The Gig Mentality Is Growing Inside Organizations

The gig mentality brings a sense of freedom, openness, engagement and accountability, inside and outside organizations. The gig mentality in the workplace should be embraced, not resisted. After I gave the opening keynote at IntranetReloaded in Berlin, where I talked about how the gig mentality can create a feeling of chaos, many people came up to me over the two-day conference. They talked about how they see signs of the gig mentality in their own organizations. Many asked how to encourage it.

I’ve been a gig worker for years. Here’s how I work.

As a gig worker, I have no boss, other than my clients. Even then, I can always choose to take a project or not. I can say yes or no. I have no job title and my role differs project by project. I am self-managed, organizing when and where I work. I have a lot of pressure to succeed assuming I want to get more clients, more projects. I have no guaranteed income. I have high months and low months. I’m on the move a lot, working from the TGV train, a café, the lobby of my clients’ premises and often from my home office. I have a large network, built up over years. I’m responsible for my own learning. I’m responsible for my personal brand. Twitter is my top source for new ideas, knowing what’s going on the professional world I live in.

What are the signs that the gig mentality is happening inside organization?

For the last few years I have seen many people, salaried, inside organizations, showing signs of behavior much like mine.

  • People move fluidly from project to project, changing roles and bosses (meaning project owners) more often, sometimes from completely different departments and functions.
  • Many don’t have job titles, often just generic names of departments on their email signatures.
  • They are self-managed, choose where they work to a greater extent than a few years ago (home, office, on the road) and may no longer have an individual office on the company premises.
  • Reputation and personal branding are important to them. They take care to build and nurture it internally and externally.
  • The people I see are more networked than a few years ago. They are active on their enterprise social network, and participate in online communities.
  • Even more importantly they are frequently members of external, peer-to-peer networking groups made up of people from other organizations.

Here are some areas where organizations with a gig mentality orientation are from 10 to 25 percentage points higher than the full survey average:*

  • They use more video, and are more likely to make videos accessible outside corporate walls.
  • It is easier to learn in the natural flow of work.
  • Their digital workplaces have a greater geographical reach within the organization.
  • They see the future workplace as a coordinated digital eco-system, not as one or two platforms as do most organizations.
  • They invest much more on user experience when designing their workplaces.
  • There is a much higher degree of trust in the gig mentality organizations with close colleagues, and twice as high compared to most companies for people in other parts of the organization as well as for global management.

There are many other differences as well, and I’ll be writing about them later.

“The Organization in the Digital Age” survey, data from end of 2016.

The gig mentality is important for organizations today. Why?

Organizations have long been bureaucratized, and turned into places where people work because they need to earn a living. The gig mentality brings new energy, an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to learn.

My next research initiative.

My next research project is focused on digging into the gig mentality inside organizations: what it means for people, leadership and work cultures. What are the risks and opportunities and how are organizations are dealing with it — encouraging, moderating or ignoring! One thing for sure, the latter two won’t work!