If you need any evidence to show that the Australian gig workforce is alive and growing, just take a walk down the CBD during the day and watch the brightly attired food delivery riders from Deliveroo and Foodora zipping through the traffic.
These riders are part of the growing Australian gig workforce and it is showing no sign of abating. In 2015, 32 percent of Australia’s workforce participated in some kind of freelance work and recent labour force data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics also showed a continued increase in part-time employment for the past six months.
With 50 percent of our workforce projected to be working for themselves by 2020 and gig work becoming more and more popular, employers have to face the new issue of how to manage a blended workforce in which gig workers (freelance workers) and full time employees team up and complete projects together.
To overcome these challenges, managers need to improve teamwork and help all everyone work together. Here are a few simple but effective things you can do:
Set working hours
The way gig workers and employees work are at odds. While most employees work set hours from one location, gig workers can, and like to, work at any time and from any place. They may work odd hours and their schedule might change from day to day, or they might not be tied down by hours at all, as most likely they are only required to turn in their work on time.
But if gig workers are working together with full time employees, setting hours are more important. When working on a team, both gig workers and employees need to know when everyone will be available to collaborate, when everyone can be reached for questions, and when to expect completed projects.
Although gig workers value flexible work:
- Set a schedule for gig workers and keep everyone updated on their working hours, and;
- Make sure there are at least a few hours of overlap when gig workers and full time employees are working at the same time to make collaboration possible.
Facilitate better communication
Communication is a huge factor in the success of any team, but it’s especially important in a blended workforce where team members may never actually work face-to-face.
The use of email seems to be the natural choice for communication but most gig managers would agree that it is not the most efficient tool for keeping up with their blended workforce because of the lack of immediate feedback. Your full time employees and gig workers need tools that allow them to collaborate and communicate in real-time to avoid the back and forth of email.
I suggest trying tools like Slack or Trello instead. I have used Slack for some time now and I highly recommend you check it out. All communications within Slack happen in one place and can be segmented by creating channels for various topics. You can assign your gig workers and employees to as many (or as few) channels as you need in order to keep topics visible to the team members you want to see any individual topic.
Establish clear responsibilities
In the office, employees can hash out who is doing what, and can always check in with one another on what others are doing. But a blended workforce doesn’t have that luxury. And when tasks are unclear, major delays and stress can strike.
To ensure clear responsibilities are set:
- At the start of projects, clearly define who will be doing what;
- Get the whole team together in a conference call to set expectations, go over deadlines, and outline how the project will progress from start to finish, and;
- Constantly communicate (through a tool like Slack) to ensure everyone is properly updated on everything all at the same time.
Full time employees understand the company mission and vision (or they should anyway) and they are familiar with day-to-day working processes but this may not be so for gig workers.
Gig workers usually will have been engaged without any on-boarding or training and simply start on day one working the way they always have and using their own processes. This might lead to clashes in working styles and result in delays in the project.
Although gig workers are experts in their field they are not experts on your company. Before gig workers start working on the same team as your full time employees, give them a crash course on company standards, guidelines, and even a quick brief on the preferred communication style between employees. That way, everyone is on the same page and speaking the same language when collaborating on projects.
These are just some of the ways a business can go about preparing themselves for the rising gig workforce. Over here at Rounded, we are very interested in getting further into the heart of the gig economy and we are running a Our Working Future survey to find the answers to better gig worker management and more effective business planning. Take an important role in shaping the outcomes of the survey and we look forward to sharing our findings with you.
This article is sponsored by Rounded.