When I was given the privilege of being hired as a blogger for the fantastic upcoming app Veryfier, I considered jumping right in to the more in depth facets of the new gig economy. I’ve decided we’ll have plenty of time for that however, and I think a prep course is in store for my first post. Think of it as gig economics for Dummies.
So who is part of this gig economy that we hear so much of? As a writer who works as a independent contractor I’m very much a part of the gig economy. That goes for those of you reading this who drive for UBER, deliver for Postmates, or rent out your house though Airbnb. Have you booked a hotel through the Hotel Tonight app, or ordered a professional through Thumbtack? While you may not be using the gig economy to earn money, you are still very much immersed in it.
The easiest way to describe the gig economy would be this: An organization contracts with an independent individual for short term engagements. Temporary positions are common, but not always the case. For example, I’ve worked at one writing “gig” for over a year now, but I am an independent contractor who doesn’t have an official affiliation with the company and that is what differentiates the gig economy.
This looks at it from the micro level of an employee of the gig economy, but there are also macro implications to an economy where a high percentage of people are working small, temporary jobs. There is debate as to whether the increase in these type of jobs is stimulating the economy or taking away from the more typical 9 to 5 jobs. That will be discussed in coming weeks as well.
Another major difference from a standard economy is that the gig economy will often have people working for several different organizations (I’m mindful not to call them employers.) I could blog in the morning, drive LYFT mid afternoon, and work for TaskRabbit to close my day, and get three different paychecks from three different companies. This is unlike our traditional economy, where employees would generally go to a brick and mortar workplace and then go home. People would often do the same job for 40 years. Nowadays, you could work for UBER, decide it’s not for you, and sign up for LYFT 40 minutes later. 40 years versus 40 minutes may be a bit hyperbolic, but you get the idea.
The rise of cell phones and Apps have greatly changed the economy as well, and has led the way for the major players in the gig economy. While staffing agencies who find work for people like developers or designers would be considered part of the gig economy, they are becoming a thing of the past. An App, or a mobile online platform if you prefer, is becoming the way that people find their gigs. Staffing agencies are slowly going the way of the dinosaurs. The gig economy is effectively eliminating the need for a middleman. Who needs a dispatcher when you can just have your app do that?
Now that you have a general idea of what the gig economy is, you may be asking yourself just how big it is. Well it’s changing all the time and what is popular one day is a relic two months later, so studies have varied greatly. There was a study earlier this year in Time Magazine that said 44% of Americans take part in the gig economy, but that seems a bit conservative to me. I mean honestly, how many of your friends don’t use UBER?
Even if I’m willing to grant TIME that it’s only 44%, I think it’s undebatable that the number of people who use the gig economy is only going to go up. In this modern world, people don’t want to wait for a cab, in line, or even on the phone. It’s an on the go society, and people are willing to pay for anything that moves things along more quickly. The old phrase “Time is Money” has never been more apropos than in the gig economy.
There’s really no industry that the gig economy can’t penetrate in one way or another. It will be fascinating to see how big businesses change over the coming years, but if I’m not trying to adapt my business to fit the needs of the gig economy, I wouldn’t sleep well at night. “The times they are a changing” may be an old Bob Dylan tune, but it could just as easily be referring to the new world economy, and the gig economy is a big part of that change.
There are many questions that I’ll be answering here in the coming weeks and months and I’ve listed just a few right here.
- What are the advantages/disadvantages of joining the gig economy?
- Will current lawsuits inhibit the way that the biggest gig economy employers will do business?
- What are the differences between filling out a 1099 versus your standard W-2?
- Do companies like UBER use their drivers by not treating them as employees?
- Life as a freelancer (a personal story).
- How will the gig economy change over the coming years?
You should now have a good overview of what the gig economy is and an idea of what I’ll be discussing in this space. The gig economy is a fascinating change that some people have called the Industrial Revolution of the new millennium. I don’t think they are too far off.
I’d like to thank you for reading for my first post here at Veryfier and hope you’ll come back every Wednesday to read my latest.
90 % Responsible Writer. 25% Juvenile Delinquent.
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