According to Tina Brown in a January Daily Beast article, we’re all doing knowledge piece work, and have entered the age of “The Gig Economy,” where college-educated professionals & knowledge workers find themselves working “Gigs” instead of jobs – short-term, project-based efforts, for fee. No health benefits, no stock plans, no 401ks. These folks are trying to stitch together enough “Gigs” to make the “Nut” which, according to Brown, is the amount of “Gigwork” income it takes to make the middle class income formerly acquired with that one-steady-job-with-benefits.
Tina Brown’s world view doesn’t
seem as shiny as Dan Pink’s, the one he called out in his 2001 book entitled
“Free Agent Nation.” Back then Pink
viewed the diaspora of the formerly fully employed as an army composed of the “independent worker, tech savvy, self-reliant,
path-charting, micropreneur.” But this more upbeat view was on the pivot point of the Dot.com boom implosion into the Dot.bom bust. A free-wheeling Free Agent Nation was a tech-age version of the traveling guild worker of the Middle
Ages: skilled, self-sufficient, and joining a community of other guilders for
interesting work. In the Middle Ages
they’d get together and say build a Gothic cathedral. Now, according to Brown they're doing spot projects among multiple clients.
What’s interesting about
Brown’s commentary is her observations of the challenges for both companies or
large organizations and the peripatetic, Gig-worker as they try to coordinate, collaborate
and communicate among those projects that’s been “pieced” out from
According to Brown, organizations
and companies may enjoy of the cost benefits of Gig-workers who have no
benefits, but their organizational behavior still expects to conduct meetings
and interact along a model where people are physically present.
Gig-workers have to communicate and
coordinate multiple projects across multiple “Gigs” being nimble, agile, as they connect and collaborate electronically with each
client. Gig-workers are creating online guilds as they create communities to identify work, and highlight their portfolios.
Companies themselves are challenged trying to track and connect with this new class of knowledge worker, while the “Gigsters” spend time, money and effort trying to keep consistent collaboration with their clients. Many companies are trying to foster better collaboration tools and practice within their organizations, but in this model, we’ll also have to have Enterprise 2.0 with a twist of Gigging, please.