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Why Gig Culture is not for all?

While researching on potential use cases of a Gig economy I stumbled upon an article that narrated the story of potential of a Gig Economy or Gig culture in an organisation. The author narrated a scenario where a company’s disengaged employee spends time on picking up small gigs that gives the person Real Satisfaction which she never gets in her work culture and job. A potential that can be harnessed to increase employee engagement and increase employee output that will help the firm in return. Author even went on to recommend a culture that allows 10-20% of time to do side gigs within the organisation to have a real sense of Workplace Actualisation.

On paper this sounds good and it sure will inspire some people to explore what can be possible and I am sure if the author is able to influence some organisation they may try it and have a limited success too, but let me share what I felt as rudimentary flaws in the approach and this can really be a ticking bomb for the organisation to get derailed from its focused approach to progress on its mission. I am not saying gig economy or gig culture is bad but before we start selling this as a silver bullet we need to understand it is not for everyone.

An Organisation

When we talk about an organisation, we loosely talk about its leadership, and its workforce that works as a cohesive unit to work on a well-defined vision and by and large everyone is working collectively to achieve that same goal. The departments are constructed to meet the needs to deliver the targets, and employees are oriented and motivated to work for the common cause.

The concept of an organisation is very old and is one of the foundations of our economy. We raise a start-up with a noble and bright idea, then we get it resources through funding, triggering the economy of scales on it. Many start-ups don’t survive but some do and they slowly grow and become living breathing entities with an encapsulated unique culture of their own.

We’re already challenging that fabric of work culture and nature of work with technological enhancements and people are becoming disengaged due to multiple factors. Some of them are:

  1. AI is threatening to take away most of the repetitive jobs
  2. Globalisation introduced distributed teams, managing them itself is a big challenge
  3. Work forces are culturally diverse, and have a hidden cultural friction embedded in some cases
  4. A workforce with a diverse age group adds its own challenges like Millennials have a more intimate relation with technology & gadgets and older generation find it difficult to connect with them

It is already an Organisation's HR department’s nightmare to keep the workforce motivated, charged up and engaged with so many variables playing their part.

What Gig Culture brings?

Gig culture introduces the flexibility to work independently on your hobbies and do something that you always wanted to do and may make a buck for it. People who opt for gig economy show certain traits that may not be there in everyone, especially if they’re involved in those gigs as their secondary work, with their main job providing the financial security the gigs give them freedom of doing something they like. As per my experience of the gig economy following traits are a must for any freelancer or person who want to succeed in a gig culture.

  1. Person has to be a self-starter
  2. Person’s talents must be in demand as gigs work on simple function of demand and supply
  3. Person must be a finisher of his gig. If you pick something and can’t finish it then you may not get work again.
  4. You should have amazing quality that you provide else your gigs may not be accepted.

Not everyone has these traits. So breeding gig culture in an organisation may end up a failed experiment as not many people may be available to participate in the gigs and organisations when realise that a certain skill is too much in demand then they may end up hiring that talent for fixing the problem, hence gig workers will lose out on it.

Also companies where we’re making teams more agile and closely knit high performing cross functional teams, gig culture will destroy whatever cohesiveness is formed in the organisation as people will look to satisfy their Workplace actualisation more than bonding with their own teams.

Lastly if someone is looking to do gigs to earn a passive income or extra cash to help them in their financial advancements, why would they take those gigs in the organisation where there is no extra pay out? Salary won’t be revised for these gigs as HR function will not be ready to do this. Hence before we get too excited to recommend Gig economy or gig culture within organisations, we must realise the use cases are far and few and we shouldn’t just jump in the well by seeing others jumping in too.

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