The next generation of employable experts seeks a kind of autonomy and flexibility that a full-time job can’t offer them, making a trend towards a new labor market inevitable.
The result is a new gig economy – but what are the risks of relying on freelance employees, and are they outweighed by any benefits?
Weighing the gig economy pros and cons
Onboarding vs. sustainability
Companies who work with freelancers know it’s important to provide as much insight into the company and corporate culture as possible. This is especially true for freelancers who are representing the company with clients and the public. However, providing this extensive knowledge to a large number of contingent workers is time consuming. For that reason, companies often feel more inclined to work with full-time employees who are already familiar with all the ins and outs of the business.
Soon, though, this model will no longer be sustainable. Perhaps there isn’t a more demonstrable case of this than in the field service sector where real-time demands and predictive maintenance are changing how customers demand service.
Field service providers hoping to remain competitive will need a much larger workforce to respond to client needs, and hiring enough full-time employees to fulfill this need is a near impossibility. Not only because of the enormous overhead costs, but also because there’s a limited number of skilled service technicians and new talent is opting for more flexible labor models.
Crowd service offers the perfect solution, allowing for a pool of skilled workers consisting of employees, partners, subcontractors, and freelancers. Quite simply, crowd service means there’s always a service technician available.
When weighing the gig economy pros and cons, it’s wise to remember that crowd service can help determine which technician has the skill set most beneficial to getting the job done – ultimately saving your org, the tech, and most importantly, the customer time.
Although crowd service might require investment in onboarding, it ensures that burgeoning customer demands and expectations for quick fixes in real-time can be met. In addition, many freelance workers are accustomed to transitioning between different business sectors. Therefore, they can often learn new skills quickly and process information easily. All in all, customer satisfaction is almost a guarantee!
Company loyalty vs. outside perspective
Company loyalty is a big factor for companies when considering the pros and cons of the gig economy. Using traditional corporate thinking, an employee is vested in the success of the company; if the company succeeds, the employee has guaranteed security. Freelancers, on the other hand, don’t usually rely on one single company for security and a paycheck. However, it’s a big mistake to think this diminishes the quality of their work and commitment to their clients’ success.
Like any field service provider, a freelancer’s livelihood depends on customer satisfaction. If customers aren’t happy, they go elsewhere. In addition, freelancers often rely on word-of-mouth referrals for new acquisitions. A satisfied customer is more likely to recommend a freelancer to business acquaintances.
Finally, having an outside perspective into your organization can be an incredible advantage, especially given the volatility of the digital age. Technology, business models, customer demands, and solutions are changing rapidly every day. Fresh insight can help avoid the blind spots that result from being too wrapped up in the company viewpoint.
In reality, freelancers contribute an ample pool of knowledge and experience that spreads across various business sectors. They might see an answer that someone too close to the problem would otherwise miss.
Availability vs. accessibility
A common – and unfounded – concern about freelancers is their availability. Having someone in the office from 9 to 5 feels more reliable than a freelancer who may or may not be available to attend to a task. However, that same daytime employee might not be available for a customer emergency, and might also spend hours a week with no customer requests. This kind of mismanaged time can cost companies money and customer trust.
Instead of having one expert available from 9 to 5, it’s substantially more reliable to have a number of experts with a broad set of skills accessible 24/7. Today’s constant flow of information demands constant digital connectivity. This is easily managed via apps and field service management platforms. By integrating a crowd service platform, it’s simple to maintain constant access to a pool of potential experts – having a crowd means that there’s always more trusted people you can rely on. And the best part is that your customers never have to wait for top notch service.
Regardless of any cost/benefit analysis your company might complete, the fact remains that soon all businesses will have to reconsider their workforce model. Digital transformation is reshaping how we live and work. Companies that choose not to prepare themselves for these changes run the risk of widening the talent gap and diminishing customer satisfaction.
Recognizing the benefits of working with freelancers means you’re opting to embrace the future of the workforce.
Responsiveness = happy customers.
Leverage field service to provide outstanding CX.
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