscores Need for Operational Agility
In Today’s Gig Economy, It’s Essential to Be Nimble and Quick
“Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Jack jump over the candlestick.” Those are the opening lines of an English nursery rhyme first published in 1815. If written today, the opening lines could be:
We all must be nimble.
We all must be quick.
We all must jump over our own yardstick.
To reach growth and profitability goals, many companies in a wide variety of industries – field service organizations included – have long embraced outsourcing to independent contractors, freelancers, contingency workers and so-called “gig workers” when they’ve needed to scale up quickly to handle large projects or to fill in when employees are assigned elsewhere or otherwise unavailable.
The most commonly cited reasons that business owners give for hiring outside resources relate to the flexibility it gives them: They can hire quickly, they pay only for work performed, and they avoid complicated paperwork that’s typically required when hiring full-time employees.
Today’s so-called “gig economy” got its start decades ago.
An article in The New York Times (August 19, 2018) reported that the gig economy is a movement that has been at least 40 years in the making. Consider these statistics presented in the article:
- 94% of net new jobs appear outside traditional employment
- Approximately one-third of workers – and half of all young workers – participate in this alternative world of work, either as a primary or a supplementary source of income
Other experts cite similar statistics, and most expect the gig economy will continue expanding. Not to overwhelm the reader with statistics, but to make the point, consider a few findings from Deloitte’s “2018 Human Capital Trends,” which suggest the trend will continue for at least the next two years. Deloitte surveyed 11,000 business and HR leaders from around the world and identified these trends:
- 37% anticipate growth in the use of outside contractors
- 33% expect an increase in freelancers
- 28% predict an increase in gig workers
Regardless of what they’re called – temporary workers, contingent workers, contractors, freelancers or gig workers – it’s clear these types of workers are available and ready to roll if and when they’re called upon. How can field service organizations take full advantage of the easy availability of these workers? And what are the pitfalls to avoid?
Consider the best and worst things about the gig economy.
On a positive note, in almost all markets there are plenty of qualified, fully vetted temporary workers who are eager to participate in projects when they’re called upon. In most areas, there are multiple agencies that vet these outside human resources, which helps ease some of the angst associated with putting workers in the field to represent the companies that hire them.
But on a slightly negative note, how in the world do companies onboard these types of workers with speed and efficiency?
- How are these workers trained on the technology, systems and processes in place, and on the company’s culture and commitment to customer service?
- How can these workers hit the ground running and do what they’re hired to do?
- How can companies ensure that confidential information stays confidential?
- How can companies ensure a successful experience for these workers so they do not leave negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor?
Going back to the Deloitte study, apparently many companies are uncertain about onboarding outside resources, as the following statistics indicate:
- Only 16% have established set practices and policies for “non-traditional” workers
- Only 32% of those surveyed said they track the quality of contract work
- Only 29% track compliance with contract terms
- Less than half (45%) provide these workers with training
- Just over half (54%) offer formal onboarding
While it can be challenging and time-consuming to onboard temporary workers in today’s gig economy, it is not rocket science. Every company engaging with these types of workers needs a plan.
“You can’t have these individuals not understanding your company’s mission, vision, values, how you want the customer experience to be felt. So, then the question becomes, how do you onboard these individuals in a way that they will reflect those values in every interaction they have with customers? Otherwise, you’re hurting your brand.”
Erica Volini, Deloitte’s U.S. human capital leader and co-author of the Human Capital Trends report (“Fast Company,” June 27, 2018)
Regardless of the types of projects these workers are engaged in and regardless of how long they’re going to spend on the job, there needs to be a process in place to ensure a positive experience for all involved: the company, the temporary workers themselves and customers.
Become nimble and quick with the right tools and techniques.
In 2018, it’s no longer acceptable to manage field service subcontractors – or your own employees, for that matter – with a simple Excel file and printed work orders. Today, you need to empower your field service organization with a mobile solution that helps ensure a great experience for your customers, regardless of who shows up at their door.
Treating subcontractors as an extension of your own team not only helps sustain the integrity of your company and protects the relationships you’ve worked so hard to build, it also helps send a message to these temporary workers that they are valued.
A mobile solution like Gomocha’s FMP360 provides the critical link that connects the back office with everyone in the field. Perhaps even more important, FMP360 facilitates seamless communication between everyone in the organization and your customers. Equipped with a robust mobile solution, field service crews can deliver first-time fixes with efficiency and precision. The result is happy customers and greater profitability.
FMP360 makes it easy to onboard subcontractors.
Onboarding field service subcontractors can be as uncomplicated as training them on how to use the platform. It’s a dynamic, easy-to-configure (and reconfigure) digital solution – one that has been designed with “nimble and quick” in mind. Within a day or two, these workers will be up and running, equipped with everything they need to perform efficiently and professionally in the field.
- They can download the FMP360 app onto their own devices so they don’t have to learn how to use a new device.
- They can be instructed how to receive work orders, register time and materials and request assistance when needed.
- They can be briefed on customer-facing processes so they represent your brand in accordance with your culture and customer service protocols.
- They can be given access to only the information you need them to see.