How to Use the Gig Economy to Your Advantage

 In Association Management

Lyft, Uber, GrubHub, Postmates… what does your organization have in common with these businesses? They all benefit from the emerging gig economy. And the good news is that your association, too, is in a position to take advantage of this opportunity.

The evolving employment marketplace is now flooded with so-called “gig” workers, which are defined as workers with multiple or sequential short-term positions. This new wave is powerful, and there are many reasons you may want to be part of it. In this piece, we’ll explore how the gig economy works, and how associations can use freelance or gig workers to their advantage.

When to go for it.

Is your board excellent at coming up with projects you don’t have staff resources to implement? While there’s never a shortage of great ideas and opportunities, these new initiatives can often overwhelm your association’s already-full plate. Such projects often don’t come with corresponding budgets for the necessary additional staff. Instead of ignoring these opportunities or inundating your team, consider handing these projects off to a qualified freelancer. This allows the work to get done without obligating the association to a permanent headcount increase.

Do you need specific expertise for your project, but don’t have it in-house? There are many retired association professionals with decades of experience who are still interested in contributing their knowledge to the association community. The gig economy is a great way to capture the skills you need without a long-term commitment.

How to get started.

As an association professional, you likely already have a solid network of colleagues, former colleagues, consultants, friends and acquaintances you’ve encountered along the way and whose work you’ve been impressed by. Once you start asking around, you might be surprised to learn how many of them also work as freelancers, or know others who do. Build your contact list now so that you will have a starting point when you do need help.

A great source of potential freelancers are former employees who have relocated or retired, and may be willing to take on project work. Assuming that you parted on good terms, it can be easy to work with them since they already know your culture, your board and the rest of your team.

A new resource for matching gig workers with associations needing freelance help is currently being developed and is expected to launch this fall. You can check it out at https://orgcommunity.com/orgfreelancer/

How to manage them.

Finding the right freelancer is only the first step. Managing a gig worker requires a different structure. You’ll need to hammer out details like:

  • How the gig worker will access the necessary resources
  • How often the gig worker will be expected to communicate and with whom
  • The specific scope of the project
  • Project deadlines
  • Exactly what deliverables are expected
  • Who will own the completed work How work will be submitted

Once you are aligned, create a written agreement that includes all of the details. Spell out exactly what you are looking for, the reporting structure, who owns the work when and how it will be delivered, and how the freelancer will be compensated If some expenses are to be reimbursed, be sure to spell those out as well.

Finally, make sure you are aware of the legal and tax requirements regarding freelance workers. You can’t simply hire a worker on contract and treat them as though they were an employee, potentially circumventing important worker protection laws. The IRS has a specific set of guidelines to help you determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor – meaning a gig or freelance worker. You can see them here:

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/independent-contractor-self-employed-or-employee

Your relationship with your freelancer is much like any other business relationship. You need to build trust on both sides. Treat your workers with respect, and provide transparency about your decisions.

We hope this gives you some insight into how associations can take advantage of the current employment marketplace. If you have questions, or want some general guidance on your association’s next move, contact FrontlineCo today. We’re excited to hear from you.

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