For most of us, the term “gig economy” reminds us of short occasional tasks like catching a ride downtown or finding a convenient place to stay while traveling. However, the digital marketplace now includes increasingly complex gigs. For example, a government contractor needs cyber security specialists with ten years of experience, agency specific qualifications and a high level security clearance. These are higher-level gigs that require matching professionals within the government community.
Many companies are adopting leading practices to leverage the advantages of the gig economy. They are implementing more effective methods to search for the talent needed to win and deliver results on government contracts. Companies are managing their resources to acquire expert contingency staffing and to outsource top quality back office solutions. These capabilities will provide the help they need to build winning proposals, form effective teams and deliver results for government agencies.
Survey results from “Freelancing in America: 2016,” commissioned by the Freelancers Union and Upwork, indicate that 55 million Americans or 35% of the U.S. workforce are freelancing. Analysis of the results shows that freelancing is growing, and that 73% of freelancers said that technology makes it easier to find work. Our experience indicates that an increasing number of those freelancers are subject matter experts providing consulting or technical services within the government marketplace.
According to Elka Torpey and Andrew Hogan, economists with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics “these (freelance) workers often get individual gigs using a website or mobile app that helps to match them with customers.” In their May 2016 article, “Working in a Gig Economy,” they indicate that gigs may be of very short duration or can last as long as 18 months.
The value proposition for both contractors and consultants relates to the broader market of previously untapped talent available throughout the United States. Consultants who were historically connected to regional or local markets can now work from virtually anywhere and often do, as part of the new gig economy model. Within this new context search capabilities and matching profiles are enhanced.
Online matching and restructuring of the U.S. workforce creates opportunities for government contractors to gain a competitive advantage all while keeping their overhead costs under control. This changes the value proposition for government contractors and consultants. It adds economies of scale through larger labor pools and more efficient ways to match opportunities with the talent they require.
The new digital economy provides ease of use and enables companies to bid more often and more accurately because they have access to previously unavailable talent. This enables them to effectively assemble the teams they need to produce quality proposals and perform effectively after contract award. Electronic payment and service delivery can be more effectively managed as well.
Through the gig economy there’s a new and better way to work in the digital marketplace. Far beyond finding a ride downtown or finding a place to stay, the new gig economy offers government contractors and independent consultants substantial new opportunities and distinct competitive advantages.