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To Gig or Not to Gig: Is It the Right One for You?

Picture of Faith Chukwuka

Faith Chukwuka

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The Gig economy is quickly becoming popular and seemingly a viable option for individuals and companies alike. This blog post explains exactly what it is, who is best suited for this type of venture and how one can be successful.

For years, we relied on traditional employment models of full time or part time jobs. We typically worked a set number of hours per week and carried out the same set of tasks month after month.  Recently the work force has been shifting towards the gig economy; where jobs are more flexible, and task are varied depending on skills and interests.

What is the Gig Economy?

The gig economy is a free and global market where companies and contractors (independent workers) set short-term and on-demand professional relationships that are both flexible and skill-based. (Youmatter 2020)

 The gig economy gets its name from each piece of work being akin to an individual ‘gig’ and globally includes:

  • Independent Contractors
  • Seasonal employees
  • Diversified Workers
  • Temp Workers
  • Freelance Business Owners
  • Moonlighters

Whilst seen as such, not all roles within the gig economy are technologically based. Gig workers can work for traditional companies that have adjusted their staffing systems in several areas. Other areas such as chauffeuring, home cleaning and catering, for example, also utilize the gig system.

What is unique about the gig economy is that it is mostly platform, app or firm based. Whereby, workers usually register on platforms, use apps or firms to help them find the jobs they do. Hence, why it is sometimes referred to as the platform economy.

Why is it growing?

The gig economy continues to grow daily, one reason for the continual growth of this workforce is the constant evolution of technology. It has become easier to telecommute to remote work and clients; and companies can source and hire talent from anywhere in the world with little effort. Additionally, full time employment is becoming scarcer.

Many of the popular gig companies like Airbnb use mobile apps to operate their businesses. This makes the process more accessible and faster for persons who wish to begin their journey with them as contract workers.

Freelance business owners can now turn to apps platforms like Fiverr to market themselves and sell their services. They can also utilize social media which is free or way cheaper than traditional advertising.

The rise in technology makes performing certain tasks less time consuming and, in some instances, has eliminated some jobs completely.

Gig employment is also allowing many companies to reduce their staffing cost; it is cheaper to hire freelancers or contractors for individual projects than having full time staff.

Is gig work right for you?

To know if gig work is right for you; ask yourself these questions.

  • Do you prefer consistency or constant change?

Gig work is best for you if you enjoy working in varying situations; are open to adjusting to the unique requirements of each company and can easily adjust your work style accordingly.

  • Do you consider yourself a team player?

You will have to work with nearly every type of manager, coworker, and client imaginable as a freelancer. If you have strong interpersonal skills and work well with diverse personalities, then this may be suited to you.

  • Can you perform under pressure?

Freelancers are often hired to work on special projects or as support to full-time staff during peak work periods. Do you have strong organizational skills, the ability to produce quality work within tight deadlines? If you answered yes, to those then you will probably excel at gig work.

  • Are you comfortable bragging?

People often assume that once you do good work, clients will follow. Although quality work is key to building clientele, as a gig worker you need to market yourself and your services on your own.  This is one sure way to grow your client list.

How to develop a gig mindset.

To be successful in the gig economy you must have the right mindset. Some may naturally have this mindset, but it isn’t just limited to them.  

The one thing that people who are successful in the gig economy have in common is their desire to have freedom and flexibility. One of the things gig workers report is that they feel they live richer lives.  “Although they worried about unpredictable schedules and finances, they also felt they had mustered more courage and were leading richer lives than their corporate counterparts.” (Wrzesniewski, Ashford, & Petriglieri 2018)

Part of preparing to enter the gig economy is knowing that you will need to put support systems and have coping strategies in place. The most common of these is cultivating connections to places, routines, purpose and people. These connections help them to withstand the emotional toll that job insecurity, isolation and other gig related challenges pose and the freedom they receive helps to inspire and motivate them.

Positioning yourself to take advantage of opportunities in the digital workplace.

First start by determining what skill or skills you have that you would like to share and that are in demand. Then sign up with us and join our Skills Board to start your journey. Another option to consider, if you don’t have a service to offer but actually wish to rent an additional home or part of your home, then you can get on Airbnb. Airbnb currently has over 300 listings in Barbados including the popular pool house Paradise Point. There are also local opportunities for gig work through companies WiFetch, who contract out their shopping and driving positions.

Challenges

Compensation (inclusive of perquisites) is one of the biggest disadvantages posed by the gig economy. Full time employees are entitled to certain benefits and security that freelance workers are not. This is due to the businesses they gig for categorizing them as sub-contractor and independent contractors. Therefore, they don’t have a set minimum wage, or receive overtime pay and unemployment benefits.  For some people, this provides flexibility; for others, however, it symbolises the end of the protection and security offered by an employment contract.

This arrangement is often used to save businesses money but can create difficulties for the workers.

The Future of Work

Self-employment was sometimes viewed negatively or was used as code for unemployed, however, the rise of the gig economy has made being self-employed more socially acceptable. “The rapid growth in the gig economy suggests that this is the future of work.” (Kobie 2018)

If you are interested in joining the gig economy; consider whether you have the skills or services required, review the pros and cons, and get to know the intricacies of contract work before making your choice.

We would like to hear from you! Have you previously participated in the gig economy? Are you interested in joining?

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