The gig economy is booming, and it's having a major impact on field service operations.
The pandemic has increased customer demand for field service, and businesses are struggling to keep up. Hiring more full-time employees is not always feasible, so most FSM businesses are turning to the gig economy.
The gig economy allows businesses to hire workers on an as-needed basis, which is a huge advantage during peak times. Gig workers are also typically more flexible and cost-effective than traditional employees, saving service businesses significant time and money.
In this article, let’s take a closer look at the impact of the gig economy on field service operations and how it is changing the way field service businesses operate.
Who are gig workers?
Gig workers, also known as contractors or subcontractors, are independent workers. They may work part-time or full-time, but what characterizes their work is flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance. Although gig workers possess the necessary skills and qualifications to perform any service task, their commitment is strictly temporary.
Is there a future for the gig economy?
The culture of gig work has become predominant in the US post-pandemic. According to a Gallup report, approximately 36% of US workers participate in the gig economy through either their primary or secondary jobs.
The report also claims that almost 50% of the US workforce will shift gears and give gig work a try by 2027. This is great news for the US labor market and the B2C industry as the demand for skilled workers continues to increase. So, it would seem, at least for now, that the future of the gig economy is exceptionally bright.
Why do field service management operations turn to gig workers?
The answer is quite simple. The pandemic significantly changed the landscape of field service operations. It was a time for the world to witness and embrace digital transformation, and most FSM businesses have embraced the change successfully.
Now, technology runs the world, and the significance of IoT in reshaping the field service industry cannot be denied. Although this change has been positive, customer expectations have reached an all-time high.
The rise in customer service calls is creating a high demand for gig workers. Even though the service industry has streamlined work order operations using field service management software, the gap for field technicians who need to make a field visit cannot be bridged with technology.
As customers expect quick responses and instant service delivery, service businesses rely on the gig economy to fulfill service calls, enhance the customer experience, and ultimately grow their business.
How the gig economy is impacting field operations?
Now let's delve into the topic of how the gig economy impacts field service operations. The gig economy brings both positive and negative impacts to the field service industry. Read on to explore the pros and cons of tapping into the gig economy to scale your workforce.
Positive impacts of the gig economy
1. Possess a flexible work schedule
Gig workers are available for flexible work 24x7, which is precisely what field service businesses require. They need workers who can cover their work and get paid whenever needed. Moreover, the gig economy offers flexibility and saves time because there is no intermediary involved. Based on the work description, you can connect with a qualified gig worker who will assist you in completing the job.
2. Meets on-demand services
Implementing the gig economy in field service allows you to fulfill your customer's on-demand needs, instantly. For example, if a customer requests urgent service for cleaning an A/C, you cannot refuse. However, if no technician is available, you can easily book a gig worker to get the job done immediately. Also, gig workers enable service provision in areas that were previously inaccessible.
3. Works for lower wages
Most surveys and reports indicate that gig worker salaries lie within the margins of the labor market compared to traditional workers. However, this doesn't mean gig workers settle for lower wages and perform excessive work. On the contrary, gig work often serves as a side hustle for extra income. Nonetheless, this is advantageous for the field service industry as it can reduce operational expenses.
Negative impacts of the gig economy
1. Lack of organizational readiness
Many field service businesses are not yet fully prepared to use gig workers. This is because gig workers have different expectations and needs as opposed to traditional, full-time employees. Also, gig workers may not be familiar with the business's brand and values. All these reasons may make FSM businesses aversive to hiring gig workers.
2. Lack of commitment
As gig workers offer temporary services, they may not be committed to the long-term success of a business. This can lead to problems such as a lack of continuity or follow-up, poor documentation of job details, and a decrease in first-time fix rates.
3. Poor brand representation
Gig workers heighten the risk of damaging a brand's reputation. Independent contractors may not be familiar with the business's values or standards, and as a result, they may not represent the business in a positive way. Improper brand representation can have a negative impact on the overall image of a service business.
How service businesses can capitalize on the gig economy
Here are a few tips that field service businesses can follow to overcome the challenges of using gig workers to scale their workforce.
1. Screening gig workers carefully
When screening gig workers, you should look for workers with the skills and experience necessary to do the job. While you are at it, also ask for references and perform a thorough background verification from work experience to criminal records.
2. Providing adequate training
Provide your gig workers with appropriate training on how your business operates, what your quality standards are, and the unique procedures followed by your employees. Empowering your independent contractors with an intelligent FSM mobile app will help them perform quality work and ensure consistency.
3. Monitoring gig workers
Monitor the performance of your gig workforce to ensure that they are meeting their field service KPIs like customer satisfaction, average miles traveled, idle time, mean-time-to-repair, and more. A field service management solution can help service businesses stay on top of their gig worker’s performance.
4. Complying with labor laws
When employing gig workers for your service tasks, you need to comply with all applicable labor laws and report compensations made to independent contracts accurately using the 1099-NEC form. While these can be complex and time-consuming, it is important to follow through to avoid potential legal problems.
5. Sourcing from trusted marketplaces
With its nationwide network of skilled contractors, Field Nation can help service businesses connect, engage, and hire the right talent they need. The Zuper-Field Nation integration offers businesses increased visibility and control over field operations and the field team's performance.
The gig economy has a major impact on field service delivery. By understanding the challenges and opportunities of the gig economy, FSM businesses can use it to their advantage, scale their workforce, fulfill on-demand customer requests, and deliver an exceptional customer experience.
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