How well do you know about the ‘Gig Economy’?
No, it isn’t the name of the next, great undiscovered band, but in fact the term ‘gig economy’ describes the job market in which individuals can choose to work via short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to working in full-time position. It is becoming an increasingly popular choice of work method and even a lifestyle for many, due to the flexibility it provides. Popular gig economy companies such as Deliveroo and Uber pride themselves on offering flexible work schedules, employing tens of thousands of self-employed workers in the UK alone.
With the gig economy now making its mark on the world in a big way, it was only a matter of time before the companies in that sector faced stronger scrutiny. How will the gig economy solve these questions and criticism that it faces? Will more people opt for self-employment? What effect will technology have on the gig economy? Which industries are going to thrive from this new model?
Here are our 5 predictions for the gig economy in the near future;
1) The Gig Economy will evolve and overcome the recent pushback that it has experienced
The gig economy and its workers have featured fairly heavily in the news over the last 6 months. Recently, ITV News reported the ‘reality of being a self-employed rider’, following an undercover investigation into Deliveroo, which has resulted in a huge influx of negative press for the company.
A bicycle courier for CitySprint recently won an employment rights case, meaning she would be entitled to worker’s rights such as holiday pay and the national living wage.
Also, in October, a ruling found Uber drivers should also be classed as workers rather than self-employed in the UK, to protect their rights.
Though the press surrounding these high-profile cases has highlighted the criticism, here at Syft, we feel that they will have a positive impact on the gig economy as a whole. It drives more discussion on the gig economy, creating opportunities for resolution between the government and companies in the sector regarding increased transparency, fairer compensation and flexibility for workers once relevant regulations are in place.
With the British government due to review modern working practices in the coming months and the recent news that the gig economy in London has grown 72% since 2010, there does seem to be potential for positive growth in the sector once employment laws are updated with relation to gig economy employment. For example, freelancers in New York rejoiced when a bill was passed that ensured freelancers don’t need to worry about wage theft anymore and we would like to see the same support for gig workers rising worldwide!
2) The gig economy will continue to grow
The gig economy has already experienced massive growth due to the simple fact that workers have begun to recognise the benefits that it offers. The flexibility, control, wide range of working opportunities and extra money are all big draws to those looking for a new, flexible working style.
Gig jobs offer flexibility. Workers can choose when, where and how they work, without being tied down to long term employment contracts. Workers are able to pick-and-choose to their liking and allow themselves a healthy work-life balance. For those who have other responsibilities and goals outside of a traditional 9-5 career, flexibility is key and gig work provides the option to prioritise when and how often to work.
Gig jobs can offer individuals a work experience or career taster before pursuing a career in a specific profession . For example, for those interested in pursuing a career in writing, gig jobs offer the opportunity to fill in the gaps around a passion project and keep earning money whilst exploring their other passions. With any career change, there is uncertainty, and a gig job allows people to see if one wants to make the big leap without being tied down to a long term role early on. The Future of Work report by Adobe found that pursuing a passion is the number one reason, besides income, for individuals to have a second job.
Gig jobs offer workers the opportunity to earn extra money. The work offers an ideal alternative to a second part-time job if you need to bring in extra income without being tied down to a fixed schedule part-time job.
Based on these benefits and the growth that the gig economy has already experienced; we predict more people will opt for flexible employment over full time jobs in future. It is predicted by Intuit that 40% of Americans will be gig workers by the year 2020 and this trend will almost certainly reflect in the UK, too.
3) The Gig Economy will be largely utilised as a second job resource for workers already in traditional employment
The Future of Work report published by Adobe in 2016 looked at what the gig economy means for most people in the workforce:
- 1 in 3 US office workers, more than 1 in 2 in India and nearly 1 in 4 in the UK has one or more jobs on top of their primary profession. More than half of all respondents in the US, India and UK predict that it will soon be the norm to have multiple jobs.
A vast majority of the US, UK and Indian workforce are already working in one or more roles alongside their primary profession and this number will only grow in the future as millennials are entering the workforce with large student loans and a need to pay them off sooner than later. In order to achieve this and also be able to save, many workers may turn to the gig economy to earn an additional, flexible income.
4) Technology will continue to drive the Gig Economy
It is evident that the gig economy is thriving because of the use of technology - in particular, app-based technology. Uber and Deliveroo both operate from apps and there are numerous apps that act as a job portal for freelancers and gig workers.
In a world increasingly dependant on technology, here at Syft, we feel that technology will help enrich and support this growing economy, not hinder it. Of course, as technology advances, we will find ourselves moving away from app technology into artificial intelligence (AI). Already, the traditional temp agencies are gradually being replaced in the gig economy with the use of apps that connect both employers and employees, supported by a smaller operational team. Eventually, with more operational data collected, we can optimise the matching algorithm and artificial intelligence may even replace this small team entirely.
5) The hospitality industry will thrive in the Gig Economy
So, the question arises, which industry will really thrive from this flexible gig work?
We predict that the hospitality industry will benefit hugely in the gig economy. The hospitality industry has used temp workers for decades, but have been paying extortionate fees when employing temp staff via temp agencies Gig economy apps, such as Syft, are replacing the middlemen - the temporary staffing agencies - and reducing temp fees for hospitality employers by up to 55%. This is achieved by connecting employers directly to gig workers via the app, thus reducing agency fees by a substantial percentage.
By reducing the fee so drastically, employers working with Syft have been able to pay workers at a better rate, thus creating a happier, more motivated temporary workforce whilst also putting control and choice into the workers’ hands, allowing them to choose when, where and how often they work.
We predict that this number will continue to grow rapidly over the coming years, as the number of app-based platforms providing this service increases, as workers become more aware of the flexibility and benefits that the gig economy offers and employers are more adaptive to using technology for hiring temp staff instead of using temp staffing agencies.