The work environment within an enterprise has changed drastically in recent years. Thanks to modern technology, enterprises operate and compete on a global scale, and employees can work and collaborate from just about anywhere. Work is also more team-based and collaborative, and a huge percentage of job growth is from independent contractors.
Survey research conducted by economists Lawrence Katz of Harvard University and Alan Krueger at Princeton University shows that from 2005 to 2015 nearly all of the 10 million jobs created were not the traditional nine-to-five employment.
“We find that 94% of net job growth in the past decade was in the alternative category,” said Krueger. “And over 60% was due to the [rise] of independent contractors, freelancers and contract company workers.”
Many have coined the economy we are now in as the “gig economy.” Independent contractors can choose to work on temporary gigs and projects from around the world, while enterprises can select the best individuals for specific projects and tasks from a global pool.
By bringing in independent contractors versus hiring full-time employees, enterprises save resources in terms of benefits, office space and training. Enterprises also have the ability to contract with experts for specific projects who might be too high-priced to employ as a full-time employee.
From the independent contractor perspective, many of these individuals see the gig economy as an opportunity to have more variety and improve their work-life balance. Both variety and work-life balance are important for millennials who represent the largest segment of the American workforce and are least likely to stay at a full-time job for more than a year.
HR teams are always tasked with hiring and retaining the best employees in the marketplace. However, the rise in alternative work – work as an independent contractor – presents a new set of challenges for HR teams, which can disrupt the work environment.
Intuit predicts that by the year 2020, 40% of U.S. workers will be independent contractors. This means that HR managers will need to place greater emphasis on hiring the resource they need “right now” who has specialized skills versus hiring “the right” candidate with a well-rounded resume.
HR will also need to pay attention to the potential disruption independent contractors can have on the workplace culture. Bringing on more independent contractors can dilute the existing culture as the brand is no longer represented by employees who are committed to the firm’s mission, vision and core values.
Lastly, with independent contract work, projects are even more likely to be spread across geographically dispersed teams. This can create greater logistical challenges as full-time employees and independent contractors attempt to collaborate on projects.
While technology has created the gig economy, technology also has the power to help HR teams and enterprises mitigate or even prevent this new dynamic from negatively impacting the work environment. Video and content collaboration solutions are platforms that can help HR teams with bringing on the right talent, communicating brand attributes, and improving collaboration among project teams.
Reducing the time it takes to bring on quality talent has never been as important for HR teams as it is today. Integrating video conferencing technology greatly improves the quality and time it takes to bring on talent as independent contractors can interact with HR managers face-to-face without the need to travel.
The use of video conferencing technology can also help HR teams cast a geographically wider talent net, and video interviews can be recorded and archived for later access. This enables companies to access stored video interviews when ready as these candidates are essentially pre-screened allowing HR teams to act quickly when needing to bring on the right skill sets.
To prevent a disruption to the workplace culture, employee-generated internal videos can be leveraged to exemplify and communicate brand attributes to independent contractors. Help Scout, a popular web-based help desk designed for a great customer experience, is an example of a company that uses video for effective internal collaboration to enhance employee relationships and culture among their remote work teams. A similar approach can be used by enterprises to relay critical information that keeps independent contractors in the loop and closer to the full-time employees as work is being performed on projects.
Lastly, video conferencing technologies enable independent contractors and employees to collaborate face-to-face in real-time. While no technology will ever be able to replicate an actual conversation or interaction in-person, video is the closest alternative that can keep communication flowing. And video collaboration doesn’t need to just occur within a conference room either as employees and contractors can interact on their desktop or mobile devices.
The gig economy will more than likely result in a drastic increase of independent contractors as a percentage of the total workforce. HR teams and enterprises, however, can use video and content collaboration solutions to ensure they bring on the right talent, avoid disruption to the existing culture, and ensure teams continue to collaborate smoothly.