Why is English Critical to the Gig Economy

Gig Economy - Business woman driving a car

Welcome to the Gig Economy

Most organizations no longer give people the promise, or even hint, of lifetime employment. While stock options, bonuses and other compensation help keep employees for some period of time, in most cases, employment has become a matter of mutual benefit to the employer and the employee. An August 2015 study by accounting software maker Intuit expects upwards of 43 percent of people to be in the contingent labor market by 2020. When people want to leave to do something else, they leave.

Stephane Kasriel, CEO of upwork, the largest freelancer platform, called the Gig Economy the secret weapon of the US economy in his last interview in The Street.

Facing disruption in many once-stable industries, more workers are freelancing and turning to “alternative” employment strategies to cobble together their livings, but as the economy improves, the amount, perception, and desirability of freelance work seems to be changing.
63 percent of freelancers said that they started freelancing out of choice, up 10 points since 2014. A majority also said that they saw having a “diversified portfolio of clients” as more stable than having a single employer. And about half of them said that there was “no amount of money” that could convince them to take a traditional job. (Results from an online survey of roughly 6,000 working Americans).

I see people who move from company-to-company as being great at three personal learning traits:

  • rapid understanding of a business,
  • social awareness that allows them to quickly become a effective co-workers, &
  • swift mastery of variations in process and practice.

Good interpersonal communications support those three traits, as does the ability to understand the work environment—and that requires a solid understanding of the working language, which more likely than not, will be English.

Business English as the Voice of Talent

In many ways, English becomes the protocol that permits the Gig Economy to work. If people had to assimilate new language and cultural concepts to do about the same kind of job they did at another company, the Gig Economy would fill with friction. It would take people large amounts of time to learn what they need to know to be effective.

Gig Economy - man working on laptop at coffee shop

But because English has become the protocol for representing ideas, the frameworks across business become transparent. And when variations occur, everyone uses that same language framework for describing those variations. As people move throughout their Gig jobs, picking up ever more experience, they will find fewer and fewer variations they have not seen before.

So English becomes the lubrication of the Gig Economy, allowing people to deliver value to multiple employers during their careers by leveraging their growing experience within domains of knowledge, rather than functions within a given business.

The Gig Economy appeals to many because it also allows them more personal choice and flexibility as to when to work, and even where. People throughout the world who want to find employment in the Gig economy would do well to master Business English so they can more easily move not just from job-to-job, or employer-to-employer, but from country-to-country.

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