LBS reflects on the changing hues of the ‘Gig Economy’

Over the past 100 years or so society has seen several different colours added to the demographic ‘collars’ of those engaged in the workplace.

Gig economy

A colour to collar appellation has yet been properly devised for today’s on-demand model for employment – the so-called Gig Economy, perhaps because it is so fast-paced.  The Gig Economy is growing rapidly, with more than one million people in the UK making a living from gig work.  While the Uber drivers and Deliveroo bikers are the most visible players in the gig economy, they are actually outnumbered by white-collar workers. These mobile, business-literate professionals, who now increasingly include lawyers and accountants, manage their business ventures through websites, smartphones and an array of innovative virtual office services.

It is this changing world of work which is being considered at 'When the gig economy meets professional services', a conference at London Business School on 8th June. The conference will look at how professional services are adapting to the increasing mobility and fragmentation of work. Just as the on-demand economy has grown in popularity for craftsmen, chefs, pop-up retailers and so on, the same thing is happening to doctors, accountants, and many other trained professionals working across a wide number of vertical markets.

Increasingly, management consultants, accountants – even doctors and lawyers - have the means, motive and business acumen to work for themselves, as opposed to large, integrated companies. And research shows freelance professionals are often more satisfied and better off financially than they were when they worked for someone else. As the world of professional services embraces the gig economy, important questions arise: what is the future of the traditional professional service firm? Who will be the winners and losers? How will freelance work be managed in the future, and through what networks? And what are the smartest career choices people should make?

The conference has attracted a distinguished body of world-leading professionals, from academics to business people, all with significant experience in the frontline management of new and established industries. These leading professionals have been drawn together to discuss how the Gig Economy will continue to transform the world of work: from new online platforms and networks, which reduce the cost of business and increase accessibility, to an array of innovative services which offer more convenience, and reduced financial barriers.

Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School, said: “The conference promises to develop new insight into this emerging area of the economy. Studies suggest that gig work is growing faster than any other category of employment. Apart from shining a light on the growing army of self-employed workers working in the UK and around the world, the London Business School conference hopes to explore the external economic pressures behind this migration and growing transformation of the world of work.”