It’s no secret that the Gig Economy has grown significantly thanks to technology, and of course, the pandemic. In fact, in the months just after the pandemic, the U.S. gig economy was the strongest it had ever been. According to Fortunly.com, globally, 52% of workers participating in the gig economy lost their jobs because of COVID-19. Traditional jobs had been disrupted and people turned to flexible, temporary jobs to make ends meet. While we generally think of Uber drivers and the likes, many people tried freelance work and “side hustles” to support themselves and their families. It wasn’t all plain sailing however. Just like any other job market, the gig economy can be highly competitive. Add in millions of Americans, and competition is sure to sky-rocket, and it did. Now, the U.S and Canada are attempting to recover from the economic damage of the pandemic. What does this mean for the gig economy?
Define “Gig Economy”
There’s no one-size fits all definition for the gig economy. Essentially, it’s the exchange of labor for money between individuals or companies. Generally, these exchanges happen on digital platforms that directly connect suppliers and customers on a short term basis. It’s an alternative labour exchange that operates on a pay-as-you-go basis. The gig economy has been called several names, whether it be the “sharing economy” or the “collaborative economy”. Investopedia says the gig economy is “temporary, flexible jobs where companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees”. Examples of notable companies that are in the gig economy include Uber, Airbnb, DoorDash, and Postmates.
As it stands, more than one-third of US workers (36%) participate in the gig economy through their primary or secondary jobs. While most of these have a primary job in the traditional job market, 29% solely rely on the gig economy for their income. Many want to supplement their full-time job with their own passions while still making money. This leads to cheaper, and more efficient services for the end user, if they are willing to tap into the gig economy. The explosion of services such as Airbnb and Uber serve as great examples of services that have innovated in their industry and have come out ahead than their traditional counterparts.
What does this mean for Employers?
The gig economy works both ways in that freelancers can choose projects they are passionate about and companies can choose the best option available for specific projects. Businesses can save money on employee benefits, office space, and training for people hired through the gig economy. While this may sound great, there is a reason that most traditional companies choose to have full time employees. A freelance worker doesn’t have the same loyalty to a company as a full time worker. They also lack a certain level of knowledge on the product/service of the employer.
Working in the Gig Economy
As people in the gig economy are not legally a part of the company, they cannot claim benefits, sick pay or paid time off. There have even been some reported cases of gig economy workers that do not even receive minimum wage. In the eyes of the law, businesses are contracting out work to people in the gig economy. As a result, this loophole bypasses many of the working laws set in place today. The risk that comes with hiring employees is now offloaded from the business to the individual.
One benefit of being a gig worker is the work-life balance. Since freelancers pick and choose what jobs they want, this provides great flexibility in their schedules. As mentioned in a previous blog, a healthy work-life balance is one of the keys to success. Being constantly under stress can cause anyone to be demoralized and will eventually lead to burnout and negative emotions.
Freelancing Isn’t Easy!
Freelancers in a gig economy have to constantly search for their next gig. A common problem in the freelancing world is how to keep productivity high. For some, having the absolute freedom of choosing their work-life balance is too much to handle. Freelancers can often get into a state of laziness and plateau with their work and their motivation. Another problem with freelancing is the danger of social isolation. In the typical office setting, you have co-workers around you to interact with. In addition to interacting with co-workers, finding mentors and people to look up to can be crucial to a person’s professional development. These mentors and older figures help shape the younger generation of employees under them and can push someone from a good to the great employee. With freelancing, it is harder to find these types of people who are willing and readily available to help.
The Gig Economy and the Security Industry
One big industry that the gig economy employs is the security guard business. Many security guards work for multiple companies, searching for their next gig. It can be difficult to keep track of all the guards and their availabilities if you are a business owner. With Celayix’s program suite, you no longer have to worry about these issues. With Celayix Scheduler, reduce your scheduling effort as much as 95% with an easy to use, advanced scheduling tools for building, managing, and communicating schedules with your employees. There is even a built in geofencing feature so that guards cannot check-in to a site when they are at home. In addition to geofencing, business owners can utilize Celayix AI to automatically build an optimized schedule. With the smartest rules-based system in employee scheduling software, you can focus on what really matters.
The Gig Economy and the Hospitality Industry
Another sector of the gig economy is hospitality. With the increasing number of events being hosted, hotels have an ever-growing need for employees who can help out at events to counteract the increase in demand. With the Celayix Mobile App, schedulers can ask their employees to confirm their schedules as well as to acknowledge any shift changes. Since many employees could be working at multiple locations, knowing each person’s availability is crucial. In Celayix Mobile, employees can state their availability which will then be sent to the scheduler. The scheduler can then assign shifts based on employee’s preferences. In addition to these features, Celayix Mobile includes an in-app messaging feature. Your schedulers can contact employees quickly, eliminating the need to use other communication methods.
Trends in the Gig Economy
What does the gig economy have in store for the future? What can we foresee happening in the future?
The Use of Freelancers
With the rise of outsourcing, many larger companies will continue to use freelancers, and rely on them more than ever. Many firms already outsource parts of their company such as HR, marketing, and payroll. With the rise of the gig economy, major firms will start using freelancers to help with specific problems or tasks that require an expert. With the increasing use of freelancers, training costs and on-boarding time can be reduced. This economy will only continue to grow, with reports from Statista projecting contract workers in the US could make up more than half the workforce by 2027. The gig economy is here to stay and companies will take full advantage of it.
No More Offices?
Office space is expensive and often difficult to rent. With the explosion of technology that can be used to communicate between employees, is there a need for the office? Productivity applications such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, and Zoom are just a few apps that can integrate with your company’s workflow seamlessly. Employees can work wherever they please, whether in a coffee shop or at home. With no restrictions on location, remote companies can target top talent from all over the world. This trend has been seen as a result of the pandemic, with many companies giving employees the option to continue working from home.
With remote companies, a few challenges present itself. First, spreading the corporate culture can be quite difficult if people are not meeting face to face. Employees may be less invested into your company’s culture. Another challenge of a remote company is the different time zones, especially if your company attracts international talent. People may all have the same working hours from 9-5, but due to time zones many employees can start work when the other ends. This can cause discord in the communication channels and meetings can be hard to book with everyone present. Despite these challenges, remote companies might become a staple in the workplace with the rising cost of real estate in metropolitan areas.
The Gig Economy is Here to Stay
The new generation of the workforce consisting of millennials and Gen Z is leading the charge. Many people in this digital age are now choosing freelancing instead of the traditional jobs. Due to the rise of technology, many millennials and Gen Z members have dismissed the idea that having a traditional job will equate to a successful life. These generations have taken a favor to non conventional ideas of working such as being a freelancer or a digital nomad. In this digital age, being connected with others has never been easier than before. In the years coming we will see the rise of many companies who utilize the gig economy like Uber and Airbnb. Perhaps the “gig economy” will become “the economy” in the future. The world is changing around us and so should we.