Leadership in the gig economy

The past weeks I’ve been having a couple of threads on Linkedin regarding on what’s happening in labor market, and what will happen. The discussions that followed could be summarized into three cagtegories:

  • Working hours
  • Remote work
  • Culture

Which all of them is really tied to the leadership. The leadership in this case is not only linked to the hiring manager or the organization, there’s also leadership responsibility of the Gigger for success in their gigs.

The gig economy is happening in a fast pace, and is here to stay. Patrick Petitti, co-CEO of Catalant Technologies point it out like this:

The way that people have worked traditionally is honestly kind of depressing… The fact that you had to have a company tell you what to do, when do it, where to it, just isn’t right. We live in a world of technology where people should be able to work on the things they care about and they should have more control over how they live. 

Working hours

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A hot topic at your workplace? Working 9-5 seems to be a bit old fashioned, don’t you agree? Yes when you work in the assembly line and the rest of the line is dependent on you, then of course its needed. And ff course there’s a lot of other jobs where you truly need to be there between two specific times.

But to be honest, are you always your BEST yourself all of those hours between 9-5? Do they really fit your own personal life? I heard from a gigger last week:

People don’t quit their day-to-day job to join the gig economy to work the traditional 9-5 hours.

FLEXIBILITY is the word we’re looking for. The gigs are all about flexibility. It’s a true cultural clash when the employees obey the hour rule, and the Gig worker wants to work its flexible and creative hours.

To add a different dimension to this, the length of a contract is varies as well. Sometimes the manager/leader gets to know the bigger, and sometimes they don’t. So how do you lead a project, team, a Gig worker, and an organization with all this flexibility?

My advice to the leader

  • Embrace the change. Accept it. People are more effective other hours than you are. There’s a reason you want just that person, right?
  • Set your expectations early on:
    • What you want to learn from the gig, and benefit the organization when its over.
    • How you include the gigger in your daily operations.
    • Balancing your different working hours and time zones, find your joint best solution.
  • Don’t micro manage, but set up regularly feedback session.
  • Partner up and work together to achieve the common goal.

My advice to the Gig worker

  • Accept that not all are familiar with a flexible working schedule.
  • Find the balance of routines (gym, breakfast/lunch/work). At least try to keep a regular schedule for your client, you make their world a lot more easy to lead you.
  • Blow the whistle early if you find out that you’re not able to keep the deadline.
  • Be transparent with the amount of work you put in.

Remote work

To the flexibility dimension of the gig economy comes remote work as well. I know that (at least in Sweden) a lot of organizations are really good in letting their employees working from home or other preferred locations, once in a while or on a regular basis. The job will be done. As long as you trust your employees.

But would you pay, let say, €100/hr for a gig when you’re not able to “feel and touch” that person? Imagine if that person is doing his/her job from the beach of Bali. They job gets done, but can you trust this? Is your leadership skills ready for it? In my opinion be as ready as you can, and/or develop your remote leadership skills.

The War for Talents is over, and Talent Won….

Today, when the technological revolution happens in a super sonic speed, can you really expect that someone will learn your language, move to your country, and stay there for 6-24 moths for your gig? Niched and highly skilled giggers knows their value. If you can’t lead through remote and don’t accept it, they will turn down your project and find a better match. Not only that, highly skilled giggers is a scarce resource, due to the Digitalization that happens everywhere. “Everybody” needs the “same” competence at the exactly the same time.

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My advice to the leader

  • You must prepare for leading individuals/teams remotely. It will soon be a fact, unless it is already.
  • Rather call than email, or other preferred tools. But communicate in person.
  • Try to get to know the person that is doing your gig, to be able to gain trust and commitment.
  • Clarify your expectations on check-ins, feedback, and deadlines.

My advice to the Gig worker

  • Invest in good Internet connection, and good collaboration tools.
  • Make sure to not isolate yourself. Go to go meet-ups, hire an office on hourly basis. Meet other people in your situation. Network!
  • Have routines on your remote work, don’t postpone what needs to be done today to tomorrow.
  • Make sure to have an “office space”, to not mix up your private life and your gig life. Have your own dedicated working space.

Culture

Culture is really important in organizations, no matter the size. Strong cultures makes your company stand out in the crowd, makes people want to work for you, makes people more productive. Or as Peter Drucker said:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

The culture does not disappear just because you hire a gigger. It’s still very important. And a bit more complicated, since you want to transfer this culture into someone that is only employed on a contract. And the gigger on the other hand maybe left the corporate employment culture, to find its on luck. And of course is also influenced by different cultures from past gigs.

A big chunk (at least in a near future) of the gig economy will consist of Millenials. With of course has a lot of challenges. I summarized the Millenials with Mr. Simon Sinek:

My advice to the leader

  • Express your organizations purpose and culture.
  • Pay for drive and competence, not for the age. Of course, you need to ask what drives the gigger.
  • Have the courage to talk about the giggers future gig aspirations.
  • Even though you pay to get a problem solved, mentoring the gigger for his/her future success and also to embrace your culture.
  • Look for giggers that fits your culture.

My advice to the Gig worker

  • Work on your own culture, what you want to express.
  • Find gigs with a similar culture, you’ll probably do a better job in those.
  • Ask why you where hired, when you’re hired of course. Your’e selling yourself so it’s rather important to understand why they buy.
  • Focus on the person talking to you, and not the rest of the Internet.

Conclusion

Working hours, remote work and culture were the main topics from my past weeks discussion regarding the gig economy, therefore I wanted to bring up the leadership needed from both parties (organization and gig worker). In summary, your leadership style:

  • Be open minded and flexible
  • Embrace the change
  • Lead without borders
  • Make sure to have a good Internet connection
  • Be clear and transparant on your expectations
  • Culture is important

Do you agree with my assumptions? Having your own experience based on those three subjects? What’s your best advice to the leader/gig worker?

Share your story. 

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