Managing Blended Workforces in the Gig Economy

Over the past decade, the way the world goes to work has changed a great deal – and some may say for the worse. A growing number of people are on zero-hour contracts and firms such as Uber and Deliveroo have tried classing workers as self-employed to avoid providing holiday or sick pay.

These changes, where people are self-employed or hold a number of small jobs, are referred to as a move towards the Gig Economy. This is viewed by many as a bad thing, with many workers missing out on employment protections and rights from employers keeping them at arm’s length.

However, discussions around the Gig Economy has given rise to considerations of the Blended Workforce – in which not everyone in the workplace is on the same kind of contract. Some may be full-time, others may be part-time, freelancers, or working remotely. Provided employers are not using this as an excuse to exploit staff, allowing people to work in the way they want can only be a good thing.

However, this mix of different employees does mean employers need to ensure that everyone is treated fairly, with the needs of those on less traditional contracts fully considered.

Home Office

Understanding the needs of part-time and remote workers

Part-time and remote workers, while full employees of the company, spend either some or all of their time away from the office environment – and as a result may find themselves less integrated into teams, and less engaged with the business. Ensuring they are included and not forgotten about will be an essential part of keeping these employees motivated.

Many of these staff members will also be working from home, so be sure that they receive adequate IT support to be able to work effectively – if they are working with limited resources away from the office network, then performance can all-too-easily take a hit.

Understanding why people freelance

Being your own boss

Who wouldn’t love to be their own boss, after all? This is why many freelancers take the route that they do – to be in charge of their own work and business affairs, with the ability to choose the projects they want to work on.

Freelancers obviously can’t be immune to organisational structures and supervision while working for your company, but a degree of understanding that they can get the job done without monitoring is important – and too many catch-ups or meetings may be invasive.

Flexibility

Choosing their own hours and working from home is another massive part of freelancing – and while temporary staff will have to come into the office while working with you, it’s also important to understand that their life – particularly in regards to childcare – may be structured differently to full-time employees, and that some transitional support may be greatly appreciated.

But not everyone wants to be freelancing…

Remember, some people end up freelancing because they’ve been unable to find full-time employment elsewhere, and don’t necessarily enjoy hopping from gig to gig. It’s important to be sensitive, and try and understand your freelancers’ positions.

Freelancing

Managing your freelancers, remote and part-time workers

Ensuring freelancers feel valued

Too much difference in treatment between freelancers and full employees can be demoralising for those brought in on a temporary basis – as though they are simply hired labour, rather than valued experts bought in to help solve a problem. Make sure they are able to enjoy the same great experience of working for you that your employees do.

Keep part-time and remote workers involved

It’s important to make sure that staff who aren’t necessarily around all the time are kept up-to-date with what’s going on – ensure regular face-to-face catch-ups, as well as phone calls to check in – keep employees involved. However, remote and part-time workers will have their own routines, so it’s also important to make sure these are respected, and that coming into the office isn’t an inconvenience.

What about benefits and rewards?

For remote and part-time staff

Remote and part-time workers will likely be entitled to – and should receive – the same benefits as your other employees, perhaps with some pro-rata allowances for those who work part-time. However, be sure to consider the method of incentives and rewards – if you’re providing these in the form of in-office activities, people can easily be left out. Either keep schedules of part-time and remote workers in mind, or provide an alternative.

For freelancers

While many employers will be utilising more freelance employers to cut costs around benefits and rewards, there is an argument to be made for extending incentives to temporary staff while they are working with you.

Firstly, as we’ve discussed above, differences in treatment can be demoralising for freelancers, and receiving some of the same perks could be a simple way to help engage temporary staff.

Secondly, failing to extend a friendly welcome to freelancers may discourage the best of them from sticking around, or coming back to work with you again in the future – whether that’s on a temporary basis again, or if you’re looking to snap up some exciting talent with a full-time contract. No matter what benefits you’re offering to a full employee, a bad experience as a freelancer could still be the deciding factor in saying no.

Extending some of your incentives, benefits and rewards to freelancing staff while they are working with you could be an essential part of keeping freelancers keen, rather than taking their talents to your competitors.

Timekeeping

Benefits for employers

These changes to working practices largely seem to benefit employees – provided employers treat their staff fairly, of course.  Why should employers offer these arrangements, with benefits and employment protections in place, to staff?

Contributing to a positive workplace culture

A reputation as an organisation that allows flexibility and supports its staff while working in the way they choose is fantastic PR, and will look very inviting to top talent. Employees will also feel positive knowing they can request changes in the way they work without losing their benefits or job security – should they, for example, have children and decide to take a reduced role, need to move, or become ill in a way that makes it easier for them to work at home.

Flexibility in approaching workloads

A short-term contract can create a lot of work that generates a lot of revenue – but knowing that that work will be a one-off, and will be gone in three months means it can be difficult to justify recruiting new staff. Utilising freelancers means you can hire people to solve specific problems, with all parties understanding that it is a temporary arrangement.

New perspectives

Bringing in freelancers or allowing permanent staff to work in a way that lets them focus on other areas of their life can bring a range of new perspectives, innovation and changes to the way your organisation works. Closing the door to the blended workforce can mean closing the door to big ideas, improved processes and new ways of thinking.

Need some advice on offering incentives, rewards and benefits to staff working on a variety of different kinds of contract? Get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help.

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