The pandemic proved that employees could get work done, regardless of where they are located. In the past, companies were not so keen on outsourcing work because they had less trust in people doing the work if they were not physically in the office.
While many people are still keen to work from home if possible, many companies are also seeing this change in how people work as an opportunity to hire fewer full-time employees.
It’s what many are calling the uberization of the workforce.
“Employers are quiet quitting on the whole idea of traditional full-time employment. In a survey conducted by the Atlanta Fed last year, businesses said remote work had led them to stock up on part-time employees, temps, independent contractors, and outsourced positions both at home and abroad,” says Aki Ito on Business Insider.
“If workers are going to be remote, the thinking seems to go, why not get the cheapest remote workers available? Fewer full-time jobs means fewer costly benefits: healthcare, pensions, on-the-job training, a steady paycheck. In the age of WFH, companies are gig-ifying the American office,” she adds.
What is the Uberization of the workforce?
The term “the Uberization of the workforce” typically refers to the trend where technology platforms, like Uber, create a gig economy where workers are engaged in short-term, on-demand, and often remote jobs without the traditional job security and benefits of traditional employment. The question of whether remote work will lead to the Uberization of the workforce is an important one and has generated much discussion.
Remote work, spurred by advancements in communication technology and the COVID-19 pandemic, has indeed allowed many individuals to work from various locations, providing flexibility and potentially expanding the pool of available job opportunities.
Study finds more companies are looking for alternative hiring options
According to the Atlanta Fed survey:
- 23.3% of companies are seeking out part-time employees
- 18.4% are hiring independent contractors
- 15.4% are engaging in domestic outsourcing
- 13.3% plan to hire temps
- 7.3% will look into offshore options
Other studies have also noticed the trend away from companies hiring full-time employees. Research by McKinsey finds that 36% of the workforce is now made up of independent workers. This includes freelancers, contractors, gig and temporary workers. This is an increase of almost 10% since 2016.
Would the Uberization of the workforce be a good thing?
With more remote and freelance positions being offered by companies, employees are now getting the flexibility they have desired. Most that choose to work remotely do it because they want freedom and flexibility. They can take on one or more roles and make their work schedule based on their lifestyle. Naturally, the ability to do this will depend on the type of work you do, your industry, etc.
Some believe that, while there are benefits to employers offering more flexible work arrangements, it could hurt them in the future.
“The shift away from full-time employment could also wind up hurting employers in the long run,” says Ito.
“As companies invest less in their workers, they’ll get less out of those workers, who in return will invest less in their companies. That’s one reason so many bosses are ordering people back to the office. Without a shared workplace culture, they worry about their ability to engage and motivate employees.”
Even though remote work offers both opportunities and challenges, its transformation into the Uberization of the workforce depends on various factors. Governments, businesses, and others can shape the future of remote work to ensure that it doesn’t mirror the downsides often associated with the gig economy. Striking a balance between flexibility and worker protection will be key to avoiding the negative aspects of the Uberization phenomenon.
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