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What Is a Gig Economy?

In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend to hire independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees. A gig economy undermines the traditional economy of full-time workers who often focus on their career development.

  • The gig economy is based on flexible, temporary, or freelance jobs, often involving connecting with clients or customers through an online platform.
  • The gig economy can benefit workers, businesses, and consumers by making work more adaptable to the needs of the moment and the demand for flexible lifestyles.
  • At the same time, the gig economy can have downsides due to the erosion of traditional economic relationships between workers, businesses, and clients.
  • What is a Gig Economy?

    • A gig economy is an economy that operates flexibly, involving the exchange of labor and resources through digital platforms that actively facilitate buyer and seller matching.
    • In the gig economy, organizations hire independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees. It is because work is allocated on a temporary basis, not requiring a systematic schedule. A similar arrangement can be seen in companies such as Uber, DoorDash, and Airbnb.
    • The result of a gig economy produces cheaper, more efficient, and flexible services that can offer consumers a unique and fast alternative to regular, standardized business. In addition, it is solely operated through the internet, making it an extremely popular choice for the younger demographic.
    • In the United States, it is estimated that about one-third of the population is operating in some form of gig capacity. The number is expected to rise as more organizations adopt independent contractor work in order to save time and money.
    • The gig economy has risen drastically in popularity over the last half-decade and is now a very common way for individuals to earn a second stream of income.
    • More precisely, it is estimated that 1.6 million workers worldwide get their income from the gig economy.

    Advantages of Working in a Gig Economy

    Operating in the gig economy produces a wide array of advantages realized by both the business and the workers.

    Shown below are some of the advantages realized by businesses:

    1. Cost-Effectiveness

    Minimizing costs and expenses are widely considered one of the major benefits of operating in the gig economy. This is because businesses are able to hire off-site workers which significantly reduces the need to maintain expensive workspaces and large offices.

    In addition, hiring independent contractors completely eliminates large expenses such as employee benefit packages, retirement plans, and paid sick leaves.

    2. Labor Force

    The gig economy provides a labor force that is able to directly match the company to the freelancer. This removes the hassle of dealing with a middleman throughout the hiring process, thus, making it easier to find people to complete the job.

    3. Output Production

    Modern workers in today’s society are beginning to value flexibility much more than compared to in the past. This is why the gig economy prospers.

    Individuals who are interested in accumulating extra income are attracted to applying for a position that offers a unique work schedule. Such flexibility directly impacts employee motivation, which in turn, creates a positive correlation to output production.

    Shown below are some of these advantages realized by the workers:

    1. Independence

    Independent contractors in the gig economy are not required to work in offices, rather, they work in their own spaces. It varies from someone working in a home office writing articles to someone working from their car driving for Uber.

    2. Flexibility

    Workers operating in the gig economy are allowed to work any of the hours they desire. In most cases, a task will be given to a worker with an end date, but when they work on it is completely up to their discourse.

    3. Income

    As mentioned above, the gig economy is an increasingly attractive market due to the sheer flexibility that allows individuals to earn extra income.

    Disadvantages of Working in a Gig Economy

    While there is a wide variety of advantages that the gig economy produces, there are also some downsides that tend to make the process difficult.

    Shown below are the disadvantages realized by businesses:

    1. Worker Commitment

    Individuals who work as freelancers may not be as invested in their organization as if they were hired full-time. In addition, gig economy companies are generally not known to incentivize their employees.

    Such an arrangement can create loyalty issues, reduce the likelihood of further work, and decrease motivation to work overall.

    2. Ethical Issues

    In some cases, organizations that operate in a gig economy are criticized for the ethical practices they perform. Their employment is casual, does not offer benefits, and generally does not offer competitive wages.

    Shown below are the disadvantages realized by workers in the gig economy:

    1. Lack of Benefits

    Organizations operating in a gig economy do not provide benefits to their workers. Independent contractors are not completely considered “employees” of the business.

    2. Personal Expenses

    In some cases, organizations within the gig economy are not required to cover personal expenses such as gas used while driving for DoorDash.

    3. Isolation

    Being an independent contractor is an extremely independent job. For some people, the arrangement is a major motivation tool, but for others, it can create a feeling of isolation, which can negatively affect production and mental health.

    Prominent Gig Economy Companies

    The gig economy is consistently growing each day, becoming one of the largest segments of businesses we interact with daily.