Challenges & opportunities for corporate communications in the gig economy

Breaking traditions, rebellion from the regular, and separating from the customary have been traits of the youth always. Traditionally, families, friends, employers, and corporate environments have always tried to put a curb on such traits, attitudes, and practices. In today’s connected world, on the contrary, these attributes are encouraged and accepted as strengths, all courtesy to the gig economy.

It is not required to come to the office for a fixed 9 to 5 job if one can match up or even exceed in delivery of the required work in much less of time in a flexible manner. The autonomy of work and flexibility allows them to opt for a flexible environment as digital connections between employers and employees are being strengthened through technology.

Companies do benefit from a larger pool of resources available to them in this situation and look at utilising services of freelancers, specialised resources, and varied workforce. Most of their efforts are aimed at bringing in cost-optimisation and enhancing productivity while working with a pool of workers from this gig economy. Smaller companies who have always been constrained of financial resources for hiring highly skilled workers may have relatively easy availability of such resources, even if it is for smaller contractual time-frame.

The gig economy also brings with it co-working spaces, where temporary offices are shared by a diverse set of companies. Small assignments are preferred by freelancers where they have more flexibility to do things. Corporate communications cannot remain untouched with this phenomenon as they have to deal with people across the latitudes and longitudes in any organisation for processing any information, relevant to the organisation.

While hiring the talent the companies may have questions to answer such as how to locate the best talent, whether the talent is adequately skilled or not, how to test the skill sets of talent, is there a match with the tasks and responsibilities of a job with the talent hired at that time, will the freelancers be able to match up to company’s work culture, values, mission, ethics, business practices, etc. There are many more such questions that the company may encounter while hiring the workers from the gig economy. Interestingly, any aberration in any of these elements can make a direct and significant impact on the company’s image among its constituencies. The impact can be on external as well as internal audiences affecting the communication aimed at them.

On one hand, there can be issues of coherence between the existing employees and the external workers of the gig economy, which may lead to development of some kind of rift or uneasiness among the long-time loyal employees impacting their productivity. Externally, the geographically scattered employees could pose a threat to company secrets and intellectual property as there may not be much control over them. This could lead to some legal complications for the company vis-à-vis its customers and other stakeholders. Corporate communications teams and brand communicators could face serious challenges because of this and may have to undertake crisis management more often than not.

On another hand, the new age workers from the gig economy may bring in their skillsets and talent to drastically change the way an organisation functions raising the productivity and quality of output, enhancing the effectiveness and efficiencies, and setting up new benchmarks. All of this could enhance the overall image of the company among its stakeholders, raise the goodwill and trust in the company’s products and services. Such situations are further opportunities for corporate communications fraternity towards enhancing the company’s image.

If there’s a well-managed and balanced approach taken by the corporate communications professionals, the gig economy offers tremendous benefits to use high-quality, talented resources to boost the company’s image!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Praveen Nagda
Praveen Nagda is the CEO of Peregrine Public Relations, a full-service corporate communications and public relations consultancy firm delivering a pan-India reach to its clients. He also heads White Coffee, an independent events & celebrity engagement company.

Praveen has been closely associated with many national and international events related to cinema for children, art and culture. He has a well-rounded experience that cuts across all key sectors of PR & Corporate Communications.

He started his career with URJA Communications, an advertising agency specialising in technology brands, where he was instrumental in developing the PR division. Post this, he had a stint with Horizons Porter Novelli, a global public relations consultancy. Thereafter, he was heading the IT & Telecom division at Clea PR, a leading Indian public relations and communications company followed by a fairly long stint with Omnicom Group agencies viz. TBWA\India and Brodeur India.

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