- The workforce will return to the office in phases, beginning with a "back and forth" between the physical and virtual workplace, according Ravi Kumar, president and deputy chief operating officer of IT consulting and outsourcing company Infosys, during a virtual even hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
- If vaccines for the coronavirus are available in the next year or so, the workforce will become accustomed to a hybrid way of working. The workplace will move from humans, to humans "plus" machines "plus" gig work, said Kumar. Gig workers currently represent about one in six workers in an organization, but Kumar expects their presence to increase to 25-35%.
- The transition will take us to a new "equilibrium" with gig work because work is broken down into "smaller packets," he said. The smaller units of work, on top of being virtual, means the employee can deliver their work from anywhere.
The coronavirus pandemic is going to reshape the world's workforce. To what extent? The jury is still out.
Though IT across industry sectors lost 19,000 jobs in March, the IT sector added 8,500 workers, despite the coronavirus outbreak, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and CompTIA.
The unemployment rate is spiraling downward in the U.S., with some indicators pointing at nearly 53 million unemployed workers in Q2. But, will gig workers, who can apply for unemployment under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), be able to hold on until the shift to Kumar's expected "equilibrium?"
As jobs rebound in the next nine to 12 months, Kumar expects dependency on gig workers to increase as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Infosys has had no layoffs, but has had hiring freezes and stymied raises.
Enterprises readjusting to a return to the office will be forced to also change how they recruit employees. Businesses typically categorize their gig, or 1099-MISC workers, by special projects, stop-gap labor, commission-based, or short term W-2 work, according to ADP.
Because it's anyone's guess as to how much work will be at home versus in the office, organizations might be more willing to look beyond geographical boundaries, education levels and other talent restraints.
"If we're smart enough, we could make this very inclusive," said Kumar.
Last year gig workers represented about 16% of the U.S. workforce, according to a recent report from ADP. Though the definition of gig work undergoes constant iterations, "as-needed" jobs have historically been placed in the category of gig work.
The "as-needed" characteristic of gig workers will evolve into a new way of education, said Kumar. Educations ending in degrees are equivalent to "just in case learning," he said, where students are taught anything they might need to know for their future career. Degrees will evolve into "just in time learning," which is skill-based learning adaptive to a post-coronavirus new normal.