The classic saying goes ‘Get on your bike and find work’. Well times have changed. The gig economy has literally spun this around to ‘Find work and get on your bike’. Of course that doesn’t mean the gig economy is only about bicycle couriers, but it gives a graphic illustration as to how much it has disrupted the traditional model of employment.
We don’t know what the far future of work will look like, there’s lots of talk and angst around the potential impact of Robots and Artificial Intelligence, but in the near term the gig economy is here to stay, growing and assuming some dominance. We as olderworkers therefore need to address this phenomena. How do we make it work for us?
To make it work we need to bring about change. Any benefit for olderworkers requires lots of change. In its broadest sense we need to bring an end to Ageism. That’s a big task. Society, Business, even ourselves would need to undergo a paradigm mind-shift. That’s not going to happen overnight. And waiting for that is not helpful for olderworkers right now. We need something immediately — we need to create our own segment of the gig economy.
What we need is infrastructure. That’s how the world runs. Nothing works in isolation. I’ve been thinking of 3 core components for such an infrastructure:
>A Place to Work.
>Support Services you need for Work.
>The Opportunity for Work.
This order is not hierarchical. So I can see a logic for putting Opportunity first. Indeed Opportunity is everything. It’s access to your marketplace and your potential customers. Opportunity will rarely come knocking at your door, and unless you have unique and highly saleable skills and an ace list of prospective clients, you’ll need some way of accessing that Opportunity.
I’m going to illustrate these 3 core components by way of real world examples. I hasten to add that I have not discussed this infrastructure model with any of the parties concerned. Nothing I say represents their views. I do though believe that combined in such a fashion they could bring about substantial positive change for olderworkers.
The whole idea I’m outlining here came about after I learned, just a few days ago, of the creation of a new Trades Union for the Self-Employed here in the UK. (Everything I write in this blog entry is UK-centric, but I see no reason why it could not be replicated in other domains). This new Trades Union is a co-venture of ‘Community’, and ‘IndyCube’.
It occurred to me that everything it was planning to offer Self-Employed workers in general (ie addressing the issue of late payments), would be germane for olderworkers pushed into freelancing as a result of Ageism. There’s no other organisation batting for them like that.
Dealing with all the problematic housekeeping stuff could be a real shock for those emerging from a corporate cloister. Such support could be the difference between success and failure.
In my mind this was rapidly becoming a piece in a potentially very interesting jigsaw puzzle. And then as an added bonus I discovered that IndyCube ran physical co-working spaces and a virtual network of freelancers and independents. Another piece!
Two other components now readily occurred to me: RetirementWorks, ‘a virtual marketplace that allows retired professionals to sell their experience to the younger generation’ — currently a work-in-progress on Kickstarter. This was the access to Opportunity piece.
The next piece was a person, Tim Drake, whose new book ‘Generation Cherry’ — a guide to work after Retirement or Redundancy — I was reading (I’ll be reviewing on my blog shortly). What Tim was saying, both on a business and a personal level, I found immensely helpful. That was another crucial Support piece.
If we could only integrate all of these elements, creating an affiliate infrastructure …
>A Place to Work — could be flexible managed spaces with access to a network of potential work partners.
>Support Services you need for Work — could be a Trade Union for the Self-Employed with all the membership benefits that would entail; and a coaching programme (along the lines of Generation Cherry) equipping olderworkers with the mindset to succeed.
>The Opportunity for Work — could be a work / worker matching jobsite where olderworkers were the focus.
… Damn it! The pieces are all there already! Bit of joined up thinking and we could create the very infrastructure olderworkers need …
Community are @communityunion on Twitter and community-tu.org on the web.
IndyCube is @indycube on Twitter and indycube.community on the web.
RetirementWorks are @retirementworks on Twitter and retirementworks.co.uk on the web.
Tim Drake is @thedraketeam on Twitter and timdrake.co.uk on the web.