The gig economy or gig jobs are nothing new. Often known as freelance jobs, short-term or temporary jobs, gig jobs are filled by the agile workforce, gig workers that have greater flexibility for employers than full-time employees.
Gig work is available in a wide variety of industries. You could find contract gigs in English language teaching, cheffing, graphic design, or business management that suit your skills and your lifestyle. And with advances in information technology platforms and apps, there are more options for gig economy programming. There are also better opportunities for employers to advertise shifts or specific projects and link themselves up with the skills professionals need.
What are Gig Economy Jobs?
What are gig jobs? Well, that isn’t really a question with a simple answer since gig-type jobs are available in most industries. Gig work could mean picking up shifts at a local restaurant, food delivery, rideshare jobs through companies such as Uber and Lyft, or project work in anything from software development and computer science to accounting and finance.
Types of Gig Workers
Essentially gig work is anything that requires temporary workers, contract workers, or project-based workers as opposed to permanent jobs requiring long-term or full-time employees. There are large numbers of short-term gig jobs and lots of types of gig workers but almost any freelance job or contract job could be classified as being part of the gig economy. Understanding the gig economy requires understanding the needs of both employers and workers, so as to be able to effectively match up these needs.
Traditionally full-time employment was seen as better for career development but with more companies looking to hire independent contractors and more job seekers looking for a flexible job that supports a better work-life balance, contract gigs are gaining validity as viable career paths. In fact, becoming a gig economy worker could be good career advice especially as a way of building skills and expertise in a variety of different areas or just boosting your monthly income.
Giggers is a term for workers who have participated in the gig economy. A gigger can be any independent worker who works for short-term or non-permanent contract gigs, including lower-paid roles and workers with a very high skill set. Giggers may also be known as shifters.
Gig workers that undertake contingent jobs and gig work are a valuable human resource that accounts for a large percentage of the workforce. And yet they do not generally have the same employee benefits as permanent staff such as health insurance and there have been calls to allow gig workers better access to benefits.
Pros and Cons of Gig Work
As with any type of work, there are advantages and disadvantages of gig jobs.
Advantages can include:
- More flexibility. This is a key reason both employers and workers are moving more and more towards using the gig economy. Workers can generally choose to work the hours and days that suit them allowing gig work to fit better around other commitments.
- More variety. Put simply, gigs offer more variety as well as more flexibility. You can choose the places you work or the projects you work on and gain experience in lots of different areas.
- Less risk. If you are working for multiple employers there is less risk if one of them goes out of business.
- Better alignment. Being able to have more choice and flexibility means better value alignment between workers and organizations.
While disadvantages might include:
- Disruption to work-life balance. While for some types of gig workers flexible working allows for a better work-life balance others allow gig work to negatively impact their work-life balance or sleep patterns by having to be constantly available for work.
- Lack of unemployment. Gig workers may not be covered by unemployment insurance if they are unable to find work which puts pressure on workers to always be on the hunt for work.
- A lack of benefits. Generally, employment law doesn’t require contractors and freelancers to be given a benefits package meaning gig economy workers need to be careful to ensure they are budgeting for things like private insurance and a retirement plan.
- Working alone. One of the cons of gig work is that it’s easy to end up not feeling part of a team especially if you are working on your own. Isolation and a lack of social contact can have negative impacts.
If you are currently engaged in a job search then sending your resume and cover letter to a temp agency can help bring gigs to you, as can apps like Shiftpixy that allow workers to access jobs in gig economy settings as well as access to benefits and great relationships between workers and gig job providers.