The Voice of Freedom

Our CEO, Wade Burgess, takes over the blog today to share how he plans to advocate for the gig worker, freelancer, and independent contractor.

It’s often the gap between our dreams and our reality that inspires us to do more, learn more, and find ways to improve our lot in life. Over time, I’ve observed two primary schools of thought.  One decides to shrink their dreams to match their current reality and begins to justify all of the reasons why those dreams were never important to them (and often criticizes others who aspire for more). The other steps out in faith and begins to look for vehicles to help them expand their current reality to meet their dreams. I’d like to address this latter group and share some good news.

In a professional context, two of the primary balancing acts we perform to improve our lot in life are time vs money and security vs risk. And in different phases of life we tend to favor various sides of these equations. Traditional entrepreneurship is often too risky for most. And traditional employment can feel too restrictive for many. When conundrums like these become large enough in the marketplace, compassionate capitalism has an amazing way of inspiring technology and innovation to solve them. Enter the world of flexible work.

Whether termed freelancer, gig worker, or independent contractor, a powerful lifestyle option is becoming readily available and increasingly desirable to a growing portion of the population. These workers are providing the agility and elasticity organizations desire, a cost structure that correlates with cyclical needs, and a refreshing lift in quality and engagement. With the gig economy growing to an estimated 43% of the US workforce, by 2020, both the worker and the organizations who engage them have some serious prep work in the days ahead.

Leading Shiftgig, a technology company in the human capital management space, I get to see firsthand how technology provides financial opportunity for flexible workers. We have helped tens of thousands of people find work through our mobile app, provided thousands of companies a tool to source qualified workers and were recently ranked #62 on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list as one of the fastest growing technology companies in North America. The demand for gig workers is increasing across nearly every industry sector and consulting firms are busily helping organizations prepare for the workforce of tomorrow. Yet as I immerse myself into this paradigm shift, one factor seems to be highly underrepresented. The voice of the gig worker, freelancer, and independent contractor is missing. And the silence is deafening.

People primarily choose contingent work because of its flexibility and optionality. Yet the behavioral psychology of the gig worker, how they define choice and reward, the expectations and aspirations they enter with and develop over time are all inconsistently understood or defined across the industry. Creating a platform for people to express these wants and needs in order to improve how work is done today and beyond is a key part of helping dreams become a reality. It is important their voices are heard so companies can ensure proper processes and technology are in place to handle and enable this group en masse.

By opening up the lines of communication between the tech community and this workforce, we’ll be able to further leverage technology in the new world of work. One platform I will use as a first step is the Forbes Technology Council. Recently I was accepted as a member of this invitation-only organization comprised of leading CIOs, CTOs and technology executives and will be contributing articles each month as a proponent for the gig and freelance worker.

With a personal mission to help people live better lives, it seems only natural to focus on two key factors than have great impact: time and money. Having the freedom to choose when, where, and for whom one chooses to work has the appearance of being a libertarian’s dream. But there are more complexities to this equation and I feel fortunate to have opportunities to advocate on behalf of this workforce as the economy adjusts to its momentum. I am listening, ready to learn, and driven to make a change in the way the world works.


About The Author

Jane Smith is the Community Relations Manager at Shiftgig. She is passionate about helping Shiftgig Specialists and helping transform the way people work. In her free time, Jane loves cooking, exploring Chicago, and spending time with family.