A gig economy is a labor market that heavily relies on part-time and temporary positions filled by independent contractors or freelancers. Compared to a typical job, gigs are often done as flexible, short-term jobs rather than permanent positions done by full-time employees.
While gig workers have more flexibility and freedom with work hours, they have little job security and no benefits, like paid vacation leaves, health coverage, etc. Some employers give their gig workers benefits but often outsource the tasks and benefit programs to third-party agencies.
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What is a Gig Economy?
In a gig economy, most workers work in temporary or part-time positions. Freelancers or independent contractors fill these positions. Today, various job positions can be considered a gig. For instance, Uber drivers, freelance coders, and online writers can be regarded as gig workers.
Professors working part-time can also be considered gig workers compared to full-time and tenured professors. Universities and colleges can save costs and easily adjust to their academic needs by employing more part-time and adjunct professors.
Overall, the results of a gig economy are cheap and more efficient services, like Airbnb, Uber, and other businesses that offer short-term services.
Factors in a Gig Economy
In the modern world, more employers are looking into the gig economy to hire workers from different proximities. This especially applies during the pandemic, when it was common for people to work remotely or do online jobs. Moreover, computers nowadays can take over some jobs previously done by people or allow them to work as efficiently in an online setting as they could physically.
Countries such as the United States are on their way to establishing a gig economy, with a third of their working population working in gig-related work in 2021. Some experts expect this number to rise in the following years because most positions don’t require an independent contractor to work on-site; instead, they can work from home in a part-time position.
Employers that cannot afford to pay full-time employees are also leaning on hiring multiple part-time or temporary workers to take care of their tasks and specific projects. On the other hand, independent contractors or freelancers take on various positions or larger work hours to help afford their desired lifestyle. Some also take the opportunity to upskill or change careers throughout their time as gig workers.
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Downsides of a Gig Economy
While being a gig worker has its benefits, it also has some downsides. Although not all businesses or employers can hire part-time employees, the gig economy can disrupt the growth of full-time or tenured employees. Employers cutting costs can easily lean on temporary workers since they’re cheaper and offer more flexibility.
Some gig employees are also experiencing pressure to find the next gig once their previous gig ends. Factors such as competition and lack of skills can easily make a gig worker replaceable. Hence, it’s possible that some workers don’t get enough sleep, feel more stress, and have a mediocre work-life balance.