Gopal A Iyer, Talent Leader & Gig Economy Expert

“By 2025, gig workers – freelance, independent, and contract workers – will outnumber traditional employees.” Gopal A Iyer, Talent Leader & Gig Economy Expert.

What would Gig talent in 2021 will mean to Talent leaders. What benefits can it bring to their organization meeting expectations of demanding business requirements, including cost? 

We live in a VUCA World, a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous world. The Future of Work is already here. The way we live and work, today is very different from how it was ten years ago.  

COVID-19 has been the biggest disruptor in recent times. 2021 Workforce would continue to evolve dramatically. Organizations have been experimenting with several workforce models that include Virtual Talent, Agile workforce, Hybrid Talent, and Talent Clouds as we continued to redefine work itself. 

Organizations are more and more focusing on Gig Talent due to the following reasons.


  1. Talent On-Demand - Gig provides organizations agility to hire talent on-demand, which is unavailable in traditional hiring methods. 
  2. Another attractive proposition with Gig Professionals is that they are highly Skilled Professionals already trained on Next Generation Skills.
  3. Gig Professionals are best suited for our ever-changing demands.
  4. Hiring people on gig ensures reduced cycle time which means earlier billability and revenue realizations.  

The working world is changing, fast. Business resilience is critical during times of change, which requires a more agile and flexible workforce, including a mix of full-time employees and contractors, to access the best talent around the world, when and where we need it.

What should be the people process approach of Talent leaders to design a talent pipeline plan for 2021 having an amalgamation of both Full time gig workforce? 

CXO's, CHRO's, and business leaders in large corporates and multinational organizations need to have a clear strategic vision of their organizations in 5 - 10 years. 

What would their focus be, what would their workforce look like? How much percentage of the workforce would be full-time employees vs how much would be the peripheral workforce. 

One of the most important things for organizations to work towards is redefining organizational culture to help businesses adapt to new working ways. Line managers need to be coached and trained and taken into confidence to ensure seamless adoption and ensure they are part of this change.  

This requires a significant amount of mindset shift to ensure managers are trained to look for skills vs the number of years of experience, certifications vs academic qualifications, cultural fit vs right person for the job, loyalty vs getting the job done attitude.  

Organizational leadership and entire support ecosystem also need to adapt to this change to ensure Freelancers/Gig workers are treated with fairness, respect and that the processes around hiring, onboarding, payroll/invoicing, grievance redressal and most importantly performance management are in tune with that of needs of Gig workers.  

As an ongoing process, companies should keep asking themselves, what work is appropriate for Gig workers vs what is not. 

While the gig economy grows, there is still a sense of uncertainty among gig talent to find the right opportunities, get clients, get paid on time, or the fear of being exploited by the industry. What's your share of opinion advice to both employers and gig workers? 

Contracting/Subcontracting or Gig Working isn't new. However, the recent popularity of Gig workers is due to the rise of the Platform Economy.


Transitioning to a gig world requires an entrepreneurial mindset or say Gig mindset. This mindset is fundamental to enable a freelancer to get clients, find the right opportunities and even get paid on time.

Getting Organized:

As a freelancer, being organized is the next important thing. It could be a pitch, a portfolio or a business proposition. Being prepared on how one wants to pitch a client and work samples. 

Important of all is to define how and where one can add value to his/her clients. It's not about getting the job done, its how one will do it that matters.  

Collecting feedback and testimonials from clients and presenting work as case studies to others helps acquire new clients. Referrals are also another way to acquire new clients.


Building a network is extremely essential in freelancing. Be it through LinkedIn or any other professional networks. Making connections alone is not enough. Nurturing that relationship or building that relationship is very important. 

This is the first step to prospecting. A very important step to follow up is engage with potential clients and offer them a preview of your work, services and even be willing to do a couple of projects free to win client confidence. 

This is how you can win their trust and keep up a long-term relationship. 

Finally, keep in touch with your clients. 


Before one decides how much to charge, one needs to do some research—reaching out to other freelancers to ask what they charge for similar work. Platforms like Upwork, and others provide great insights to average rates for your field. 

One shouldn't forget the aspect of the borderless world reality. In Global clients' case, one should research and understand how much other freelancers are charging in that specific country or location.

Applying Project Management fundamentals is also key to understanding the project/work and negotiating the right price for the project. 

There are various ways to charge—hourly Billing, Monthly Retainer, Outcome-based Fees, etc. One should evaluate the project/task well before deciding the right mode of charging the client.

Career Ownership:

 People should own their charter to upskill for their roles. Today, most organizations invest in digital skilling platforms, but the onus to leverage it still lies with their employees. Moreover, there is a growing need to develop a "Life Long Learner Mindset". 

The first step is to ask yourself: 

  • Do the skills I possess, have any demand? 
  • What's the outlook for these skills? 
  • What skills could I work on today that would increase my income potential in the coming years?

One should do this exercise every few years, to be precise every 2 to 3 years, because, If the half-life of a job skill is about five years (meaning that every five years, that skill is about half as valuable as it was before), you want to get ahead of that decline in value.


Which sectors can benefit most why they should opt for gig talent?

According to the EY Contingent workforce study, nearly 50% of the organizations have seen a rise in the contingent workforce in the last five years. This number will only continue to grow as the companies have shifted from experience-based hiring to skill-based hiring practices.  

COVID-19 has been an accelerant in digitization and a contributor to many new digital businesses. Be it technologies that allow touch-free experience or technology that predicts and prevents any form of pandemics like these. The urge to keep our businesses and ourselves safe will only continue to grow. This pandemic has changed the way we look at things that include even the way we work now. With every bit of digital innovation coming our way, digitization will only reshape the future of work.  

How does the future look like:

Banking, BPO's, Consulting, Professional Services, Captive Organizations all would enter Gig economy a lot more boldly than ever before. 


Note: All views expressed in this article are personal and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I am, I have been or I will be affiliated.



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