• Ultimate Gig

COVID-19 Accelerates These 7 Gig Economy Trends

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

COVID-19 continues to challenge us and accelerate what we're learning.

The four months of this year has been a period that we will remember in many ways. Our project,Ultimate Gig, continues to move forward. As with everything else, we have adjusted or workflow and rescheduled some deadlines to accommodate a vastly different business environment for all of us.  

At the end of last year, we discussed seven trends to watch in 2020. Those trends were not only accurate, but they have also accelerated in the priorities of strategic planning in virtually every company, especially those in direct selling. We repeat them below simply because I know each of you are also in a planning process as to how you and your business return to a new normal as quickly as possible.  

  1. New opportunities. Three driving factors behind the gig economy show no signs of slowing in 2020: consumers expecting products and services on demand, businesses seeking to optimize their workforce, and individuals looking to boost their income with additional flexible work. Watch for even more companies to join the gig economy across virtually every sector.

  2. Old opportunities redefined. While the gig economy seems new, there have been some companies that have offered flexible, short-term, or part-time earning opportunities for years. Many of these businesses, including direct selling companies, will begin to reframe the way they market themselves to potential workers. This poses a massive opportunity in 2020 and beyond.

  3. Technology disruption. Technology fueled the surge in the gig economy in the past decade, with smartphones, mobile apps, and data analytics making it easier to engage and participate in new forms of work. In 2020, watch for artificial intelligence, voice, extended reality, and 5G data networks to continue to transform the way we think about and conduct work. Technology systems must be flexible, expandable, adaptable in support of legacy systems that are challenged and in need of transformation and additional support. Third-party providers will be important to these discussions. The speed of change, and a company's ability to keep pace, will be complemented by more third-party expertise and experience. 

  4. Faster payments. Traditional freelance workers often were among the last vendors to see their invoices paid, and many long-time contractors are accustomed to spending time each month collecting outstanding invoices. Innovation within the gig economy has begun to turn that around, and we expect to see an increasing number of gig economy companies in 2020 pay people nearly instantaneously for work they perform.

  5. Changes in the traditional workplace. As more and more people seek to supplement their full-time employment with side-hustles, many traditional employers will need to rethink their existing policies. To remain competitive in the labor market, employers will need to offer more flexible hours, more location independence, and be willing to accept that there are hours when their employees are not only "off the clock" but also on someone else's.

  6. Regulatory uncertainty. California will ring in the new year with its attempt to bring a new set of labor standards to the gig economy, and we anticipate at least a handful of states and municipalities to follow suit with new regulations of their own. This will generate more work for lawyers, lobbyists, and analysts. Still, it is unclear whether these actions will result in a substantive change in the labor market. We certainly expect new regulations in many cases as the “safety net” for gig workers must evolve to the satisfaction of both worker and regulatory. The genie is out of the bottle.

  7. Customers are the kings and queens of the future marketplace. Backed by new technology, consumers will continue to vote with their wallets to demand an increasingly higher level of customer experience. An intuitive shopping experience, personalized products and services, and near-instant delivery will become base-line expectations. The most successful companies will be able to anticipate a customer’s needs and resolve problems even before a customer becomes aware of them. 

Customer Acquisition and Retention are Key

All companies realize that they will be conducting business differently.They must serve customers in new ways. If there was any lingering debate as to how important it is to focus on customer acquisition and retention, COVID-19 has made this even more apparent.

Companies are having more conversations about the issue and accelerating the implementation of new strategies and tactics. Having so many people work from home has taught us quickly how productive we can be, even though we may not have physical contact.The gig economy has been capitalizing on this attribute of flexibility and freedom in how work is done for quite some time.

Optimism for Accelerated Learning

The way we communicate with all audiences is undoubtedly different today. We hope everyone has stock in Zoom. :) Events have been canceled and rescheduled, and we remain uncertain as to what the future may look like. However, we also remain optimistic that accelerated learning and increased concerns for personal and economic health (which both have proven to be fragile in the current environment) will activate a new normal that will serve all of humanity.

Regulatory issues continue to challenge the direct selling model, and we predict more direct selling companies will adopt more simplicity vs. complexity.The regulatory scrutiny and issues are serious, and direct selling companies cannot continue to invest in and defend a model that has been aching for reinvention and repositioning for the past few years, certainly since 2015, when the rate of growth began to shrink both domestically and globally.

The gig economy is not a panacea. However, there is much learning that we are uncovering and will address in the bookUltimate Gig.

Ready to Learn More?

The Ultimate Gig is a research project with the mission to provide insight into the relevance and growth of gig economy opportunities. Order the Ultimate Gig special report today!

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