EOR Perspective: Telltale Signs Contingent Labor Will Be the Next Thing

EOR Perspective: Telltale Signs Contingent Labor Will Be the Next Thing

Published August 18, 2020

The last few months have turned the business world upside-down. There have been many business lessons learned during COVID-19. Now, as the markets inch closer to something closer to “normal,” business leaders are beginning to ponder what the future really holds.

One of the big questions hanging over businesses is what demand will look like. Even economists can’t seem to agree on what comes next. Some feel the economy will bounce back strong, while others feel the economy could slow.

One thing is for sure: There are going to be changes as the economy transitions back to a new normal. Another prediction is that contingent labor is going to be the next big trend, especially as lockdowns end. These telltale signs are already pointing in that direction.

Employers Need More Flexibility

Perhaps the best sign contingent labor will be the biggest form of employment is the demand for flexibility in this post-lockdown period.

No one is quite sure what the trajectory of this novel coronavirus looks like. While many people hope the worst of it has passed, there’s a chance there will be a resurgence later in the year. 

As a result, employers like you may be faced with periods of high demand and fully or partially opened economies, followed by periods of lockdown. This means public health measures like social distancing and partial and full lockdowns remain on the table and will be part of employment models. 

As an employer, you need to be prepared to both ramp up production and to reduce it at a moment’s notice. 

Contingent labor helps you achieve this kind of flexibility with greater ease.

Budgets Are a Concern

Employers’ budgets are another reason why EORs and business experts agree that contingent labor will be the next big thing. While employers will need workers to restart their businesses, many have seen their finances hard-hit by the pandemic. 

In this environment, contingent workers can help employers like you avoid under-staffing and overstaffing issues. What’s more, relying on contingent labor can also protect your bottom line and help you survive any possible recession, while enabling you to still meet demand. 

Need for Creative Solutions in the Workplace

COVID-19 creates health risks in the workplace. Protecting the health and safety of workers will become a top priority.

This could mean asking employees to work in rotation: morning, afternoon, evening, and night. It could mean splitting shifts. You may be required to limit who is in the office and when in order to comply with public health guidelines. 

These scheduling issues are more easily overcome with a contingent workforce. 

Employees Want More Flexibility

For employers like you, workforce flexibility may be a necessity in these uncertain times. But employees also want flexible work arrangements. In fact, they’ve wanted these benefits long before the pandemic hit.

With so many people unemployed, many workers will be willing to consider positions they hadn’t considered before. Some will want temporary work to tide them over until their old positions are available or they can find similar positions elsewhere. Others may have concerns about safety in the workplace or need to stay home to take care of children out of school and daycare. They might want to consider part-time, flexible, contingent work that allows them to work when there’s work and stay home and be safe otherwise.

Consider these examples:

  • A flight attendant or restaurant server who was laid off may be willing to take on a temporary role until their role returns. 
  • Someone who has been laid off may take on a part-time or temporary role in the evenings while they watch their children at home during the day.
  • Students are looking for temporary employment, especially during the summer months.

Contingent Work Was on the Rise Anyway

Pre-pandemic, contingent work was already on the rise. Some estimates put the US workforce as being somewhere between 25 and 34% contingent labor. COVID-19 has simply accelerated this trend. 

As you can see, the trend toward contingent work reflects both employers’ and employees’ desire for greater flexibility. Contingent work can provide employees more control over their work-life balance or allow them more opportunities to explore career paths and build skills. For employers, contingent labor can increase their workforce flexibility and help with the bottom line. Using an employer of record (EOR) to pay contingent workers makes it an even easier choice to move towards the gig economy. 

Moving to Remote Work

A contingent workforce also allows for more remote work for positions that aren’t tied to the 9-5 or an office environment. It gives you an ability to hire anyone, anywhere to fulfill roles such as telemedicine, online teaching, online customer service, phone customer service, online sales/marketing, and more. These roles don’t need to be structured as 9-5 or 40-hour workweeks, and they may have flexibility built right in: work when there’s work, build a schedule that works for both employer and employee.

With the massive shift to remote work during the lockdown, many are predicting that employees will not want to come back to the office. 

As a result, another trend is on the rise, too: Remote working is likely to be the new norm. This is especially true as employers realize their employees are just as productive and effective from home, and that remote work reduces overhead costs. For employers, remote work also offers a competitive advantage when it comes to talent acquisition: They can hire from anywhere talented individuals exist instead of needing to ask people to relocate or only hiring those in the immediate vicinity. 

How to Prepare for the Coming Contingent Labor Market

The rise of contingent labor is here. To prepare for the coming contingent labor market, take stock of what your business needs from the standpoint of flexibility, remote work, budget needs, and demand projections. 

When it comes to contingent labor, don’t limit yourself to hiring in your geographic area: Think remote, and look for where the talent base exists. International companies looking to hire in the US have a great chance of finding talented individuals right now. Create a strategy for engaging this emerging labor market

If you’re unsure or have never hired or payrolled contingent workers before, get in touch with the experts. An EOR can help you navigate the labor market as it continues to evolve in response to this historic situation.