Gig Within Organizations

Posted 1-Oct -2019

Until a few years ago, it was a common belief that the research and development (R&D) labs were the only places within organizations where gigs were done. This was because R&D was the only area where employees worked on things other than their existing products. They were involved with either improving the existing ones or creating something entirely new especially in industries like pharmaceuticals, etc. When we look at organizations that are renowned for their innovations, for instance, 3M, many of their best-selling products including the Post-It notes have been a chance outcome of such gigs.

However, in recent years, the nature and scope of the gig worker have changed, in the context of an organization. Internal gigs are no longer about doing things that are not subject to the same deadlines and work pressures as compared to the rest of a company’s business activities. It is also no longer about a short-term involvement with something different within an organization, or about improving skills or even imparting your skills to other colleagues.

In the modern-day scenario, a gig needed within an organization is also an opportunity open to outsiders who can be called upon to perform the task when required. Thus, while internal resources can always be utilized, an organization that is truly comfortable with the ‘gig channel’ will not hesitate to source talent from outside. For some companies, the benefits are far-reaching and not just limited to greater output in terms of time and cost savings that a temporary worker offers.

Gigs also result in the infusion of fresh ideas as the hired resource might bring in a different perspective on topics beyond the task assigned, and it can also be an opportunity for the company to get the pulse of the prevalent skill trends and availability in the market. In today’s dynamic business environment, it can be highly damaging for an organization if it suddenly faces a skill shortage, especially when it needs them for an urgent project.

One of the unexpected benefits of gigs has been the ability of certain organizations to retain high-quality talent. In roles where the physical presence or close interactions are not necessary, companies have adopted a work-from-home culture. For instance, this has given them the ability to retain top-performing women employees, who had to otherwise leave the job due to motherhood or marriage.

In fact, a well-organized gig friendly organization even categorizes its employees based on their skills, to draw upon a specific skill-set whenever it is needed. I recall an exception case where an organization was not able to find an Arabic translator at a short notice for a VIP visitor. They kept sweating at it until someone pointed out that one of their HR executives was born and brought up in an Arab nation and was proficient in the language! Organizations that are open to gigs, also have a more inclusive work culture as they empower their employees to find the best solutions even if that requires hiring a gig worker when the internal resources are inadequate to meet the requirement.

Google is renowned for the 20 percent ‘thinking’ time it gives to its employees, but there are other smart organizations as well that make their employees take up gig roles of training their colleagues or new joiners. At times, such resources are ‘loaned’ to group firms for a particular skill. In recent times, firms that face manpower pressure have been known to encourage their employees to turn into entrepreneurs and work as a vendor to the firm. Such things give the firms greater flexibility and the employees make a smooth transition into entrepreneurship and a wider career horizon. There have been numerous instances of such captive BPOs that have gone on to become highly successful, independent companies.

Simply said, organizations that have made gigs an integral part of their work culture are usually more agile and have more empowered employees. Most importantly, they can keep pace with evolving markets and needs. It is a combination that can always be relied upon to make superior business sense.

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