Gone are the days of working for the same company or in a similar job from the time you leave school until you retire, and that is largely thanks to a change in mindset and the emergence of the gig economy.
But what is the gig economy?
In short, the gig economy marks a move away from traditional 9 to 5 jobs and into a space where your hours are flexible and short-term work is the name of the game. This gig economy has permeated every industry. We see it more readily with freelancers such as copywriters and graphic designers but it extends further than that.
Taxi drivers working for Uber, people renting out their properties themselves on AirBnB, independent contractors on job sites and even cleaning crews for office blocks are using technology to join the gig economy bandwagon.
In a report by NACo, the National Association of Counties, they state that the gig economy serves three groups:
- The independent workers paid by the gig (i.e., a task or a project);
- The consumers who need a specific service, for example, a ride to their next destination, or a particular item delivered;
- And the companies that connect the worker to the consumer in a direct manner, including app-based technology platforms.
The rise of apps has made it even easier to find a job or find a service you need and it is because of this that the gig economy, which is nothing new to humans, has become more relevant in this Information Age we live in.
This article explains that “around 15.6% of the UK’s workforce makes up the gig economy. The figure is 34% in the US and expected to rise to 43% by the year 2020.” Those numbers are staggering and it makes what the future holds for how we work, without the constraints of needing to be in an office daily and locked into contracts that can cause disillusionment, an exciting prospect.
The rapid growth of online connectivity has put more people in touch with each other than ever before, and this is also why the gig economy has grown so rapidly. Now you can simply tap into resources such as Upwork, Fiverr and freelancer.com in order to sell your services or find someone to do the work for you just as efficiently – but without the need to hire them full-time.
For creatives, from copywriters to graphic designers to web designers and even songwriters, this has meant they can pick and choose who they work for and for how much. This allows them to build up and develop their portfolio while taking on projects that keep them energized; all from the comfort of their own homes or their favorite coffee shop.
Computer rental companies have also jumped on the bandwagon, developing a new sales stream whereby freelancers can now get access to the latest products the need to complete their projects over the short-term without having to invest in a new device every couple of years.
In short, the access and flexibility of freelancers helps businesses keep costs low and quality high. And due to the work being freelance, there is an even bigger incentive for the work to be put out to be good – as one bad review can mean less pay and less work. Many platforms also allow the company to request a number of revisions before parting with their money.
Expansion of job opportunities
While the gig economy helps aspiring entrepreneurs to be empowered and work for themselves, it has also helped people to explore new job opportunities in a variety of fields. For example, even people renting out an extra room or cottage on your property has become temporary, sorting out a lot of the problems that can occur between tenants and landlords. AirBnB and its platform where you receive ratings and accreditation, empowers both parties with the ability to pick and choose what suits them best.
At a click of a button, you can also change your career path. For many temporary workers, there has been a mentality shift where you do what you feel you are capable of and feel like doing for the day or night.
Have some expertise working in construction and want to pick up a few gigs? Easy. Keen to step into the shoes of a waiter at a fancy cocktail party? No doubt you’ll find what you’re looking for.
It is the ability to seamlessly connect that makes this economy possible, and it will only continue to grow and evolve to the wants and needs of the world. While there are still some challenges in terms of access and a lack of benefits, the gig economy will adapt, as it already has, to serve its main audiences as best it can.
I do hope this post has answered the question What is the gig economy? for you