Uberisation has oozed into cloistered University campuses. Many universities have faculty who deliver supervisions but who have precarious contracts. This is bad for students, the faculty and any prospect of departments having a rigorous research agenda. In the finance industry, the pandemic shuttering of businesses in 2020, and the meteoric rise of remote work, permitted banks to streamline training modules to cross-train side-lined branch workers. The additional workers helped the bank to manage the shift to contactless payments. The supporting workers came from former branch personnel and their knowledge of the bank’s processes, products, and culture helped maintain high levels of customer experience (CX).
Leaders learned that this internal “gig worker” approach is a viable solution for managing future spikes in demand, whether from catastrophes or seasonally-based capacity increases. The Covid-19 portal gave employees new opportunities—to work flexibly, learn new skills, and even chart new career adventures. The two methods, externally and internally sourced, constitute the core of what is defined as “gig customer-experience operations,” or Gig CX. The use of internal talent in a “gig” manner is new and has its own set of advantages as companies gain flexibility and optimize staffing by moving away from shift models to more on-demand patterns.
The factors underpinning the gig economy are intricate. A weak economy combined with new technological advances, the emergence of new platforms connecting gig workers with bespoke talent, and the rise of the sharing economy have all contributed to its emergence. New staffing models have come to rely on gig-style talent. Once managed carefully, this job option gives client care the horsepower and flexibility it needs for today’s increasingly volatile markets.
In 2016, judges presiding over a milestone UK employment tribunal stated: “The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common “platform” is to our minds faintly ridiculous.” The empathetic ruling thrilled thousands of workers entombed in bogus self-employment traps. The judgement offered a fresh remedy for workers at firms with large self-employed workforces and startups that used the Uber model. In fact, the ruling was a statutory lesson for businesses who sought to arbitrarily “classify” workers as contractors to avoid affording the workers their full rights and benefits.
Old-fashioned exploitation veiled under new-fangled jargon and pallid arguments were insufficient to convince the far-sighted members of the tribunal. In the end, it was ruled that Uber drivers were not self-employed workers and must benefit from the “national living wage.” Research by “Citizens Advice” at that time, suggested that over 460,000 people could have been wrongfully classified as self-employed, costing up to £314m a year in lost taxes and employer national insurance contributions. Uber filed an appeal.
But the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom dismissed the appeal. Six justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom handed down unanimous decisions supporting the October 2016 employment tribunal ruling that paved the way for better terms and conditions for a multitude of gig workers. In dismissing Uber’s appeal, the Supreme Court of the UK held that drivers should be classified as workers with access to vacation with pay and minimum wage.
Uber, like courier and delivery companies, have argued that its drivers were independent self-employed “partners”. The Lord Justices of the Supreme Court of the UK rejected any attempt by employers everywhere to draft artificial contracts intended to circle around basic employment protections. In the harbour of contracts law, artificial agreements remian void and unenforceable. The Justices were alarmed by the controversial contracts which had as their object terms that preclude a driver from claiming rights conferred on workers by innumerable pieces of applicable employment law.
The fact that Uber exercised levels of control over its drivers including setting fares and not releasing passengers’ destinations until they were picked up suggested that they were not self-employed. The landmark judgement made it clear that Uber must consider drivers as workers from the time they log on to the App, and until they logged off. The size of the gig economy is not easy to measure for a range of reasons. Gallup used what it described as a “broad definition” in 2018 to estimate that thirty-six per cent of US workers had a gig-work arrangement in some capacity.
Out-dated metrics, oversight, and performance-management standards don’t always align with gig-talent models of work. Standard scorecards that emphasize availability and schedule adherence are misaligned. A shift to more outcome-based scorecards is already in the making. Institutions are already using dedicated gig-model providers to onboard more specialized, experienced workers, or high-quality gig agents to headhunt for on-demand work. These firms usually assign their agents a minimum of ten to twenty hours a week to guarantee continuity and income for the workers and to give the companies sufficient exposure to the quality of the work produced by the worker to measure performance.
Regulators in Spain and the United Kingdom have started enforcing new regulations on gig labour. Managing the issues around gig work requires sensitivity to explicit legal requirements, and commitments by companies to raise environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards. Due diligence on the legislative and social context of gig-based models is indispensable.