If you’ve been following Appjobs for some time now and trying to learn more about the new ways of working, you probably already know what the on-demand economy means. But that’s not the only new, confusing term out there! You probably heard all about the gig economy, sharing economy and so on… But who wants to talk about the economy all the time?
First things first: the gig economy differs from the on-demand economy because it’s a model based on many people doing many single tasks (or gigs as we like to call them) for peers in exchange for quick cash, while the on-demand economy focuses on people trading access of products and services over ownership of the same products.
Those companies allow people to share rooms, bikes, cars and even meals with strangers and be paid in a secure way managed by the platform. Leaders of the gig economy are companies like TaskRabbit, Fiverr, o Freelancer, where the work does not flow continuously and the worker can work part-time one task after the other.
It is no doubt that, in recent years, the gig economy has taken off. Workers worldwide (including 24 percent of Americans in the past year alone) have adapted to the prevalence of money-making opportunities that are specifically the internet- or app-based, creating a substantial pool of industry-specific talent that are ready to put their skills to use. The gig economy followed in the footsteps of the “on-demand” model, providing opportunities for industry-specific workers to find tasks suitable to their schedules, abilities and other needs.
The gig economy can also be about changing the routine of organizational work by dividing it into smaller tasks and contracting these tasks out to individuals instead of managing the work inside the company, to increase the profits. This way, both the provider and the consumer get a product or service at a lower cost (both of value and labor).
In general, the gig economy lets two different groups of people meet in a safe and trusting way. It connects those that have the money to pay for a service but don’t have the time or resources with those looking to make extra cash while doing simple gigs in their free time.
For example, a TaskRabbit tasker chooses the tasks they want to complete, ranging from cleaning and furniture assembly to personal assistance. The video producer on Fiverr can get extra money producing videos, doing some graphics or design or translating and writing content. With the gig economy, the options and opportunities are endless! Working with some of the freelance app-based jobs, you could be getting paid for doing tasks as simple as walking a dog. Doesn’t that sound like the dream job?
Why do people choose to become a gig worker? Most of them look for flexibility in the work environment that would allow them to focus on other priorities. Many of them are just looking for some extra part-time jobs to fund their passions. Some of them want to engage in different kinds of tasks on a daily basis to get out of routine work. Others are in between jobs or students looking for a quick and easy buck. Gig workers can be professional or low-skilled freelancers, that decide to profit in different ways from their free time.
The trend is growing, without a doubt, but it comes with both advantages and disadvantages.
While the gig economy offers a clear benefit for customers and middleman companies, it is less clear if this new type of working model will benefit the workers in the long term (think health insurance and retirement plans). Hillary Clinton rightly summarized the issues at stake saying that the gig economy “is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation, but it is also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in future.”
Since the gig economy is broad and global, both geographically and regarding the working force, it is difficult for lawmakers to regulate and protect this new kind of workforce. It’s something entirely new that is still changing and shifting. Because of that, the workers can experience some difficulties, especially when they are just starting out in the gig economy or be moving from a full-time, stable job to working as an independent freelancer.
Anyhow, if we want the gig economy to increase wealth throughout all societies, we need to take into consideration the workers’ requests and duly inform about both pros and cons.
Recode reports that 9.2 million Americans are expected to work in the gig economy by 2021. Are you ready to make a career change and be a part of the gig economy?