Gigging Gains Influence At Full Employment

Gig work is gaining credibility, according to Inc.com, and it is changing the expectations for regular full-time employees who see the flexibility of gig work as a benefit they would like to use, too. As I’ve written for Gig Economy Group, every company faces new demands from workers, ranging from workplace flexibility using excellent technical tools to moral and environmental alignment between the employee’s views and those of the company.

Customers set the stage for change in product and services when their expectations evolve and the same goes for workers and the shape of employment. Flexible, well-paid jobs will come, though it will take firm organizing on the part of labor to drive this change home.

“Now, with the economy in better shape and unemployment rates at a low, it’s an employee’s job market. Companies are starting to realize that to compete with non-traditional jobs, they have to start paying competitively, offering flexible schedules, and actually listening to what employees want. That puts employees in a position to be selective about the gigs they pick up, the hours they work, and the people they work with–and it’s an exciting time for companies to take advantage of that shift.”

Source: How the Rise of the Gig Economy Is Boosting the Social Status of Temp and Flex Workers | Inc.com

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Autonomous Economy? Not So Much, Yet

Eager to replace people your business processes? Uber is reconsidering its approach to autonomous vehicles after racing ahead with the project in Pittsburgh, the Bay Area, and Arizona, where a fatal accident with an Uber car raised serious safety questions. The company is laying off 100 autonomous car operators after one of them was found to be streaming The Voice during the deadly collision in Tempe earlier this year. However, many of the operators will be retained in other roles, so that Uber doesn’t lose their experience during the trials. Uber isn’t quitting, it’s rethinking how to provide autonomous transportation.

After an Uber self-driving car fatally struck a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz., in March, Uber paused testing of its experimental vehicles on public roads. On Wednesday, it laid off approximately 100 autonomous vehicle operators.

Here’s the question for all companies thinking about automation: When is it appropriate to put your brand entirely in machine hands? I’d argue the answer is “Never.” People are essential. They add so much to the customer engagement that simple savings on staffing cannot justify their wholesale replacement. In sales, service, and transportation, people represent brands and deal with the unexpected.

The right way to use machine learning for the foreseeable future is to augment people with information, guidance, and inspiration, not to drop them from the customer equation.

Source: Uber Layoffs Signal Hard Look at Public AV Testing

The Gig Economy Is Bigger Than We Admit

Quartz@Work provides a solid analysis of why the United States cannot agree on how many gig workers it has, which I’ve covered elsewhere. The Bureau of Labor Statistics counts only people who dedicate themselves to gig work, not the millions who work a side gig along with a main job.  The Federal Reserve gets the numbers more right than the BLS.

PwC partner Mike Boro summarizes: 

There’s no question that the gig economy is changing the way we work. In today’s complex business environment, it’s not enough to focus only on your own staff. Contractors and freelancers who supplement your workforce need to be a key factor as well—no matter what the numbers say.

Source: The gig economy is bigger than US government data makes it look

Gallup Intros The Real Future of Work” Magazine

Gallup, the surveying organization, has launched an intriguing new publication, The Real Future of Work. A data-intensive publication, the first issue addresses European workers’ sense that they will be able to keep up with automation and how workplace assessment programs align with corporate and personal goals. 

The publication is worth downloading for its clear charts explaining national variations on worker confidence. Notably, like many parts of the world, companies are not seen as reliable venues for personal development. For example, only 32 percent of Britons feel they have worthwhile growth opportunities with their current company while 42 percent of French and 60 percent of German workers anticipate career growth in their current company.

Better management is needed, Gallup concludes. At GEG, we think better managers need better data that looks beyond results to leading indicators in order to analyze the resources workers are offered. Great employees with great tools will change management’s role to one of collaborative guidance in which workers develop innovations in customer experience.

Meta-Management: Getting Data for Machine Learning Right

You will not be able to anticipate everything you will want to learn from a large body of data at first. Starting with a well-documented, flexible metadata model for your content and other data assets will ensure that the learning systems can understand new information in context and, with less work than starting with completely unstructured data, start identifying unrecognized patterns. CIO has a good basic outline:

There are four distinct metadata categories to look at if you want to ensure that you’re delivering comprehensive, relevant and accurate data to implement AI:

  1. Technical metadata – includes database tables and column information as well as statistical information about the quality of the data.
  2. Business metadata – defines the business context of the data as well as the business processes in which it participates.
  3. Operational metadata – information about software systems and process execution, which, for example, will indicate data freshness.
  4. Usage metadata – information about user activity including data sets accessed, ratings and comments.
    Source: Effective artificial intelligence requires a healthy diet of data

Robots need not apply for salesclerk jobs | CMO Strategy – Ad Age

Machine Learning will augment people in a variety of sales settings. AdAge talks about the role of AI in retail in this article. An in-home sales or service provider will also be supported by computer intelligence. For example, a rep will be able to capture customer feedback and personalize recommendations. The article reports that robots strike 32 percent of customers “creepy.” But the invisible AI in a mobile app will make the rep appear smarter and more empathetic than ever.

“We often tend to see AIs as bots to replace people,” says Eric Gervet, partner in the retail and digital transformation practices of A.T. Kearney, a global strategy and management consulting firm. “It’s also very much about fueling people with insights so they can do their jobs better.”

Source: Robots need not apply for salesclerk jobs | CMO Strategy – Ad Age

“False” Self-Employment and the Gig Economy – Where are We Now? – Lexology

“Flexibility” is cited by gig promoters as the benefit that defines on-demand work as better than “traditional employment,” but it often comes at a price. Recent UK rulings suggest that workers must be able to replace themselves — in other words, to subcontract their work — in order to be treated as non-employees. Real independent businesses have more freedom than a gig worker, and it appears courts agree. Something for U.S. gig companies to monitor carefully.

The legal analysis in these recent UK decisions focuses on the various aspects of traditional legal tests to identify a “contract for services” (independent contractor / self-employed) versus a “contact of service” (employment contract). These tests also apply in Ireland. Factors that were examined included: the ability of an individual to substitute someone else into their role, the level of control applied by the contracting party, mutuality of obligation and the ability for the contractor to carry out an

Source: “False” Self-Employment and the Gig Economy – Where are We Now? – Lexology

Hybridizing Sales: In-Home, Retail, and E-Commerce Mixed by Humans

Local On-Demand Services need people representing brands and, importantly, customer experience. At Gig Economy Group, we are building tools to extend personal selling. We debuted at the Direct Selling Association Conference with LifeVantage, our first commercial customer. After speaking with Eazl‘s Davis Jones about this idea, he riffs smartly on it in this video.

Here’s the latest on the growth of direct sales, which is one important trend that we think defines a new hybrid sales experience: People in local markets will represent brands, manage service delivery, and sustain customer trust using e-commerce platforms and, even, retail strategies. But it will all converge on the home as the market consolidates its move toward in-home delivery.

18.6 million people in the U.S. were involved in direct selling during 2017.

5.6 million individuals were involved as business builders in 2017 and of these:

.9 million were full-time business builders;

and, 4.7 million were part-time business builders.

13.0 million individuals were discount customers.

Global direct selling increased year over year in 2017 from USD $186.7 billion to USD $189.6 billion; and U.S. direct selling was down slightly from $35.5 billion to $34.9 billion.

Source: Change Presents Opportunity for the Direct Selling Association as it Launches the “Year of the Independent Contractor” | Business Wire

4 HR Changes to Prepare for the Gig Economy | Onrec

Word. The on-demand worker, who may transition to a full-time, still flexible, arrangement, must be onboarded and, more so, made familiar and confident when using your branded content and selling tools.

You can’t afford to skip the onboarding step with gig workers, but many employers do it, anyway. They don’t run background checks, provide training, or do performance reviews. Instead, many gig workers work unvetted with limited supervision and almost no feedback until they turn in their assignments. This structure is unstable and puts undue risk on your business. Remember: your gig workers are still representatives of your brand. They enjoy access to company information and resources that are likely proprietary or confidential, and you still need to track and maintain their performance standards as they work.

Source: 4 HR Changes to Prepare for the Gig Economy | Onrec

More Bike-Sharing: Alphabet participates in funding round for Lime | PitchBook

Yesterday, Lyft joined Uber in the bikesharing business, and today Alphabet follows suit. Lime, which has placed bikes in dozens of U.S. and European cities, will be teamed with Waymo, Alphabet/Google’s autonomous car business to provide multi-modal transportation services. The round totals $300 million and values the company at $1.1 billion.

The “adjacency phenomenon” is a useful construct for understand gig companies. At scale, on-demand companies will roll up more services to increase ARPU by providing adjacent services, such as bikes to ridesharers or yard work to housekeeping customers. In all these setting, the sales problem becomes more complex, intimate — because the customer’s daily habits become the basis for new service offerings — and, less susceptible to purely technical solutions for selling.

Source: Alphabet participates in funding round for Lime | PitchBook