Capitalizing on the Big Benefits of a Growing Gig Economy

video marketingWho could have predicted the rapid expansion of remote work and the “gig economy”? While the gig economy had already been making the news due to the emergence of companies like Uber and Lyft prior to the pandemic, the pandemic had had a significant impact on how companies are using and will continue to use remote workers in the future.

I’ve been a member of the “gig economy” since 2008 when I started Strategic Communications, LLC. Even prior to that, I had several years of experience working as a freelance writer for a variety of trade and professional publications. So I’ve been involved in remote work for quite some time. In addition, I have long had an interest in telecommuting. I wrote a book on telecommuting for Self-Counsel Press several years ago. Last year, during the pandemic, they asked me to update the book—Managing Remote Workers—which was re-released in an entirely new version in November. As you might imagine, sales this time around have already far surpassed sales of the books I wrote back in 2010.

The Pandemic’s Impact on Remote Work

The impact of the pandemic has been significant. In March 2020, suddenly businesses of all types all around the country realized that they could function with employees working remotely. Back then many literally had to allow this option or be forced to shut down. I was absolutely amazed at how quickly this concept took hold having been a proponent of telecommuting for years! It’s a trend that is likely to continue.
While many employees are being called back to their physical workplaces now that pandemic fears are subsiding, others have been told that they will be able to (or forced to) continue to work remotely—some permanently. For instance, I used to work with a large healthcare system and recently attended a retirement party for a former colleague. My former coworkers told me that they are all going to be continuing to work remotely and, literally, won’t have a physical location assigned to them to return to (they’ll be able to reserve space on a temporary basis if they need to come in for meetings, etc). I would never have anticipated that shift prior to the pandemic.
Suddenly we all realize that yes, we can, work remotely just as effectively and efficiently—if not more so—than we could work in a physical environment. In fact, as my former colleagues were telling me, while they feel a little lonely and disconnected sometimes, they’re far more productive working from home than they had been in the workplace where there are various distractions throughout the day.

Tips on Finding Success With Remote Work and Managing Remote Workers

My top two tips that I always emphasize are communication and accountability. While both are also important in physical environments, they’re even more important when working with remote staff. Staff need to know what is expected of them and how their productivity will be measured (based on output, not hours worked). Managers and supervisors need to communicate with staff regularly, through a variety of channels, while also allowing opportunities for them to connect with others—whether onsite or off.

Skills Needed for Successful Remote Work

Any job that doesn’t require face-to-face interaction with others is a candidate for remote work. I’d emphasize here that employers also need to think critically and be objective about whether certain jobs really do require face-to-face interaction. Sometimes we assume this is required when, in reality, it may not be. Two prime examples are education and healthcare. Remote learning was in place prior to the pandemic but is now being embraced even more broadly. In healthcare, telemedicine is really talking off for certain types of physician/patient interactions. In fact, I recently participated in my first virtual appointment after having a reaction to my second COVID vaccine. It was fast, efficient and it worked very well for me.
In my opinion, the only type of job that really can’t (yet) be done remotely would be manufacturing jobs that require employees to be physically operating machines or working with tangible products. Technology may even make this possible in the not-too-distant future.

Big Benefits of the Gig Economy—For Businesses and Workers

The gig economy offers a wide range of opportunities for both businesses and workers—businesses can save money on office space and will also being able to recruit from a much broader geography. This will be especially beneficial when attempting to fill positions that are in high demand and scarce supply. Employees benefit from more flexibility in where and when they work—many are taking advantage of the trend toward “workations” — since they can work from anywhere, why not from some resort destination during the middle of winter?
In most cases, based on the interactions I’ve had with businesses and HR experts, it seems as though companies will be moving toward a “hybrid” work environment, where some employees will be on-site and others will work remotely. Sometimes this will be a 100% work arrangement; in other cases employees will come in to work physically a few days a week and work from home on other days. While I don’t think in-person work will entirely go away—after all, many employees prefer the opportunity to interact in-person with their colleagues—I do think it will continue to popular and prevalent for most companies in the future.
How is your workplace currently operating? Do you anticipate changes moving forward? Do you prefer remote, in-person or some hybrid format for staffing? Why?

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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Managing Remote Staff: Capitalize on Work-from-Home Productivity

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