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Ensure a Positive Candidate Experience When Hiring Contingent Talent Remotely

As digitization, coupled with the global pandemic, propels contingent hiring online and with more individuals relying on employer reviewer sites to evaluate businesses, delivering a positive[...]

March 10, 2021

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Social Media, the Gig Economy, and the Future of Work

The gig economy and social media are closely related. The two have grown side by side, and both have forever changed the way we work, live, and play. But has the internet brought us together or isolated us? It seems that despite being connected by a web of technology, we are segregated. Social media is siloed. Gig workers are on their own. Big Data knows more about us than we know about each other. Perhaps there’s a future of work in which technology can bring us back together?

The Birth of a Modern Workforce

The explosion of the gig economy is congruent with the rise of social media. CraigsList and Facebook were the early pioneers of the changing digital landscape. When the recession hit in 2008, it spawned the rapid growth of freelancing apps like TaskRabbit and Uber and online storefronts like Shopify and Magento. People were searching for new ways to make money, and the internet answered. And as social media began to proliferate, so too did this new form of business. Entrepreneurs realized that the social media model could serve a much greater purpose than connecting long lost friends. It could be used to push sales.

What we’re seeing today are the early stages of a complete re-imagining of the workforce. Even in the last decade, social media and the gig economy have changed greatly. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become optimized for business, and online freelancing platforms have gone from a way to find a few odd jobs to flourishing ecosystems that offer significant income potential. Roughly 34% of the U.S. workforce are freelancers, and by 2020, that number will jump another 10%. If you haven’t noticed businesses scrambling to prepare for the modern workforce already, you sure will soon.

Big Data was the natural next step in the growing digital economy. At the moment, we’re still on the cusp of being able to truly grasp the implications of such vast amounts of data. We’ve only just started to use AI to analyze online behavior and target our marketing efforts. The possibilities are endless. Just think about how much content social media produces in a single day. Imagine if all of this data was aggregated, cataloged, and made accessible. Well, that’s just what the founders of Molly did.

Putting Social Media to Work Could Change How We Work

Molly founders Chris Messina, Esther Crawford, and Ethan Sutin have a vision. In their world, data across social media platforms are connected, and learning about someone is a simple as asking the app a question. In their world, social media isn’t a bunch of siloed sharing platforms; it’s a living, growing encyclopedia made by and for its users. VentureBeat writer Khari Johnson had a chance to talk with Messina:

“Essentially, the premise behind the whole concept is to try to make social media work for us. To try to build a social platform that understands people, how they ask questions, and the types of answers they’re looking for allows us to build up ideally a very useful and valuable dataset that we make available to our users to give them something back for all the content they’ve contributed to the social web over time.”

At the moment, Molly is an ask me anything app with about a dozen featured profiles. Users can ask tech writers about their predictions for the industry, musicians about their influences, entrepreneurs about their investments, or any other question that's been on their mind. Molly will then dig into the recipient's social media to find the answer before storing it. Each and every question helps grow Molly's database. Once public, she'll be able to answer basic questions about almost anyone, anytime.

Obviously, Molly holds much potential for entrepreneurs looking for inspiration or like-minded professional partners. But it also holds tremendous potential for businesses and recruiters hoping to streamline their hiring processes. Social media has already inspired great change in the recruiting industry; approximately 84% of organizations use social media for recruiting, and not just for recruiting non-management employees. Recruiters use social media to source and screen workers at all levels, for both salaried and contract positions. Molly could make social media screening exponentially faster as she grows, enabling recruiters to understand a candidate’s personality, goals, and potential – valuable information that’s often difficult to glean from a resume or work history.

Shared Offices Foster Connection in the Modern Workplace

The future of how we find work isn’t the only thing changing; the future of where we work is, too. Across the globe, shared offices are bringing together freelancers and employees in microcosmic utopian co-workspaces. Here, you’ll find tech developers working alongside yoga instructors and corporate grunts next to freelance fashion designers – all surrounded by the trappings of a boutique hotel. WeWork, the $20 billion “space as a service” startup, now has 319 offices in 21 countries around the world. Each is decked out in the WeWork industrial chic aesthetic and offers perks like member events, convenience stores, ping pong and foosball tables, and custom-designed common areas. Oh, and beer taps on every floor. For the modern-day hustler, WeWork is paradise.

From an interview with WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey:

“WeWork is a vibrant community of people who are similarly impassioned and driven to pursue their life’s work. We are connecting them so that they are supported and inspired by one another. We see examples of this day in and day out – where entrepreneurs, freelancers, small businesses or even large corporations are able to work together and learn from each other’s successes and failures. This knowledge share helps all of us get better and stronger.”

Uniting People and Data: More Insight and Inspiration for All

It seems the underlying theme for the future of work is unity. Innovators like the founders of Molly and WeWork know that we’re on the precipice of an enormous societal shift. Technology will become even more embedded in the way we work, live, and interact. Breaking down the cubicles that once separated us from our peers at the office was merely one step in a series of many. By eradicating the silos that house our data – and the workforce – we can gain insights that help forge meaningful relationships to drive morale, thought diversity, innovation, interaction, and unity in the mission. Early versions of social media and the gig economy inadvertently isolated us from each other; the future of work seeks to unite us.

Sunil Bagai
Sunil Bagai
Sunil is a Silicon Valley thought leader, speaker, motivator, and the visionary behind the groundbreaking Crowdstaffing ecosystem. Blending vision, technology, and business skills, he is transforming the talent acquisition landscape and the very nature of work. Prior to launching Crowdstaffing, Sunil honed his skills and experience as a business leader for companies such as IBM, EMC, and Symantec. "We need to think exponentially to mindfully architect the future of humanity, civilization, and work. When we collaborate and work together, everyone prospers."
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