The future of work is here. Last week consulting firm Ernst and Young announced the launch of GigNow in India — a platform for professionals looking for short-term projects or flexible arrangements with the company.
Six months ago, Noble House Consulting, founded by veteran HR leaders Sumer Datta and Sanjay Lakhotia, opened a talent marketplace for HR professionals looking for freelance gigs.
The uberisation of white-collar jobs has finally begun in India — gig platforms have arrived and are taking off. EY’s GigNow, which started as a pilot in the US before spreading to other countries, has already attracted 700 applications in India. EY says 400 applications are in consideration, and 25-plus hires have been made in three months. The platform shows 392 gigs available. On the Noble House platform there are 300 consultants registered and it shows around 20 available assignments.
EY’s GigNow is purely to fill internal needs. Currently the contractual workforce at EY is about 7 to 8 per cent. “Our idea is to take it to 15 to 20 per cent over the next three years,” says Sandeep Kohli, partner and talent leader at EY, outlining the thought behind starting GigNow.
He highlights the benefits — cost savings, easy ramp-up and scale-downs based on peaks and troughs in business, and quick ability to tap specialised skills that EY might not have right now.
In the future, the composition of the workforce will be different, shares Kohli. The permanent employees will be those with core skills, while for specialised skills they would rather pick up from the market. “To fuel adoption internally,” he says “we are reaching out to each and every business in the organisation to showcase the benefits of gig economy in the same fashion we used to press the business case for diversity”.
Noble House platform
While EY’s GigNow is purely for its own internal purposes, NobleHouse’s platform is a third-party matchmaking site. Companies can post their jobs and professionals can upload their CVs on it, algorithms will match the assignments with the projects. A sample assignment on the site is a role documentation expert who will be required to conduct role clarity workshops. Other jobs include a six-month project for a recruitment lead and so on.
While eventually both platforms will be fully AI-driven, right now at the early stages, there is manual intervention. EY has dedicated three recruitment experts to help in matchmaking and assess the CVs. Over time, as the machines learn, it could be more automated. The key challenge in the gig world, says Noble House’s Sanjay Lakhotia, is the assurance of quality. Also there are pricing dilemmas, contracting issues and so on. Noble House also offers an added value to contractors — to assess quality. It is also building a repository of methodologies.
Is there enough demand and supply? Are Indian companies ready? Both Lakhotia and Kohli point to the encouraging number of assignments posted in a short span as well as CVs upload without any real external marketing push.
But companies do need to reorient processes to be ready for the gig world. EY, as Kohli points out, not just had to create a site but a complete infrastructure to be ready to get its businesses aligned to the idea. For EY it made sense to roll out GigNow in India, he says as the firm is very large here and hiring a lot. According to some reports, by 2020, 43 per cent of the US workforce (60 million people) will be “liquid” or freelance, from 29 per cent in 2015. The same winds are blowing in India too.