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Hot topic: The evolving gig economy, part two

Are we witnessing the death of the gig economy as traditional businesses try to join in?

Uber and Addison Lee are both facing significant legal challenges to their operating models and treatment of workers. Gig economy startup TaskRabbit has been bought by IKEA. Do these events herald the death of the gig economy? Or will it continue to evolve and survive?

Kim Castelda, chief people officer at Bullhorn, says:

"IKEA’s acquisition of TaskRabbit is evidence that the gig economy is thriving, not dying. When a brick and mortar retail giant seizes the opportunity to acquire a gig economy company that’s validation of the salience and financial strength of that company.

"And this is only the beginning. We will increasingly see forward-thinking businesses seeking to exert influence over the evolution of the gig economy. The form that this influence takes, however, will depend on whether these businesses treat the gig economy as a friend or foe.

"Recruitment businesses, for example, may seem naturally at odds with the gig economy, but many see it as an opportunity for growth. A survey conducted at Bullhorn Live revealed that 78% of recruiters will embrace the changes spurred by the gig economy in the years to come.

"For recruiters there are two ways to look at it. Online talent platforms like TaskRabbit and Upwork are starting to take over easier to fill roles that would traditionally fall within the remit of recruiters. At the same time, these platforms also represent potential strategic partners and valuable talent pools for recruiters striving to address skills shortages in key areas."

David Frost, group organisational development director for Total Produce, says:

"Having worked in industries with lots of flexible labour and lots of flexible recruitment, I think the term ‘gig economy’ can be overused. It was created to describe a particular situation, but I see it getting misused often. In actuality we have a flexible workforce culture.

"Brexit and the ageing workforce might cause some issues for the flexible working economy. Employers are going to have to start thinking about different ways to bring people in flexibly – if that’s what they need to do – and that could potentially mean offering longer-term opportunities.

"We might see employers starting to pay a premium for flexible workers. Already those at the higher end of the skills spectrum command a higher price when taken on for a flexible arrangement. We don’t yet see that at the lower end of the skills range, but we could in the future. It’s a classic case of supply and demand."

Read the first part of this hot topic