Michael Carter is the co-founder and CEO of Kahuso, an online platform that connects accomplished executives with companies for part-time, interim, advisory and board positions. Naomi Titleman Colla is the founder of Collaborativity Leadership Advisor.
As women continue to climb the corporate ladder, the traditional 9-to-5 no longer works with their lifestyle.
As a response, employers are increasingly becoming more flexible to keep this highly skilled work force engaged. The agile or gig economy provides both employees and employers with flexibility to meet different priorities and helps eliminate the negative perceptions of opting in or out of the work force. Participants in the gig economy have the flexibility to balance their priorities and this is why women should cash in on this new way of working.
The gig economy is on the rise and it is estimated that more than 40 per cent of the work force will be contract/freelance-based by 2020. Until recently, freelance work was viewed as a means to an end and not a sustainable career path. However, as more highly skilled workers choose this option, highly desirable employers are following. The Harvard Business Review refers to this shift as "the rise of the supertemp." Supertemps are top managers and professionals who've been trained at top schools and worked at leading companies, who choose to pursue project-based careers. This shift presents an interesting opportunity for female executives to engage in the gig economy and forge a new path that opens up time, balance and flexibility.
For women with children, the gig economy is a means to balancing family duties with a fulfilling professional career, and it calls for a shift in how we think a successful career should look or happen. The gig economy gives women the option to scale up or down as necessary and without the repercussions that often come with traditional employment.
In the past, women have primarily tapped into their own personal network to obtain freelance work. But today, there are talent platforms that are stepping in to harness the power of a senior talent pool (such as Kahuso). For many women who have been out of the work force for 15-plus years raising families, talent platforms allow them to "test the waters" in a new role, without the commitment of a full-time position.
Not only does the gig economy present a huge opportunity for women, it is also a huge asset to companies. Many companies still feel that they have to obtain talent through a professional service firm or temp agency. With women and the gig economy, there is an opportunity to re-think how the work gets done. Companies who are tapping into the gig economy realize that hiring outside of a traditional, full-time structure enables them to nimbly engage in a larger, more diverse talent pool and more effectively manage cost to results. This also means more women in leadership roles and board positions, and a diverse work force makes good business sense. There are major cost benefits to hiring a nimble, efficient and highly-skilled work force on a contract basis.
The changing landscape presents a huge (and under-utilized) opportunity both for women and for companies. While its not necessarily a straightforward path, this new world of work has opened up countless ways for work to get done.
Even if it doesn't seem like an option at this time, it has become increasingly important to understand the way the gig economy works and what it offers. The gig economy is steadily growing and all signs are indicating that this is the future of work. Learning how to successfully navigate this new way of working will open you up to new career opportunities and the power to structure your life in a way that best works for your professional and personal fulfilment.