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Get with the 'gig'....!

Are all Management Consultants addicted to 'gig' working....?

LinkedIn recently informed me that a former client had left her banking job and set up her own independent advisory business. I wanted to congratulate her on making that brave move (a move that many of us here at the WCoMC have also made at some stage in our professional lives). However, I was surprised that the default message that LinkedIn suggested to send was ‘Congrats on the new gig!’.

I know what a ‘new gig’ is, partly because my recent consulting work includes research on trends in the "Future of Work" for the banking sector. In the banking sector, digitalisation is expected to grow over the next 5-10 years;  machines will displace many permanent employees;  and new ways of working (i.e. ‘gig’ or short stint temporary work, rather than longer-term employment), is a widely-predicted trend. However, I was surprised that this phrase had made its way into standard LinkedIn dialogue quite so quickly, when I know that many people (including my husband, a very intelligent and normal UK citizen), still have no clue what this phrase actually means.

If you think about ‘gig’ as ‘an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements’ - one of many definitions - it seems to me that all management consultants are addicted to ‘gig’ working! Think about our propensity to seek short term engagements all the time and seek constant change.  Management consultants are the epitome of ‘gig’!  However, we are at the top end of the spectrum.

At least 20% of the workforce to be made up of contractors and temporary workers by 2020 ?

In management consulting, working flexibly is often a lifestyle choice, and our high fee rates can frequently cover periods of work instability. This I would suggest is very different from Uber taxi drivers or Sports Direct workers on zero hours’ contracts, who are low wage ‘gig’ workers. At the moment PWC says only 2% of the population are ‘gig’ workers;  however a PWC survey also says 46% of HR professionals surveyed said they expect at least 20% of their workforce to be made up of contractors and temporary workers by 2020.

In the wider world and beyond management consulting, this ‘gig’ trend has profound implications for the job security and types of work that could be available to our children and grandchildren. The ‘millennial’ generation i.e. those who were born after 1980, may choose to work in a ‘gig’ way or necessity may enforce this. At its extreme, this could include contracting for work by the hour.  For example already allows workers to contract with customers to build bespoke websites;  mobile applications;  and have design work done by freelancers, with fees paid on an hourly basis.

In summary, the world is changing whether we want it to or not;  and particularly the older and younger generations - out of either choice or necessity - will need to get with the gig!






Rachel Whitehouse, Freeman