Team Building in the Gig Economy
In 2017, I had owned my own business for nearly 5 years. I was enjoying the projects I was working on and the balance I had achieved with my career and my family. I had become the preferred vendor to my clients, I had even started hiring my own subcontractors.
Still, something was missing.
I wasn't able to put my finger on exactly what it was until my friend (and now co-founder) Amir came to me about building a company that was all about people.
When we started building Inspirant Group, we agreed that all of our Unconsultants* would be treated as employees, whether they were full-timers, part-time temps, or project-based subcontractors. This mindset allows us to open the door to long term relationships with our teams, bringing together the right people at the right time to do work they enjoy doing with people they enjoy working with. In practice, this is working together onsite at a client; having in person or, at the very least, video conference team meetings; participating in happy hours with a team-building focus, especially when a new team member joins; sending weekly internal communications highlighting company-wide people and projects; and really, just focusing on the person and not their title or employment status.
We held our first ever All Hands meeting in June, a day focused on our team (yep, all our W2s and 1099s) where we shared the company vision and how everyone fits into it. We asked the team to tell us what we are doing well, and more importantly, what we can do to improve. We flew in contractors who live out of state, paid everyone for a full day’s work, and spent the time after our important discussions eating, drinking, and ribbing each other’s golf games.
We still have lots of room to improve. At our All Hands, we learned that we could use a better on-boarding process. A recent client interaction showed us we could also work on our off-boarding procedures. However, I truly believe we are on the right track and the evidence backs that up. Our Unconsultants consistently report loving the teams (on which or with whom) they are working, and 100% of our contractor employees have expressed the desire to continue working with Inspirant Group after their current contract ends. Most importantly -- and certainly very humbling -- are the questions from our subcontractors about why we bother treating them as part of the team, something they have never experienced as contractors in the past.
Inspirant is building a team of incredible people with shared values who look forward to the next time they get to interact with each other, whether on client work or at a team event. We are actively creating a place where it isn’t obvious if you are part of a contract gig or full-time gig.
We believe work should be fun. We believe that so much of the work experience is shaped by the people you work with every day. We are holding our second All Hands next week, spending the day with all of our Unconsultants and immersing them in our core values and what Being Inspirant truly means.
*Unconsultant [uhn -kuh-n-suhl-tnt] noun. an experienced professional with an innate ability to solve problems, an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and a desire to work with other Unconsultants.