Gig Economy: Is it the Future of Work?

“I don’t even know what I do anymore... the 9-to-5 just drains my spirit."

"Another ridiculous company policy; it feels like I've sold my soul to this job.” 

If the above rant sounds familiar, remember you are not alone… what if there is an alternative!

Have you heard of the Gig Economy??

Let’s firstly understand what gig economy is…

Unlike traditional employees who often work long hours for a single employer, gig economy workers operate on a freelance basis, juggling multiple projects for different companies simultaneously. These workers include:

  • Freelancers 
  • Consultants
  • Independent contractors and professionals
  • Temps (temporary contract workers)

The Numbers Don’t Lie…

Here are some striking statistics about the gig economy:

  • Upwork reports that 57.3 million people freelance in the U.S. By 2027, this number is expected to reach 86.5 million.
  • Edison Research found that about 53% of gig workers are between the ages of 18-34, using gig work as their primary income source.
  • A McKinsey survey indicated that 1 in 6 traditional workers wants to become an independent earner, and a Deloitte study found that 64% of full-time workers are interested inside hustles to make extra money.
  • PYMNTS noted that 41% of gig workers are hired for their unique skills, with 45% preferring independent work for life. Only 20% want to transition to full-time salaried jobs, according to a BCG Henderson study.
  • A 2017 EY study revealed that 24% of the world’s gig workers come from India, making it the second-largest market for freelancing, contributing to 40% of global freelancing work (ICRIER Future of Work in the Digital Era: Potential and Challenges for Online Freelancing and Microwork in India). 
  • Additionally, a McKinsey survey reveals that 79% of individuals in the gig economy report higher satisfaction compared to traditional workers.

The Rise and Rise of Gig Economy

With technological advancements and the rise of remote working, the gig economy offers skilled workers flexibility and the opportunity to work on projects they are passionate about, getting paid for their expertise. This rise is also tied to our brain's need for variety and flexibility. Unlike monotonous traditional 9-5 jobs, gig work allows for productivity through diverse tasks, enhancing our skills and creativity.

What about the loyalty with the company until retirement do us apart!!

Sounds melodramatic and so last generation, right? ??

Companies once valued long-term loyal employees, but the modern business landscape is different. To stay competitive, businesses now appreciate the benefits of a flexible workforce. Freelancers and contractors can deliver real-time results without the additional costs of hiring, training, and onboarding. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, 81% of U.S. freelancers maintain long-term relationships with multiple clients. With Gen Z entering the workforce and redefining career norms, the gig economy is becoming a viable solution.

Gig workers save companies money by working remotely, eliminating the need for office space. Top companies now rely on independent consultants for key projects and initiatives, creating a win-win situation for both parties.

Here are some additional reasons why Gig Economy is Thriving: 

  • Unique Skills and Flexibility: Gig workers bring specialized skills to niche roles, offering fresh perspectives and innovative solutions.
  • Cost Efficiency: Companies get value for their money by scaling up or down based on project demands, reducing overhead costs like employee benefits and training. 
  • Performance Based Contracts: Short-term contracts allow for flexibility and easy renewal based on performance and delivery. 
  • Independence and Satisfaction: Gig workers enjoy the freedom to pursue their passions, build their personal brand, and deliver results from day one. This independence also provides immense job satisfaction and purpose as they move away from the traditional hustle and bustle of life and bridge a gap between their personal interest, motivation and need in the world and build true connection by their meaningful offerings and service. 
  • Discipline: It also helps them build skills of discipline and reflection as the work of gig workers is on project basis and every project they deliver is a reflection of themselves and they need to be working in a space where they are able to deliver their best at all capacity. 

Is it a Bed of Rose? - The Other Side of The Coin:

If you are thinking it sounds so fancy, wait until you know the other side of the coin and make a decision. 

  • Financial Instability: A 2018 report found that 58%-80% of gig workers struggle with unexpected expenses. An Upwork survey noted that 63% of full-time freelancers experience a monthly dip in savings until they build a base/brand.
  • Lack of Familiarity: Gig workers may struggle with a company's processes and culture, leading to potential quality issues.
  • No Benefits: Unlike traditional employees, gig workers don’t receive company benefits or support.
  • Scheduling Conflicts: Coordinating with multiple clients can make it difficult to meet immediate company needs.

If it’s your cup of tea…let’s find out what can you do to become a gig worker:

  • Find your Niche: Find a skill or service that offers value to companies and clients. Show them what unique qualities you bring to the table.
  • Build Connections: Network effectively to find work that aligns with your passions
  • Consistent Delivery: Treat every project as if it’s your last. Consistently deliver high-quality work to establish your reputation. Because every project can be your last project, literally!
  • Fair and Win-Win Negotiation: Ensure that both you and your clients benefit from your agreements in terms of pay, benefits, and scope.

Finally, the gig economy thrives on the principles of vitality and viability. Mastering these "Vs" can lead to success in this dynamic work environment. 

About the Author

Revathi is a Counseling Psychologist and International Career Coach (NCDA, USA Certified Career Service Provider) with over four years of experience in mental health and wellness counseling, training, and education. Having conducted over 700+ hours of adult individual counseling sessions, she specializes in intrapersonal, career, and relationship domains. Revathi has delivered 15+ training sessions in Mental Health and Wellness and is a fervent believer in preventive mental health. Her mission is to make mental health accessible and affordable, overcoming stigma and unawareness.

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