Just when we became somewhat accustomed to flex-time and virtual employees (now even entirely virtual companies), the economy sank into the great recession.  Companies reactively cut their staff to the bare bones, often removing critical strategic skills in the interim – cutting the proverbial nose to spite thy less-than-optimistic face!

Enter the Gig-Economy

They arrive with many titles: contingent workers, freelancers, open talent, etc.  I read the headlines from Forbes to CNN which focus on millennials and the “new economy” highlighting such breakout hits as Uber and AirBNB.  But, in reality, this new view on employment can solve the ever-missing strategic skills gap found in modern lean companies who thinned themselves to the point of an unhealthy emaciation.

Like the previously mentioned media darlings, companies (as do consumers) can benefit from temporary or even fractional help in satisfying immediate needs.  The key ingredient to these unicorns’ success is bi-directional trust – both trusting of your personal property as well as trusting in your personal safety.  I feel it important when expanding the relationship from an individual-individual to a company-individual model we need to also consider mutual respect – both respecting the individual for their tenure and current knowledge as well as respecting the company for its successes and current struggles.

Enter the Portable Employment

This is not a virtual or even a part-time employee – the skills needed are highly specialized from years of experience, but not necessarily required frequently enough to warrant extended, full employment.  Of course, many organizations comfortably outsource necessary functions such as year-end accounting – a critical need, but still outside the core competitive aspects of company strategy.

Highly skilled labor (desperately under-employed in many circles) are needed to address strategic guidance and significant analysis.  These persons can assist in identifying opportunities to spur growth and morph companies to reach their full potential.  They need to be viewed as temporary or fractional strategic partners – an important person that is not exclusive to a single employer.

Becoming Portable

To evolve into one of these portable employees, it is important to become comfortable in the unknown (as every successful consultant will attest) but also to be fully capable of interacting on a human level within the different cultures found in each organization you serve.  You become the inside outsider who is fulfilling mission critical needs, but for a small number of companies as opposed to a single loyalty.  Your skills become portable from one organization to another – of course, without crossing any competitive indiscretions!

Consultants have traditionally been seen as hired guns to straighten things out – too reminiscent of the O K Corral.    In today’s Gig-Economy, everyone can find mutual success by respectfully working together in new, modern ways.  This can save money for companies, provide mental stimulus to individuals, and bring strategic thinkers back to the front lines…. Just portable.