There’s no better time to get something than at exactly the moment you need it. The rapid growth of the “on-
demand” economy, where goods and services are ordered online and delivered promptly, has meant a new way of
doing business – and working.
In the U.S. and EU, 162 million people – around 20 to 30 percent of the workforce – are now working in the
on-demand economy, according to research from the McKinsey Global Institute. This workforce encompasses a wide
spectrum of professions – with everyone from consultants, coders and designers finding on-demand work via
platforms such as Upwork and Toptal, to handymen, plumbers and carpenters finding clients through TaskRabbit
and Rated People. If companies are looking to utilize this workforce and retain the talent they need, they
have to understand why and how people become on-demand workers.
The on-demand economy has fundamentally changed the nature of the employer-employee relationship with the
“employees” consisting of a pool of affiliated workers, from which the firm either draws or simply connects
This new structure has far-reaching implications. Firstly, if the definition of “employee” changes, so does
the very idea of engagement. “It’s no longer about engaging an employee long-term,” says Pete Sanborn,
Managing Director, Human Capital Advisory, Aon, “but instead ensuring that the individual is excited by and
outperforming on a specific project.”
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