What Is the Gig Economy?

In a gig economy business, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees. A gig economy undermines the traditional economy of full-time workers who rarely change positions and instead focus on a lifetime career.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • 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 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.

Understanding the Gig Economy

In a gig economy business, large numbers of people work part-time or temporary positions. The result of a gig economy is cheaper, more efficient services, such as Uber or Airbnb, for those willing to use them. Those who don’t engage in using technological services such as the Internet tend to be left behind by the benefits of the gig economy. Cities tend to have the most highly developed services and are the most entrenched in the gig economy.

There is a wide range of positions that fall into the category of a gig. For example, adjunct and part-time professors are contracted employees as opposed to tenured or tenure-track professors. Colleges and universities can cut costs and match professors to their academic needs by hiring more adjunct and part-time professors.

The Factors of a Gig Economy

America is well on its way to establishing a gig economy business model, and estimates show as much as a third of the working population is already in some gig capacity. Experts expect this working number to rise, as these types of positions facilitate independent contracting work as many of those jobs don’t require the freelancer to come into the office to work.

Employers also have a wider range of applicants to choose from as they don’t have to hire someone based on their proximity. Additionally, computers have developed to the point that they can take the place of the jobs people previously held.

In the modern digital world, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to work remotely or from home.

Economic reasons also factor into the development of a gig economy business. Most times, employers cannot afford to hire full-time employees to do all the work they need to be done, so they hire part-time or temporary employees to take care of busier times or specific projects.

On the side of the employee, people often find they need to move around or take multiple positions to afford the lifestyle they want. People also tend to change careers many times throughout their lives, so the gig economy can be viewed as a reflection of this occurring on a large scale.

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