The Gig Economy
Published on: Mar 20, 2017

By

The Gig Economy

The Gig Economy can be defined as an economic environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. Workers get access to individual ‘gigs’ (temporary work contracts) using a website or mobile app that helps to match them with customers’ requirements. Freelance workers can select from among temporary jobs and projects around the world, while employers can select the best individuals for specific projects from a larger pool than that available in any given area. Some gigs may be very brief, such as answering a 5-minute survey, while others can be over a year, like an 18-month database management project. Gig economy can improve work-life balance over what is possible in most jobs. The model is powered by independent workers selecting jobs that they're interested in, rather than one in which workers are forced into taking up assignments. The most popular jobs in the gig economy are: Arts and design (musicians, graphic designers, and craft and fine artists) Computer and information technology (Web developers, software developers, and computer programmers). Construction and extraction (Carpenters, painters, and other construction workers) Media and communications (technical writers, interpreters and translators, photographers) Transportation and material moving (Ridesharing, delivery drivers) According a study by Intuit, by 2020, 40% of workers in the US would be independent contractors., suited for the gig economy model. The characteristics of the gig economy are captured in the table below.

Gig Economy Characteristic

Description

Why workers choose to do gigs?

Today’s workforce is increasingly mobile and work can be done from anywhere, leading to decoupling of job and location. Gig economy offers the following benefits: 

  • Flexibility (work without having set hours) 
  • Variety (try several types of jobs) 
  • Passion (choose among many passions)

Financial pressures on businesses leading to staff reductions and the entrance of the Millennial generation into the workforce

Decline of pension programs (less retirement savings and more long-term financial insecurity)

Falling incomes, rising rent prices

Unemployment (average length of unemployment today is longer than 25 weeks)

Automation, due to the advent of robots and artificial intelligence, leading to redundancy of some jobs/job functions.

Earn more money, create and control own schedules and also enjoy the work/life balance that the gig economy provides. Some workers also have a full time or part-time job in addition to their gigs.

Why companies may prefer gig workers?

In today’s competitive business environment, consulting or freelancing for several businesses at the same time is a badge of honour, giving an image of an ‘ultimate professional’ to solve problems that full-time teams can’t. Companies then save money by hiring top quality gig experts for particular projects, who might be too high-priced to maintain on staff. 

Working at home or in cafes, starting businesses with teams of consultants and freelancers met online, and even launching business ventures that eventually may fail, all indicate “initiative,” “creativity,” and “adaptability,” which are very desirable traits in today’s workplace.

There is a growing recognition that people who enjoy a good work-life balance and who work at what they are passionate about, are often more focused and productive, delivering greater value to their clients 

Gigs create a bridge between traditional enterprises and the emerging economy, as the global economy continues to be disrupted by technology and other changes. 

Businesses save resources in terms of benefits, office space and training.

Platforms & Modes of Gig Economy work

Platform: A platform like a Web Portal or Smartphone App can facilitate Gig Workers and Companies to match with each other based on requirements specified and skills possessed. These platforms become a repository of a gig worker’s personal brand and professional identity and a virtual place to conduct business. These platforms also provide a sense of community to the workers and success is measured in good reviews, which encourages more business for them.

Niche Service: Gig workers ideally offer a niche service (that is unique or in high demand), combined with skills, experience, or other assets possessed.

Realism, Patience, Budgeting & Adaptability: Gig Workers need to take time to learn what works, and what doesn’t, when pursuing gigs. They need to set aside some of their income for other purposes, such as an emergency fund or unplanned expenses. Also, not every gig is a good fit, and to stay competitive in the gig economy, workers need to keep learning as they progress. 

Shortcomings

Inconsistency: Challenge in landing up with enough work to provide a stable income. Highs & Lows are common.

Scheduling: Not having set hours, or an employer who provides direction for the day

Lack of benefits: Don’t usually get employer-paid benefits, such as premiums on health insurance and contributions to retirement plans.

 

References

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/gig-economy
https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2016/article/what-is-the-gig-economy.htm
https://www.wired.com/insights/2013/09/the-gig-economy-the-force-that-could-save-the-american-worker/



About the author

Bibhash Das

Head - Client Acquisition (Smart Cities) at Get Me Experts!

India,New Delhi

I have expertise in sustainable energy for over 6 years and international experience in multiple domains and roles.

Read my other blogs


Comments

Leave a Comment: