As advancements in personal computing continue to push industries all over the globe in new directions, the business sector is being hit with another adaptation of technology adoption touted as the gig economy. A new anytime, anywhere workforce is emerging that seeks to redefine traditional offices, while redrawing the landscape of work-life balance. A recent NPR piece titled Goodbye Jobs, Hello ‘Gigs’: How One Word Sums Up A New Economic Reality suggests that the gig economy hints at the future of work.
This is not a trend to ignore. The report also explains that this will be ‘the industrial revolution of our times and that the lifetime job is history, we’re told, a victim of technology and the logic of the market. Instead, careers will be a patchwork of temporary projects and assignments, with the help of apps and platforms with perky names like FancyHands, Upwork, and TaskRabbit.
It is also being called the on-demand economy, the 1099 economy, the peer-to-peer economy, and freelance nation, among other things.’ Upwork and the Freelancers Union’s annual report ‘found that more people than ever are choosing to freelance, up to 55 million this year, or 35% of the total U.S. workforce.’
What is a Gig? Essentially it is any independent or freelance project work involving contractors or other self-starters. Increasingly these workers are not tied to a static desk in one location watching a clock for a set period, rather they are movers and shakers that get things done in changing, creative, dynamic environments, setting their own pace and schedules.
Georgetown University Law Professor Mark A Cohen, in Legal Delivery in the Gig Economy wrote that “during the past decade, close to 10 million alternative work arrangements were created, and nearly 16 percent of all US ‘job’ are nontraditional employment arrangements.” He also discusses how millennials in the legal profession now routinely expect greater independence, flexibility, and variety in their professional lives.
While the reviews are still mixed, the good news is that the gig economy offers benefits everyone can take advantage of, including:
- Responsive, interconnected, and dynamic teams
- Lower Human Resources costs as on-demand hiring takes over
- Reduced travel and office costs as anywhere work and video conferencing are expected
- Increased competition for talent
- A better work-life balance for all
- A more human and integrated workplace
- A creative environment that is ever changing – instead of one desk/office that never changes
- Productivity soars as passion is encouraged
BLS.gov lists even more pros and cons of gig work. One way or another, it’s clear that this shift will continue to reshape outdated notions of “working 9 to 5” while modernizing office spaces and taking full advantage of emerging technologies.