The pandemic caused many businesses to temporarily close or permanently shut down, so many people lost their jobs. After being let go, some people decided to go freelance, instead of looking for another employer. Others started small businesses, selling either products or services to individuals and other businesses.
These freelance and self-employment setups are all under the gig economy. This term refers to a labor market where individuals work on a freelance or temporary basis and do not have a traditional employer. Typically, gig workers work on a project for only a few weeks or months. They also usually handle several projects at a time.
The gig economy has always had a prominent presence in the labor industry. In June 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 15.5 million U.S. workers under the gig economy. These workers are either independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary agency workers, and contract firm workers.
This number has since increased, especially today, with people shifting to the gig economy because of the pandemic. And due to its perks, it seems like the gig economy is here to stay and can potentially become the future of work.
Gig workers control their schedule. This flexibility in time helps gig workers achieve work-life balance. Interestingly, a flexible schedule and work-life balance are two of the main factors people consider when looking for a job. And this is why people who try being gig workers tend to stay.
Independent workers can start work at any time of the day. They don’t have to follow a work shift, whether day or night. They also don’t need to always work nine hours a day, as opposed to a traditional employee. For instance, if a gig worker can finish all their work tasks early in the afternoon, then they can have the rest of the day to relax and spend time with their family and friends.
Ability to Choose Projects
A gig worker doesn’t have a boss or a manager to assign them tasks. This work setup is very motivating since it gives them the freedom to choose what tasks they want to work on. For instance, if a creative freelancer is adept in customization projects, then they can take souvenir projects, such as personalized knives, jewelry, or nameplates, from interested clients. They can also choose to set up a store and sell these items. Or for web designers, they can choose to work with brands with whom they share values or select projects they can confidently execute.
Along with choosing projects, gig workers can also negotiate project timelines. This is different from working an office job where deadlines are set by someone else.
Opportunity to Become Experts in Other Fields
The opportunity to choose projects can help a gig worker experience other fields and discover something new about themselves. If a person wants to shift careers, they can get short-term gigs under the career of their interest. This way, they can earn experience and learn more about the field to determine if it’s the right fit for them.
For example, a seasoned blog writer might find that simply writing blogs no longer fulfill him or her. That said, they can branch out into other industries where they can transfer their writing skills and add variety to their work experience. For example, they can try social media marketing or proofreading and editing.
Ability to Earn More Money
Since a gig worker can handle many projects at a time, they can potentially earn more money than working in an office job. For instance, some virtual assistants have two or more clients at a time, all on a temporary basis. This means that they need to divide their working hours into three to accommodate all these clients.
Being a gig worker can give a person a strong sense of fulfillment. Depending on how well they manage their time, they can easily achieve work-life balance by working on a freelance or on-demand basis. The ability to choose projects can also help gig workers really pour themselves into their work since they can do something they like or love to do, rather than being made to do tasks they dread.
Like all things, the gig economy has its drawbacks. For example, workers must file their own taxes. Finding projects may take a lot of time. Workers also don’t have employer-contributed benefits such as healthcare and retirement plans. But for many, these drawbacks aren’t deal-breakers. The freedom and personal fulfillment that they get from working in the gig economy are enough for them to continue.