Gig Economy Scheduling
Updated: Feb 7
There is no doubt about it the gig economy is becoming a more significant part of the workforce, with an increasing number of businesses and workers opting for the gig model, due to the flexibility it offers to both the employer & the employee, plus advancements in technology that are allowing for more agile self-service scheduling practices.
Of course, Gig economy working makes more sense for some businesses over others, with pioneering brands like Uber & Lyft leading the pack, whereas in highly regulated industries like financial services. But, in contrast, it becomes near impossible to deploy due to quality & compliance risk.
Many people feel that the gig economy pushes too much of the cost of doing business onto workers, who often don't receive standard benefits. Still, it is clear that this type of work is here to stay and will continue to grow.
What is Gig Economy Scheduling?
Gig economy working provides extreme flexibility to workers, giving them complete control over how to spend each hour and minute of the day. Instead of centrally scheduling the shifts of workers, gig economy scheduling allows workers to independently set their hours (often with no advance notice required) in the form of self-scheduling.
Although a provider of Gig economy working does not directly control the number of people working at a time, it still takes an active role in managing capacity. For example, changing the wage dynamically (or other incentives) offered and the maximum number of workers allowed to work at any one point in time.
Unlike traditional scheduling, where a shift pattern is published in larger blocks of time (often 8hrs a day if full-time) and over more extended periods (often in 4-week blocks), Gig Economy scheduling makes work time available for the employees to self-schedule in much smaller blocks of time sometimes even as little as 15minutes blocks of working. There are also reduced (sometimes no) limitations on how much or how little an employee can choose to work.
What are the drawbacks of Gig Economy Scheduling?
Aside from the concerns that the gig economy is putting too many workers at risk of income loss in a downturn, Gig Economy Scheduling creates two inefficiencies:
too few workers choose to participate or
too few jobs lead to too many workers participating.
Both are costly; the 1st will lead to customer experience issues the 2nd is expensive to the worker as they are not fully utilized but still incur their full opportunity cost.
What are the Benefits of Gig Economy Scheduling?
Reduced Schedule in-flex – due to self-service scheduling and that employees will be working in smaller shift blocks, Gig Economy scheduling means you are much more likely to match your workforce supply to the workload demand without cost waste – i.e., having the workforce idle during parts of the day due to scheduling inflex inefficiencies.
Works well with Work-at-Home (WFH) solutions – one of the biggest benefits of WFH is it creates a more agile workforce due to there being no need to commute, meaning it is possible to ramp up and down resources quickly, matching staffing to expected or even unexpected workload.
Spike & Surge Workload Management – not only can you better align workforce resources to expected lulls or spikes in workload demand, but you can also create more in-the-moment agility (especially when coupled with WFH due to the lack of commute) through real-time notifications about unpredicted workload.
Flexible Schedules means Flexible Working– with each generation that passes, the ability to flex your schedule to meet your desired work-life balance becomes ever more critical. This is especially true of the Millennials or below demographic.
Businesses Reduce Expenses – this can reduce employee costs by up to 40% (depending upon the country's labor laws) due to not needing to pay vacation time, paid breaks, payroll tax, and health benefits.
So what changes need to be made to Workforce Management practice to accommodate?
With a Gig economy workforce at your disposal, the forecasting element of your workforce management method essentially stays the same. However, it could be argued that the importance of accuracy increases due to now introducing opportunity cost risk to employees.
You need to determine the ideal workforce mix between traditional full-time/part-time workers and Gig economy workers.
You need to determine the blocks of gig time offered for Gig employees to self-schedule against.
It seems obvious, but you need a workforce management system that can facilitate employee self-scheduling of their work hours.
You need to determine the minimum length of a work session. It is usually sensible to set the minimum to the average handle time of the workload demand you are forecasting. For example, a task that takes 30minutes on average to handle means it makes no sense for employees to be able to schedule in 15minute increment blocks.
Set the maximum allowable time that can be worked per day and week to ensure labor laws are not breached and employees' health/wellbeing is protected.
Clearly identify peak, volatile or unpopular periods of your opening hours and determine how you will dynamically apply wage changes (or other incentives) to attract employees to these demand periods.
Set out how you will engage your Gig Economy workforce to leverage its agility -push notifications, instant messaging, and geofencing if your workforce is mobile.