Brave New World: Welcome to the Gig Economy!
The concept of work is changing and people are embracing it. Ask your Uber driver! There is a trend that has boomed in the past decade due to the rise of freelance based companies like Uber, Airbnb, Deliveroo, and Upwork.
What is the Gig Economy?
The gig economy is a virtual market where temporary work or short-term contracts known as a “gig” is performed by independent contractors, freelancers, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires. These workers do not receive salaries as in the traditional employment system, but they are paid in exchange for the services or “gigs” they carry out.
People are attracted to the idea of independent work which brings with it flexible time, and no bosses or employers who may limit their way of doing or performing a specific task. This is a work model that allows them the convenience of earning while often working at home during a time schedule that suits their lifestyle in contrast to “working 9 to 5”.
The Anthill Magazine in their November 2018 post has reported that the Australian Bureau of Statistic has estimated that 2.5 million Australians are currently taking on casual or independent work. Entrepreneur has also mentioned that at present, 56.7 million people the US are engaged in freelance work. The Workana Newsletter, reveals that the results from a survey by Kelly Services show that Asia leads in the gig economy with an 84% demand by managers hiring freelancers followed by Europe with 80%, America with 54%, and the US with 47%.
What brought about the Gig Economy?
There are many reasons that have increased the popularity of the gig economy. The biggest factor is digitization. It has allowed a freelancer to work from any location and has given him or her the freedom to choose from a wide selection of temporary tasks or projects on offer around the world. In the same way, clients searching for freelancers can choose the best skilled contractor for a project from a large pool of individuals.
Technology has enabled the shift through the smartphone and the use of Apps which make ride-hailing, delivery services, and personal errand services readily available with the flick of a finger or a click on a button!
Upside of Freelancing
Downside of “Moonlighting”
Contractors and freelancers do not have the typical benefits of permanent work such as security of income, accident insurance, superannuation, paid leave, minimum wage entitlements, and unfair dismissal laws. Freelancers who have not upskilled may be forced to bid down their rate of pay in order for them to acquire contract work, while some companies hiring freelancers are taking advantage of job contractors through unfair work practices and underpayment. Current laws and policies on employment are more about the protection of permanent employees rather than the transitional labor force.
However, statistics indicate that freelance remote work is trending up and that people are finding more satisfaction in this type of work where the top reason for gigging is freedom, flexibility and often a higher income.
What the Future Holds
The current popularity and availability of gigs is pushing major shift changes in how people work. The idea is popular as current statistics indicate that the gig economy is growing very quickly. More and more people are doing part time work, “side-hustles” and are often able to work from anywhere in the world. People like the flexibility and the hours of work. This is why you may not be able to find a seat at your local café and explains the popularity of “coworking spaces”.
Surviving in the Gig Economy
Patricia Romboletti, a Master Class webinar creator and leader for Execunet, in her presentation at a Tedx Talks, January 15, 2019 episode, The Gig Economy | TEDxCentennialParkWomen gives tips in order to make it in the gig economy. She says that people need to “think like a gigger” and adapt gigging characteristics. Here are the three points she emphasized:
Broaden your network. Stay up to date with trends and changes in industries and sectors. Establish connections with “thought leaders” and influencers.
Take control of your own destiny. Don’t just settle with where you are. Look for areas where you can still learn and keep on learning. Increase your skill set by learning new competences. Always look for new opportunities. Be highly adaptable.
Have a self-built financial safety net. Start today by opening your own “ME” bank account. Put aside something that can bridge you when you are in between gigs.
The rise of the gig economy is a paradigm that will continue to move upward in a brave new world of freedom, opportunity and increased quality of life.
Take away points:
- The gig economy is a virtual market where temporary work or short-term contracts known as a “gig” are performed by independent contractors, freelancers, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.
- The lure of working autonomously and remotely has pushed professionals to shift from the “9 to 5” corporate job grind to working in the comfort of their homes, co-working spaces or the local café.
- The gig economy’s rapid growth may lead to a future where freelancing and job contracting overtake traditional employment models.
- Survival in the gig economy entails adaptability, flexibility and a bit of “hustle”!
Jaclyn-Mae Floro, BCompSc
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Disclaimer. The material in this post represents general information only and should not be taken to be legal advice.