The “Gig” Economy and You

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in Careers

When you think of the job you might have someday, how do you picture it? Do you imagine yourself working in an office setting with traditional nine-to-five hours, coworkers, and a pension plan? You may have to adjust your vision. Traditional nine-to-five jobs are making way for the growing “gig” economy, with interesting implications for the U.S. workforce.

Being a Gig Worker

In a gig economy, employees don’t work for a permanent company or boss. Instead, they make a living by accepting a series of short-term contracts of freelance work, or “gigs.” Basically, a gig worker is hired to complete a single project or job, and when it is completed, that worker moves on to something else. Examples of gigs might be writing a jingle for a company, developing a Web site for a small business, proofreading a textbook manuscript, or painting a house.

Being a gig worker means that you have a lot of flexibility with your job; you can build your employment around your life and what is convenient for you. You can set your own hours, take time off when you need to, and work harder some times than others. It’s also good for people who like to be their own boss. As long as you successfully complete the project by the established deadline, no one tells you when to do your job. Some people also prefer the constantly-changing nature of gig work to more traditional employment simply because of the variety it offers. There is no boredom in gig work, because each new project comes with its own set of responsibilities and challenges.

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Credit: McGraw-Hill Education

Credit: McGraw-Hill Education

What Makes It Different

The major downside to this kind of job freedom is that a lack of steady employment also means a lack of steady income. Some gigs pay more than others, making it impossible to count on a certain income–a big problem if a worker is trying to support a family. Workers may sometimes find themselves caught between gigs with zero income as a result. In addition, most gig employers do not provide their gig workers with any kind of benefits, leaving them with no sick leave, no retirement plan, and no health insurance.

In short, gig work can be a great option for people who are self-motivated, hard-working, and who are able to budget well and adapt to constantly changing situations and demands. If that sounds like you, then the gig economy might be a good fit!

What Do You Think? Do you think you would make a good gig employee? Why or why not? What personal qualities would make you successful – or not so successful–at this type of work?