5 Things Executives Need To Know About The Gig Economy

This article was first published in The Huffington Post on May 27, 2016.

The Uber economy and related growth in income precariousness is a pressing social and cultural issue and one that needs more innovative thinking and action.

But there's another side to the labor disruption underway: for highly skilled professionals, consultants, knowledge workers, and accomplished executives -- the gig economy offers the opportunity for an unprecedented level of career control and satisfaction.

Increasingly, the cradle to grave career is disappearing, retirement is being rewritten, and the desire to better integrate life and work is growing.

Simultaneously, companies are realizing that hiring outside of the full-time structure also enables them to nimbly engage in a global talent pool, leverage specialty skills, and better manage cost to results.

It was our shared experiences on both these fronts (trying to better structure our own careers and experiencing hiring challenges as business owners), which led us to launch Kahuso.

What we found is that to make the most of the opportunities emerging, individuals need to understand five core principles of the executive gig economy.

These include:

1. The traditional employer/employee relationship is disappearing.

Industry disruptions, the volatility of economic cycles, and the rate of change increasingly means that both job security and optimal opportunities are unlikely to come from just one industry, role, or employer.

Consequently the shift is towards individuals structuring and viewing their career as simultaneously occurring across many organizations versus just focusing on one employer.

Practically, this kind of career can be structured in any number of ever changing forms, among them: back to back gigs, a full-time role with an advisory position, two to three projects or consulting gigs with different organizations, or an interim role alongside an advisory position.

2. The Gig Economy Is Reconfiguring Retirement

Increasingly, completely leaving the workforce is no longer either desirable or relevant to how we want to work, live, and age.

The gig economy allows, individuals to swap out their full-time senior role for a more flexible option - one that provides income, social engagement, and mental stimulation alongside the time to travel and work at a different pace or in a different place.

3. The Gig Economy Is Driven By Necessity: On Both Sides

For many, initial entry into the gig economy is out of necessity: downsizing means the full-time role they had no longer exists, securing the next full-time position is taking longer than they expected, and/ or the roles they find don't provide the professional, personal, or financial components they need.

Similarly, companies are increasingly engaging talent in a freelance or contract capacity because it allows them to: benefit from global talent, seamlessly meet unexpected deadlines or take advantage of new opportunities, prevent group think, and maximize their budgets.

4. The Gig Economy Means Better Work Life Integration:

Work-life balance requires control over how and when work happens -and is the reason why, according to Bloomberg & the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20 million Americans actively choose part-time work.

These are not individuals working fewer hours because they can't find a full-time position; rather, they're engaging in a deliberate, careful work-life balance.

As most of us know, full-time roles involve conventions around face time, numerous meetings, and a template for work that can be difficult to deviate from.

Not so with the gig economy.

Employers are specifically for looking to fill the role or achieve an outcome outside of the traditional means and this allows individuals an increased level of control in terms of how and when they work.

Here roles are designed to be either finite or structured in a way that is done part time, remotely, or as a consultancy - checking in regularly but moving forward autonomously.

This control means more time for children, family, hobbies or their own startup or writing project. The ability to scale up or down as needed and without the repercussions that come with traditional employment is an incredible benefit.

5. The Gig Economy Can Help You Re-engage & Find Your Meaning:

A recent Gallup poll found that only 35% of professional workers report feeling engaged at work.

The gig economy is the ultimate antidote to the disengagement and the depressive boredom that can come with doing the same kind of work day after day.

The ability to mix up contracts, advisory roles or board-level consulting projects also allows individuals to create careers that combine their personal interests alongside a desire to contribute, but without sacrificing a professional income.

A portfolio of projects is also a low-risk means of exploring new industries or different types of organizations and sectors.

Even if venturing into the gig economy doesn't seem like an option at this time, understanding the way it works and what it offers is essential since it is steadily growing.

A recent study estimated by that 2020, more than 40% of the workforce will be made up of contingent or contract workers.

Even if the pace of change is not quite so rapid, all signs indicate that this is the future and learning how to successfully navigate it will expand your career, choices as well as professional and personal fulfillment.

Michael Carter & Caleb Rubin are the Co-Founders, Kahuso an online platform they built to help accomplished executives find part-time, interim, advisory & board opportunities.

Michael Carter & Caleb Rubin

Michael Carter & Caleb Rubin are the Co-Founders of Kahuso an online platform they built to help accomplished executives find part-time, interim, advisory & board opportunities.

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