The on-demand economy (ODE) is changing the future of work dramatically.
Initially created by technology companies to fulfill consumer demand for a variety of freelance, home and other services as needed, it has quickly become a groundbreaking way to do business.
ODE purports to change the long-held norm for workers of having a job and salary from traditional employers. It could also ease the concern of those retiring who need work activity and additional income. ODE offers them the freedom to take on only the projects they want when they want to work.
ODE also offers choices that employees have always craved, which include an individual’s desire to work independently; avoid discrimination because of age, gender, geographic or ethnic barriers; have flexibility (with work schedules); and find the satisfaction of working on a product or service where they experience personal alignment and satisfaction.
New Ways to Offer Services are Revolutionizing Jobs
Mike Jaconi, contributor to Businessinsider.com (July 13, 2014), writes, “It is no longer a question of if the On-Demand Economy will revolutionize the way people transact or create thousands of jobs or move governments... this is all happening. When consumers outside the tech-savvy, early adopters begin to adopt On-Demand Economy, it will usher in a paradigm shift similar to what was seen with the advent of the Internet in the late 1990s.
“Because much of the On-Demand Economy centers on apps, many people assume it is dominated by millennials, but in reality older adults are well represented when it comes to both buying and selling,” says Jeff Wald of WorkMarket. “More experienced workers are in some ways better equipped to take advantage of On-Demand-Economy options. You have to be able to plug into a job and be productive right out of the gate.”
In fact, according to AARP online (July 1, 2016), on-demand work lends itself to “the higher-paid professional positions. It does not lend itself well to somebody just out of school with no practical experience.”
ODE: a Profitable Business Model
Not only is ODE changing the meaning of work, it is a very profitable business model. BIA/Kelsey, a research and advisory firm, estimated the total market value for the local on-demand industry in 2016 at $34 billion in the United States, projecting it will reach $57 billion by the end of this year.
You might be wondering what kinds of services are part of this new way of doing business. You’ve heard of Lyft and Airbnb. But have you heard of DogVacay, Homejoy. Fiverr, Instacart, TaskRabbit, GoPuff, RelayRides, Valable, and Etsy? These are but a few of the hundreds of ODE services available that fill a diversity of consumer needs.
New Attract and Retain Strategies are Needed
Challenged by the freedom that ODE offers independent workers and the loss of a multitude of retirees leaving the workplace, companies will need to reconfigure their attract and retain strategies. But, will the established business sector change its work policies to hold onto good workers? Will they develop a new vision, update performance models, or demonstrate the value of diversity, which includes engaging an older workforce?
Actually, a more recent business model redesign is being attempted by some ODE companies, who now want to hire gig workers full-time. “Since it is starting to appear dangerous to build a business purely on the backs of contractors, a growing number of enterprising companies are betting their futures on marrying the appeal of the on-demand world with the security of traditional employment, providing full-time jobs with health insurance, an IRA and paid family leave,” sites Miranda Katz in her article for BackChannel for Wired Magazine (April 7, 2017).