Transporting passengers via Uber, delivering food via Lieferando or translating texts on Fiverr – all these jobs can be defined as gigs. Due to remote work, digital nomadism and globalization, demand for the new way of working is growing. And for corporations, gig workers offer more transparency, flexibility and promise higher efficiency.
On this Page:
- Gigs, higification and gig economy – what does it mean?
- Ready for gigification - How can communicators identify tasks, to transfer them into a gig?
- What does the trend mean for communications professionals?
Gigs, higification and gig economy – what does it mean?
Gigification describes the division of projects and large tasks into small and completely independent jobs (“gigs”). The gig economy (also: platform economy, on-demand economy) refers to a job market based on such small task jobs that are mediated through digital platforms. Gigs can be defied into two types:
- Performed in real life: Workers are assigned jobs via the respective platform, which they then execute, typical examples are Uber (point-to-point transportation) or Delivery Hero (food delivery services).
- Performed digitally: Such gigs are mostly mediated via crowd-based platforms. These platforms serve as a marketplace where individuals can offer or accept small jobs. These jobs can then be completed regardless of location. Well-known examples include Amazon Mechanical Turk (for microtasks such as filling out surveys) or Kaggle (for data science and machine learning).
Ready for gigification?
How can communication leaders identify tasks that are ready to be transformed into a gig? To answer this question, managers have to carefully examine the operations of their department and analyze activities on the task level. The three questions help to determine whether a task can easily be gigified:
“Although the concept is definitely interesting, for many of our communication services, the context, the relationship, and an understanding of who we are and what we want is needed. That’s a challenge that needs to be solved by gig workers in order to fully unfold the potential of this trend.”
Dr. Nina Schwab-Hautzinger, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications & Government Relations, BASF
Recommendations for communication experts
1. Know the benefits, understand the function and challenges of Gigification.
Advantages for communication departments are:
- Distributing tasks flexible, e.g., when team members are absent due to illness or vacation and no capacity is available.
- Saving costs and time: Searching and comparing vendors, pitch presentations and coordination efforts are eliminated, everything can be done on a gig platform.
- Finding experts and talents: Whether remote work or digital nomadism, gigs help meet the demand for new work models, attracting previously inaccessible talent.
2. Develop suitable use cases and identify strengths and weaknesses for your own department in pilot projects. Three basic scenarios are conceivable:
- Purchase services via gig platforms: Edit photos, create illustrations, translate interviews. Communicators can test how the services compare to traditional service providers and inhouse productions in terms of quality or time.
- Design your own platform for gigworkers: Such platforms help advertise gigified tasks and projects, to which gigworkers can then apply. Among other things, this gives more control over ensuring that gig workers are paid a fair wage with no agency fees.
- Organize tasks internally as gigs and thereby promote agile structures: Individual, non-specialized tasks can be posted on an internal team platform and the employees in the communications department can then decide which tasks they take on, when and where to complete them.
3. Be aware of the criticism: Gig workers lack pension entitlements, enjoy less job security, and are not part of the team. These disadvantages can quickly become a risk for the company as the gig economy is often publicly criticized for its insecure working conditions.
Key Facts about the 5 trends
- Language Anwareness: Linguistic diversity such as gender sensitivity is increasingly discussed in society today. This shifts the focus of discussions from the actual content to the choice of words and phrasing. Communication managers will have to meet the expectations of different stakeholders and cultures while keeping in mind content and usability.
- Closed Communication: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the retreat into the private sphere. Private messaging services like Telegram, Signal and Threema are popular examples of closed communication using partly hidden platforms. As a result, media use is shifting from public to private media environments. For communicators, more and more interactions between stakeholders are becoming invisible.
- Gigification: The division of projects and large tasks into "gigs" works for companies in the gig economy such as Uber, Lieferando or Fiverr. The demand for gigs is rapidly increasing due to remote work, digital nomadism, and globalization. Corporate communications can outsource various tasks as gigs; for example, creative tasks, text layout, presentation design, and software development can already be performed as gigs.
- Synthetic Media is no longer a futuristic scenario. The underlying technology has recently matured to a level where the content produced appears highly realistic. It will become relevant for corporate communications as organizations can use e. g. avatars to revive the own history or to enhance the customer experience. How can this risky technology be useful for communications?
- Cybersecurity: The number of Cyberattacks is rising rapidly every year. Cyberattacks are “the new normal” and can cause substantial financial and reputational damage. Organizations become more vulnerable due to the increased digitalization or the introduction of unapproved software in the workplace. What can communications leader do, to prepare the organization against cyberattacks?
- Sources & screening: First, information sources which provide relevant insights into the professional discourse in the areas of management, technology, and society were monitored and screened. These sources primarily include recent publications from scientific journals and conferences in the respective domains, but also selected newspapers (e.g., Economist Science and Technology), magazines (e.g., Harvard Business Review, Wired), social news sites (e.g., Reddit Science), blogs and websites (e.g., ReadWrite, The Next Web), whitepapers, and corporate trend reports.
- Trend profiles: Each potential trend was systematically documented in a trend profile consisting of a brief description and several criteria estimating the trend’s relevance to corporate communications. Specifically, the research team assessed the impact of the trend on the corporate communications function, processes and management.
- Scoring: Based on the criteria detailed in the trend profiles, a scoring method was developed that was used to rate each of the trends.
- Selection: These trends were first discussed among the Communications Trend Radar team during a workshop. Each team member then voted individually for the top trends in the areas of management, technology, and society. We proposed five trends for 2022 (depicted below) based on the outcome of this process.
- Reflection: These trends were examined further and later discussed with communication leaders during an online workshop in November 2021.
- Report: All trends were analyzed and described in more detail in our publication - the Communications Trend Radar.
The Communications Trend Radar 2022 project was conducted by a research team of the Leipzig and the University of Duisburg-Essen.
from left to right:
- Stefan Stieglitz is Professor for Digital Communication and Transformation Professional at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
- Daniel Ziegele, M.A. is a research associate at the Institute for Communication and Media Studies at Leipzig University, Germany.
- Sünje Clausen, M.Sc. is a research associate at the chair of Digital Communication and Transformation at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
- Ansgar Zerfass is Professor and Chair of Strategic Communication at the Institute for Communication and Media Studies at Leipzig University, Germany.