Gig Economy Trends: How 2020 Shaped the Future of Independent Contract Work as We Know It

Man picking up food delivery from woman at a restaurant

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the way many of us live our daily lives. According to Statista, prior to the pandemic only 17 percent of U.S. employees worked from home five or more days per week—a statistic that increased to 44 percent during the last year. With office buildings, retail stores, restaurants and more locked down during the height of COVID-19, many of us had no choice but to work from home… or not work at all. As an employer overseeing independent contractors, however, you likely had an entirely different experience. 

The pandemic placed critical importance on independent contractors in a big way 

During the pandemic, almost everyone had groceries brought to their doorsteps, supported their favorite restaurants by ordering takeout, or catered to online shopping addictions, all from their computers, tablets, or smartphones. Consumers of these goods and services may not have realized it at the time, but your team of independent contractors and gig workers who made those things happen were busier than ever this past year, and they relied heavily on technology to get their jobs done.  

Rapid growth and constant connection to tech are two major gig economy trends that emerged over the last year, and they aren’t going away any time soon—the industry is booming like never before. Labor market research from Gallup for Intuit forecasted just two years ago that by 2021, approximately 9.2 million people in the U.S. would be a part of the gig economy, and that number continues to grow. In fact, according to HR Dive, a staggering 60 percent of the workforce will be considered “independent professionals” by 2027. For consumers, the shift to online servicing and retail is here to stay, according to market trends identified by McKinsey & Company. And for independent contract workers, it’s never been more straightforward to meet the demands that accompany that shift. With the ability to move easily from gig to gig, smartphone in hand to manage all of the logistics, employees have seemingly endless opportunities to pick up work.  

What does this new direction in the economy mean for you? 

As an employer of independent contract workers, you’ve been busier than ever and need to make efficient, smart, data-driven business decisions. You’re under pressure to hire additional employees to meet recent demands, or may need help engaging and inspiring your existing workforce to be as productive as they possibly can. The members of your team have undoubtedly begun to sense the increased value of their roles. In changing times like these, you need an effective and reliable partner to help you and your employees feel supported and to drive better business outcomes. 

Utilizing technology for organizational success 

The automation of critical workforce processes such as timekeeping, scheduling, and leave management are at the core of the most effective workforce management solutions. At the rate that the gig economy is growing, it is imperative for managers and employees to be equipped with the smartest, most empowering human capital management technology to ensure organizational efficiency. With the implementation of the right technology for your company, intuitive workforce management solutions can be at your fingertips.  

Areas of priority for employees 

  • Time off requests: Your employees have been working harder than ever, and they deserve a break. Requesting time off shouldn’t be complicated, and an easy way to submit vacation days will ultimately lead to better morale in the workplace. 
  • Timecards: It’s beneficial for employees to be able to easily see the time they’ve put in on the job, in order to manage follow through on their commitments at work. 
  • Upcoming schedules: Life can throw curveballs, and last-minute work conflicts are bound to pop up. Your staff will appreciate being able to swap, drop, or pick up shifts with the click of a button, and visualize the week ahead. 
  • Mobile access: We’re more connected than ever before, and the ability to utilize workplace tools should be no exception. With an integrated mobile app, your employees can have access to their dashboards anywhere, anytime.  

Easier automation for managers 

  • Data visualization: AI-driven insights can help steer you to areas you should be focusing on—whether it’s employees with too much overtime, an individual who’s garnered too many attendance infractions, or the need to hire additional people to help avoid burnout.  
  • Scheduling: The ability to clearly visualize which of your employees are coming in, or who needs coverage will help you prioritize and manage tasks. 
  • Timecard approval: By optimizing timecard review, you’ll streamline the entire process by letting advanced systems recommend approval, saving you time and money. 

At UKG, we know that empowering and engaging your people is absolutely essential to your success. The gig economy is unique and constantly changing. With the next generation of workforce technology tools available now, we’re here to help you handle today’s challenges and tomorrow’s changes, and reach your organization’s greatest potential. 

Watch a 15-minute demo of UKG Dimensions™ here.