There is no doubt that the rise of the gig economy, covering the contingent workforce, self-employed, freelancers and independent workers is climbing rapidly. Regardless of the statistics, you have to look at this as an expanding sector of the economy that covers a wide range of jobs from delivery driving to personal finance.
The rise of the gig economy offers flexibility to workers giving them more freedom to choose both when and where they work. And companies get access to skilled services such as programming and software development, copywriting, marketing and consultancy without having to hire full time employees.
Studies in the US suggest that 35% of the workforce are gig workers, with UK studies finding that the gig economy has doubled in the last 3 years. Driven by a boom in digital platforms as well as other social and economic factors.
Reasons Behind the Rise of the Gig Economy
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the rise of the gig economy in recent years including advances in technology and the rise in the number of gig economy platforms, changing demands of both workers and companies, and even the covid19 pandemic.
Advances in Technology
Advances in technology have contributed to the rise of gig economy work in a number of ways. An increase in the number of gig economy platforms has made it easier for companies to find and hire gig workers. But technology is also changing the way work is carried out and where it can be done. In past decades graphic design work would have required a full studio setup, now, much of it can be done from a computer anywhere in the world.
Platforms such as Shiftpixy allow for easy onboarding of temporary workers and cover everything from advertising the shifts available to matching those shifts with skilled workers and ensuring payment. They even offer employer branding. Administrative pressure is taken off companies which saves both time and money, and workers using the platform have access to valuable medical and retirement perks that are often not associated with the gig economy.
As the gig economy is growing more and more people are either supplementing their income with freelancing jobs, earning extra money around their existing jobs, or becoming full-time freelancers. The gig economy has changed in recent years as more companies are looking to the gig workforce instead of traditional workers to undertake project work as well as emerging roles such as social media management. More freelance work available and better platforms to link individuals with available work means a self-employed individual can be highly flexible and achieve a better work-life balance.
For companies, gig economy workers offer access to a valuable human resource that enables increased productivity and adaptability. Hiring an independent contractor can be more cost-effective than hiring a full-time member of staff, especially as self-employed independent workers are responsible for their own tax and health insurance. Studies have shown that companies hire gig workers for a variety of reasons. Gig economy workers provide a huge talent pool for project work, they are invaluable for covering full-time employee absences, they don’t have to work fixed shifts, and the gig workforce is available on-demand.
Covid 19 and the Gig Economy
The covid19 pandemic has also had an impact on the rise of the gig economy. Not only have gig workers, in particular drivers, been vital in delivering essentials to people stuck at home, but restrictions have completely upended traditional working patterns for millions of workers. There has been an undeniable shift toward working remotely, and a need by many to supplement or even replace their income with gig work.
Is the Gig Economy Here to Stay?
Working in the gig economy isn’t the answer for everybody. Gig economy work isn’t as financially secure as having a full-time job, there is no guarantee of work and little job security. Plus, there will always be roles that benefit from having full-time employees.
However, the growth of the gig economy is changing the labor market and more and more companies are making use of professional gig workers in place of hiring employees. More and more workers are demanding flexibility and companies are responding to this by changing the jobs that are available.
As technology improves even more, some are predicting that the rise of the gig economy will mean freelancers make up more than half of the US workforce by 2023, meaning companies, individuals, and policy makers are going to need to adapt.