You may be thinking that independent contractors have been around forever so what’s the big deal?
One word: Technology.
The “Uberization” of Everything
Grab your smart phone and get access to billions of people. Download an app and a marketplace of people are instantly at your fingertips, willing to do any tasks that you need. A ride to your chosen destination, food delivered to your front door, car repairs, or just someone to hang out with… the opportunities are endless with today’s current digital ecosystem.
Technology has allowed our workforce to become increasingly more mobile and made it possible for work to be done from anywhere. Freelancers can pick up “gigs” anywhere in the world, regardless of where they live. And employers can select the best individuals for specific projects from a larger pool in any given area.
In addition to Uber (who’s had a rough year so far), other companies you may have heard of include AirBNB, InstaCart, Lyft, PostMates, Task Rabbit, Udemy and more. They each play a significant role in this new world.
The Gig Economy
The gig economy is more about work being done, services being provided and less about jobs being held. On-demand, temporary and flexible jobs are becoming more commonplace as companies of all sizes start leaning towards hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees. Businesses save resources and money in terms of benefits, office space, taxes and training.
The gig economy is a macro shift from the traditional economy of full-time workers who focus on a lifetime career, to a more modern mentality of freedom, choice and flexibility. It’s also a part of a cultural shift lead by the explosive growth of millennials as the largest generation in today’s workforce. The current reality is that people tend to change jobs many times throughout their working lives; the gig economy is an evolution of that trend.
The United States is clearly in the middle of a strong and growing gig economy and it is estimated that over 33% of the working population is already working in some type of gig role. Even full-time employees are getting into the gig economy as side hustlers, moonlighters and part-time workers. In 2016 alone, over a trillion dollars was paid to independent contractors.