The hybrid, or blended workforce, is a staffing strategy that combines permanent employees and workers within the gig economy to meet the operational needs of an organisation. Some argue that this leads to a more diverse workforce, and in the United States, freelance and contract workers are estimated to make up around 40 per cent of the workforce

In South Africa, the gig economy – and side hustles – are being lauded as the possible solution to our massive unemployment rate. With proper access to technology, gig workers can learn new skills, leverage existing special skills, and enjoy flexible working hours. As of last year, it was estimated that South Africa has 3.9 million “giggers”, a massive portion of our workforce – and this figure will likely grow exponentially. 

But giggers have different needs than direct employees, and an established business can cost-effectively offer numerous incentives for these short-term contracts. In South Africa, digital access remains a major concern for giggers. From data prices to load shedding interruptions, there are several inconveniences that the average person working remotely has to deal with. Organisations working with contract workers should offer to cover the costs of wi-fi internet, or even offer the use of a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) for the duration of the contract. 

These incentives will ensure uninterrupted service and build the relationship with the gigger, increasing the probability that they’ll work with you again when you need their specialised skillsets. 

This approach may also be financially feasible, considering the lower cost of hiring temporary workers – due to no pension fund or medical aid contributions, general equipment and spacing costs, etc. 

However, creating a truly blended workforce requires significant change to an organisation. 

Firstly, a solid IT infrastructure for both permanent and temporary employees ensures a smooth remote working experience. Reliable equipment, cloud-based platforms, and IT support channels are central to retaining a flexible work environment. Secondly, good Human Resources systems will make their onboarding/offboarding as seamless as possible. 

Lastly and most importantly, capable leadership and change managers can implement systems, guide permanent and giggers, and facilitate these ongoing developments. Ultimately, for the companies that have already developed their change capabilities, shifting to a more blended work environment – both in terms of people and workspace – can be less tricky.

Change managers can contribute to identifying the key people you want to retain, who will mediate between teams about the nature of the blended workforce and focus on why the change is necessary. As our ways of working continue to evolve in the most surprising ways, managed change remains necessary