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The 2020 gig economy trends expected to take Australia by storm

What's in store for the Australian gig workforce in 2020? (Source: Getty)
What's in store for the Australian gig workforce in 2020? (Source: Getty)

Transforming work models indicate now is the time to break free of the 9-to-5 shackles. Gartner reveals 40 per cent of CEOs are planning on outsourcing roles and responsibilities to freelancers in the contingent workforce.

Right now, contingent workers only represent a quarter of the global workforce, but this figure is projected to increase exponentially to 40 per cent by 2025.

As we navigate the path toward a workforce where more of us will be responsible for forging our own way, the workforce around us will need to adjust to accommodate the demand for change.

Here are the trends to look out for in the year to come:

There will be more opportunities for a side hustle.

A side hustle is any type of employment undertaken in addition to one’s full-time-job. Typically, side hustles are often passion projects, rather than a standard job worked in order to make ends meet. In 2020, employers will start realising the difference between commitment and compliance and offer contingent work to passionate side-hustlers who will complete projects with vigour. Employers will be open to negotiate flexible working arrangements with their gig workers, such as wages, hours and location in order to engage the best talent. Smart employers will see that it is sometimes cheaper and more effective to allow their permanent employees get the career development they want by engaging in side hustles.

We’ll see an emergence of ‘organisational refugees’.

Organisational refugees are employees who flee their dysfunctional traditional working environments because they are not being developed or given the opportunity to explore their curiosity. If the only thing preventing employees from leaving their permanent job is the promise of a reliable income, then gig work will only increase in attractiveness.

However, Gartner’s latest Global Talent Monitor reveals employees now feel there’s more to job satisfaction than a severance package. Itchy feet were prevalent in the last quarter of 2019, with a 3.6 per cent increase in the number of employees seeking new opportunities and employees’ intent to stay falling 3.6 per cent.

There will be an influx of collaborative workspaces.

In 2020, there will be a proliferation of shared workspaces like WeWork and theDesk, offering gig workers an engaging environment and the ability to network and collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs.

These spaces will begin offering services and perks typically associated with traditional employment, such as innovation labs, professional development and HR, legal and finance support to assist gig workers in maximising their opportunities and working conditions.

The biggest growth will be in consultancy gigs.

People are entering the gig economy in virtually every industry. The tech sector is already well known for its contingent working arrangements, but other industries are quickly catching up. Web designers, developers, writers, tradies, couriers, drivers, health workers, and lawyers are among the professions increasingly accepting consultancy and contract gigs.

Consultancy work is attractive to people of all stages in life. For example, millennials are attracted to consultancy gigs for the promise of improved flexibility, skills development and diverse experiences.

On the other hand, Baby Boomers and other more mature generations on the cusp of retirement are enticed by consultancy work as it offers a source of supplementary income without the time commitments and all-consuming workloads of traditional employment.

Guilds will make a comeback.

Since the 1500s, guilds have slowly become less and less prominent in society. However, the contingent workforce is expected to be the driving force behind the resurgence of guilds in 2020 and the decade to come.

Contemporary guilds will replace the purpose and sense of belonging associated with organisations and develop a new type of collectivism in people with similar skills, values and life experiences. Joining a collective of people of similar skillsets will offer learning and network opportunities, and potentially provide access to traditional employment benefits, legal protections and even crowd-sourced venture capital funding.

Australia’s gig workforce is on the rise and 2020 will be monumental in terms of pathing the way for an empowered contingent workforce. The rise in workers seeking less-traditional employment arrangements is expected to disrupt the way both employees and organisations work.

Staying across the trends and trials of the gig economy, will enable Australians to capitalise on this rapidly evolving work model.

Aaron McEwan is the vice president of research and advisory at Gartner.

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