Global Megatrends Insight Highlights Series - Page 5

2The gig economy Flexible working is becoming more popular almost everywhere around the world. In the UK, 5 million people earn some – or all – of their income from the gig economy. Employers are recognising that in a rapidly changing global economy, agility is key. Rigid models of workforce organisation are giving way to more fluid structures that emphasise having the right skills on demand. Meanwhile, individuals are seeking greater variety and autonomy, now often approaching careers as a portfolio of gigs, rather than a linear succession of long-term jobs. Before the end of the first quarter of 2020, flexible working options, such as compressed work weeks, remote working, and flexible hours were increasingly expected by employees. Since then, COVID-19 has changed the manner in which most gig economy driven organisations operate, from no contact deliveries to increased numbers of employees working from home – with 8 million people currently working from home during the Coronavirus lockdown. While many workers around the world are yet to return to their offices, some of the big companies are already talking about making work-from-home permanent such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Mondelez, Nationwide and Barclays. Reducing their real estate footprint would not only cut their costs but also help make flexible work the new norm in the post-COVID world. The COVID-19 emergency has exposed a number of shortcomings of the current gig economy system. Companies must be more proactive in promoting flexible work options so that employees are not afraid to use them whilst also providing a higher level of assurance through a more defined social contract. The result will be improved employee experience and wellbeing, higher productivity, and a greater ability to attract and retain talented people.