By now you’ve heard of the term “gig econ­o­my” but you may not know what it means. Is it describ­ing the econ­o­my of musi­cians as they work gigs? Does it mean some­thing about com­put­ers and the mea­sure­ment of space allot­ted for their pro­grams? Does it have some­thing to do with fish­ing? Well, not exact­ly. But, have no fear! We will break this term down into easy bites and you’ll be an expert on the gig econ­o­my in no time.

 

What IS the Gig Economy?

The term “gig econ­o­my” refers to the new land­scape of employ­ment in the world where work­ers are hired for tem­po­rary, flex­i­ble jobs instead of full-time per­ma­nent posi­tions. Think of it this way: work­ers in a gig econ­o­my are paid for com­plet­ing a job in a pre­de­ter­mined timeframe—like musi­cians are paid for a night of music (a gig) at a venue. In a gig econ­o­my, you see that inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors and free­lancers tend to be hired over the more tra­di­tion­al, full-time job seek­ers. Exam­ples of jobs that thrive in this econ­o­my are tech­nol­o­gy-based posi­tions, cre­ative jobs, and the new tide of ser­vice-based posi­tions in com­pa­nies like Uber, Airbnb, and Instacart.

 

Gig Econ­o­my Numbers

Forbes mag­a­zine reports that accord­ing to the 2018 num­bers from the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics, there are 55 mil­lion peo­ple in the US clas­si­fied as gig work­ers. This is a huge num­ber! In fact, that trans­lates to more than 35% of the cur­rent US work­force. Pro­ject­ed to rise to 42% in 2020, over 40% of these work­ers are esti­mat­ed to be mil­len­ni­als.  As those num­bers increase, the pro­por­tion of male to female work­ers shifts. Once right at 50/50, the new ratio is 60/40. This is attrib­uted to larg­er num­bers of women return­ing to school for post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion. In fact, many leave the work­force com­plete­ly to return to school ver­sus tak­ing cours­es and work­ing at the same time.

 

Pros of Gig Econ­o­my Jobs

There are many pros to a job in this cat­e­go­ry. Job seek­ers who are look­ing for gig econ­o­my posi­tions name flex­i­ble work­places and flex­i­ble hours as their top pri­or­i­ties. The shift to remote offices as well as the free­dom to work at what­ev­er hours are most con­ve­nient def­i­nite­ly sup­ports this new econ­o­my. Employ­ees who have the dis­ci­pline to man­age their work­flow and com­plete tasks on time are ones that will thrive in a gig job. The pos­i­tives are not lim­it­ed to just the employ­ees, though. Employ­ers like being able to choose new hires from a much larg­er pool of can­di­dates because they are not tied down to job seek­ers in their imme­di­ate vicin­i­ty. Employ­ers are also able to save mon­ey as they do not have to invest in work equip­ment, health ben­e­fits, or on-going train­ing for these inde­pen­dent workers.

 

Cons of Gig Econ­o­my Jobs

The cons of gig work are some of the flip sides to the pros of gig work. These draw­backs include the absence of health ben­e­fits and 401k ben­e­fits. Free­lancers have to buy their own health­care and fig­ure out their own sav­ings sched­ule for retirement—both of which aren’t impos­si­ble, but they do take up time and tend to be at a greater expense than the ben­e­fits offered in a tra­di­tion­al work envi­ron­ment. Gig work­ers also face the real­i­ty of no paid sick days or vaca­tion days. If a free­lancer has the flu, he isn’t paid for the time he miss­es from work and his dead­line isn’t adjust­ed in this task-based econ­o­my. On the employ­er side of the equa­tion, com­pa­nies report that the pool of qual­i­fied can­di­dates for high­er lev­el man­age­ment posi­tions con­tin­ues to get small­er as the trend for gig work­ers who free­lance from job-to-job increases.

 

The work­place con­tin­ues to evolve from a tra­di­tion­al 9–5 work­day in a tra­di­tion­al office envi­ron­ment to one that is a flex­i­ble work cycle in an ever-chang­ing loca­tion. Employ­ees place high pri­or­i­ty on set­ting their own rhythm for work flow and prize inde­pen­dence. Employ­ers are encour­aged to stay in-tune with the gig econ­o­my and to seek ways to mar­ry their company’s needs with the needs of this new work­force pop­u­la­tion. Both employ­er and employ­ee can ben­e­fit from this new work landscape.