You’ve probably heard the term before, but what exactly is a gig economy, what are the pros and cons, and is it here to stay?
What Is A Gig Economy?
Basically, a gig economy is a market that relies heavily on part-time and temporary workers over traditional full-time employees. This could be contractors, freelancers, or anyone hired for a shorter and specific period of time.
With the rise of apps like Uber and Lyft, when people think about a gig economy their mind usually goes to delivery personnel, drivers, and even short-term rental units like ones found on Airbnb. However, gig work is actually more spread out than you might think. For example, in India the breakdown looks like this:
- 47% is medium-skilled work
- 31% is low-skilled work
- 22% is high-skilled work
The Benefits Of A Gig Economy
For both employers and employees, the gig economy comes with obvious pros (we’ll touch on the cons later).
The most obvious benefit that employers get is the ability to better control their expenses. Being able to hire directly for a job, goal, or production budget means you can worry less about overspending. Additionally, with much of the world more comfortable than ever with remote work, it allows companies to save on office expenses including supplies, technology, and the space itself.
If done correctly, the freedom of a gig economy can actually motivate employees to produce stronger work. However, the key phrase here is “if done correctly”. More on that later.
As we just touched on, the freedom afforded by the gig economy is enough to motivate people to adopt this new way of working. This includes the independence to work from home, and the ability to choose the hours and tasks they actually want to perform.
The Disadvantages Of A Gig Economy
We wish it was all butterflies and daisies when it comes to a gig economy, but unfortunately, there are some downsides. Not to mention some bad players who have used this new market in less than ethical ways.
Circling back to the “if done correctly” statement, many employers are missing the mark. Commitment from employees is a major issue for businesses that rely solely on temporary, part-time, or freelance work. This is because many businesses deploy their strategies in unethical ways. They simply switch to a casual workforce to save a buck on benefits packages, retirement plans, sick days, vacations, competitive wages, and more.
Many businesses forget they’re hiring people, not mindless drones.
That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of good-faith businesses out there. Ones who understand that profits are the goal of any business, but extravagant profits should never come at the expense of the people who work for them.
Another driving factor behind this economy is the incentive to earn extra income. However, there are many who would counter, that instead of working a single 40-hour-a-week job for $60,000, we have mostly traded that for working multiple jobs and additional hours, without the additional pay to match.
Are The Next Generation Of Workers Ready?
With the market shifting and the times changing, it wouldn’t be acceptable to think the same old ways of teaching will be sufficient. Soft skills like networking, time management, creative thinking, and negotiation will be more important than ever.
Are our schools preparing the next generation of workers for a gig economy?
The latest episode of the Thinc. Underground Podcast features Arlinda Demiri, Founder of Scholarly Elite, a high-end tutoring service driven by integrity and empowerment.
Join Host Arif Khan as he picks Arlinda’s brain about the current education system and the gaps that exist within it, including equity across school boards, confidence in foundational skill building, and improper frequency and reinforcement of past learning. “There’s a lot we’re doing right…but I do think as a society there’s a lot more that needs to be done.”