Is the gig economy making you think differently about the way you work?

Nikki Benfield

Everyone talks about how the pace of change in the global workforce is accelerating. In 2018, the US Bureau of Labour Statistics reported that 55 million people in the U.S. were “gig workers,” which is more than 35% of the U.S. workforce. That number is projected to jump to 43% by 2020.

To succeed, we must adapt just as quickly but what really is a gig worker? The gig economy is defined as a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. So, Uber is a great example, as is freelance copywriting.

This is an extract from an article I read recently which talks about the pros and cons of being a gig worker. I think it describes why a gig economy can work for everyone. “Millennials, the generation credited with disrupting everything from housing to marriage, are gravitating towards gig work for the promise of greater work-life balance. Boomers and other generations on the brink of retirement are drawn to gig work because it brings in a little extra income without a major time commitment. And recent technologies like Skype, and Slack have made the gig life a reality, giving you maximum freedom, an ideal work-life balance, and the chance to pursue your passions.”

I believe that those may be some of the reasons that the life of a gig worker is so appealing. You get to craft a great work-life balance that works for you and pair this with the opportunity to pursue your passions. You really are in charge of the type of work you want to take on and how you want to deliver that work. You don’t have to spend any time commuting or updating your work wardrobe to dress up for a company culture that you may not fit you. You are essentially your own boss, managing your own portfolio of work, your own deadlines and your own deliverables. And for the most part, you can do most of your jobs from anywhere, so you don’t have to be in a fixed location.

This makes this life sound perfect – which of course is not true. On the downside, because you don’t have anyone managing your deadlines, you really need to be sure that you have the discipline to get the job done. You also must ensure that you keep the pipeline of work coming in full or you could end up with an empty desk. To do this, you need to ensure you stay relevant with constant learning and upskilling.

This is not all about the worker however, as we need to consider what this means for employers? The concept of an “on-demand” workforce is appealing. Obtain skills when you need them, where you need them, for the duration of time you need them at the price you need them. But businesses too need to evolve when learning how to work with this new workforce. How to find them, how to manage them, how to invest in them too – because when companies learn to thrive with an on-demand workforce then everyone wins.

What can we take away from this? The marketplace won’t wait for you. The gig economy is growing. The appeal of an on-demand workforce is increasing. The way we employ and are employed is changing and we should look to embrace it. The “job for life” idea is something of the past. It is no coincidence that the working world of the future is being shaped by those who are mainly affected by it. We have two choices: sit and watch it pass us by or look to understand how we become part of it. Which team are you on?

Nikki Benfield is an independent marketing consultant (and part of the gig economy) currently working with VentureWeb. Like what you read? Email Nikki here.

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