You may have heard the astounding statistic that 80% of the global workforce is deskless—meaning they’re workers whose core job responsibilities take place away from a desk and a computer.
That 80% is made up of almost 3 billion people, working across all kinds of industries including transportation, logistics, retail, sales, and more. One unique place you’ll find lots of deskless workers is in the gig economy: the broad sphere of work in which workers function as independent contractors.
Managing deskless workers in the gig economy comes with challenges and hurdles you won’t find anywhere else.
What is the Gig Economy?
While the gig economy can be somewhat hard to define, Investopedia describes it as a space in which “flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend to hire independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees.”
Think Uber and Lyft drivers, dog walkers, and (increasingly) some graphic design and digital marketing jobs. Most of the jobs posted on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr are also examples of the gig economy.
A common view of gig economy jobs is that they’re second-rate—the kind of jobs you’d only take if you had no other option. But that’s not true. Many workers, especially in younger generations, prefer gig-based jobs because they offer greater flexibility and multiple sources of income. It’s also important to note that many gig economy jobs are as lucrative as common desk-based jobs, and that they’re a valuable addition to a traditional economy because of the healthy competition they create.
The gig economy is here to stay, and its workforce deserves the same respect and dedication employers would provide to any other.
Challenges for Deskless Workers in the Gig Economy
While there are many reasons working gig-based jobs are unique, a few are particularly key for employers to recognize when hiring gig workers.
Even when gigs are consistent—like driving for Uber in a major city—they feel different than traditional jobs. No job is ever totally secure, but gig-based jobs can feel particularly unstable. Gig workers face the constant need to perform well and find additional work. While more traditional full-time jobs have parallels to this, it’s a mistake to view the pressures as identical.
Along with general instability, gig-based jobs typically include more variable income. Gig workers face this challenge—and the resulting stress—almost every day. If, for example, there aren’t as many Uber rides available for pickup or the dog doesn’t need walking because his family is on vacation, a gig worker’s income may dip for a day, a week, or more.
This can make gig workers’ continued ability to provide quality service challenging. If an Uber driver’s income dips for some time because demand lessens or their car breaks down, they’re still responsible for paying their rent, insurance, and car payment. It’s not hard to imagine the stress this might cause!
Lack of Benefits
Workers in the gig economy face a challenge familiar to plenty of other workers: lack of common benefits like health, dental, and retirement plans.
The lack of benefits for gig workers is a unique challenge. Gig workers need to earn enough money to pay for their insurance and retirement out of pocket, while also facing the work instability and variable income described above.
3 Ways to Equip Gig Economy Workers for Success
Some gig workers choose to work gig-based jobs because they value flexibility. Others work them because they have no other options. Whatever the case may be at your company, there are several things you can do to set up your gig-based deskless worker for success.
Empathize With Them
As mentioned above, one of the essential differences between a worker in the gig economy and a more traditional employee is that the gig worker is doing just that—working a gig. Even if those gigs are consistent and readily available, they’re still categorically different from traditional jobs with traditional paychecks.
Your gig workers deal with unique stressors around stability and future work.
As someone hiring gig workers, you can help them navigate those challenges in lots of different ways. For example, by simply being clear that you’re willing to provide continued work if they perform well, you can ease a burden and create a stronger working relationship. And this can have lots of positive effects such as:
● Better customer experience
● Cost savings from less turnover
● Easier recruitment
Another step employers can take to help gig workers is to recommend services designed for them.
If you know your gig workers struggle to find the financing they need to perform their work, referring them to a service like COVERR—which provides financial services customized for gig workers—can be like throwing them a lifeline. By using alternative metrics to assess value and daily micropayments for loan repayment, COVERR’s service is adaptable to the uniqueness of the gig economy. “Since earnings can be highly volatile in the gig economy”, COVERR CEO Kobina Ansah recently told Anthill, “these tactics allow us to be more in tune with the changes our clients are going through.”
Being empathetic toward your gig workers and the unique challenges they face is a win-win from every angle.
Use the Right Technology
Despite their massive numbers, the deskless workforce has long been underserved by technology. The fact that 45% of deskless workers don’t have a company email doesn’t mean they need less technology, it means they need better technology.
Anthill is one company working to provide that better technology. With two-way, 24/7 communication and access to employee software via text message, Anthill allows deskless workers to have the same sense of connection to the whole that every employee should have.
You can book a free demo today to try it out!
Making the right investments in technology makes everyday life easier for your gig workers. If your goal is a smooth experience and high levels of performance, you need to make sure your gig workers can easily access the company information they need to do their jobs.
Even with the right technology, good communication can still be difficult.
In spite of those difficulties, communicating well is worth every ounce of energy you put toward it. 84% of deskless workers don’t think they get enough communication from top management, so prioritizing communication with gig workers can be a great way to set yourself apart.
Gig Workers Need Your Help
When it’s all said and done, COVERR CEO Kobina Ansah is right: to get the best performance out of your gig-based deskless workforce, you need to improve their quality of life and make sure they’re happy working for you.
Using gig-based workers can bring benefits for both employers and workers, but it only works when you create a sustainable, quality experience for your workers. Implement these tips and, over time, you’ll transform the experience for your gig workers.