What are Gig Workers?
In the heat of the digital era, technology development, and transition, the gig economy is becoming a more sustainable option. People are increasingly joining the gig marketplace, as it offers more flexibility, financial support, and a better work-life balance.
But what are gig workers, and how does the gig economy differ from traditional 9 to 5 jobs and full-time arrangements? Keep reading to find out.
What is a gig worker?
Gig workers are people who earn their income through short-term, project-based work arrangements and part-time contracts. Unlike traditional job positions, gig workers don’t have an employee status in a particular establishment or organisation. Instead, they work independently and are typically paid per hour or project.
How many gig workers are there?
It’s a fact that the gig economy has been on the rise. The flexibility of this model has significantly impacted the demand for an online workforce and shaped how traditional establishments operate.
In fact, ⅓ of the worldwide labour has engaged in the gig economy so far, and these numbers are expected to grow in the future. This is due to gig workers having the freedom to organise their own work schedules, work more casual jobs, and engage in temporary roles to enhance their financial stability.
Except for being beneficial for today’s workforce, the gig economy will grow due to some other factors, such as changes in lifestyles and customer behaviours due to global crises, and the enhanced rise of internet technologies.
Types of gig workers
Even though the gig economy has been most impacted by the demand for an online and remote workforce, it also expands on traditional job positions. Thanks to the flexibility and financial freedom they provide, these arrangements are slowly taking over conventional full-time roles.
Hence, here are some of the types of short-term and project-based roles with growing demands.
Freelancers are self-employed people that provide their skills, expertise, and knowledge to individuals or organisations in the form of services. Freelancers have the freedom to customise and adjust their workloads, accept as many projects and contracts as they want, and get paid per project or per hour, depending on the arrangement.
Today, freelance work extends to many fields, such as software development, graphic design, content marketing, accounting, and even management. However, freelance workers are not part of any establishment or organisation, and therefore, they’re responsible for paying their own taxes, insurance, and other contributions.
2. Tutors and teachers
The latest global trends and events have also impacted education systems. Today, people get their education through real-time online classes, subscriptions, podcasts, ebooks, and other types of materials and channels. With all these lifestyle changes and modern trends, teaching and tutoring roles are slowly becoming a crucial part of the gig economy.
Tutoring services don’t only apply to teaching languages, maths, history and other conventional subjects. Today, gig workers are successfully offering their services in many other fields, such as fitness and yoga teaching, personal and lifestyle coaching, financial education, and other modern professions.
3. Construction workers
The gig economy has shifted the entire perception of traditional roles, including construction roles. Construction workers today have the freedom to work as independent contractors, and therefore, provide better financial stability without being dependent on companies and corporations.
The gig economy allows construction workers to trade their skills and physical labour for certain fees. At the same time construction gigs are a more cost-effective, and convenient solution for organisations and individuals in need of these services.
4. Finance professionals
Some aspects of the gig economy have increased the demand for financial services. Both gig workers and companies rely on the services of financial professionals, including accounting, money and tax management, client invoicing, and other areas. Due to the lower cost of hiring and better convenience, finance professionals are vital for the gig economy and can offer their expertise independently.
5. Administrative support professionals
Modern trends have also impacted the evolution of administrative support roles. Thanks to the rise of the gig economy, administrative support professionals are able to offer their expertise independently as services. Some of the most common part-time and project-based administrative roles include administrative and virtual assistant, data entry specialist, system administrator, project manager, and others.
6. Food service and hospitality workers
The food and hospitality sectors have been relying on the gig economy long before the digital revolution. However, if these were only seasonal jobs in the past, the technology modernisation and transition have shifted the entire concept in the industry.
The gig economy is beneficial for both establishments and organisations as well as individuals seeking gigs. Companies benefit from part-time workers and individual contractors, while gig workers are able to maintain economic stability through their skills, knowledge and assets. A great example of this is offering accommodation on platforms like Airbnb, as well as personal chefs, bartenders, caterers, and other roles.
7. Transportation services
The transportation sector has been influenced by both the gig economy and the sharing economy. Our lifestyles have been impacted by apps such as Uber, Lyft, Uber Eats, and similar platforms as they offer cheaper and more convenient solutions to everyday problems. Therefore, gig workers can offer a wide variety of transportation services, including food and package delivery, and people transportation.
How to become a gig worker?
The gig economy model has shaped the entire concept of how people earn their incomes. And it’s no surprise that this marketplace is growing day to day. If you want to become part of the gig economy and offer your expertise independently, keep reading. In the following section, you can find tips to help you become competitive in the gig marketplace.
Join an online marketplace
Online marketplaces are the core of the gig economy. Thanks to these platforms, gig workers can offer their skills and services to individuals and companies. Online marketplaces are designed to remove physical barriers and connect sellers and buyers worldwide. Therefore, they open up great opportunities to offer a vast array of services.
Some of the most popular platforms where gig workers offer services are Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, Uber, Lyft, and others.
Build a portfolio
Portfolios speak volumes about the gig worker’s expertise and experience. In order to be successful in the gig market, it’s essential to provide potential buyers with evidence of your previous work.
Portfolios shouldn’t be limited only to your previous projects. For instance, those who work in the food, hospitality and transportation sectors can include ratings by previous customers. Recommendation letters by previous employers can also be helpful.
Network with people in your industry
Working independently as a gig contractor doesn’t mean staying isolated from other people in the sector. On the contrary. Having professional contacts isn’t only helpful to keep up with the latest events and trends in the industry, but it can also help in meeting key people and opening opportunities for more gigs.
How do gig workers find freelance jobs?
With over 1 billion freelancers in the world, freelancing became the greatest part of the gig economy. These types of arrangements are attractive as they give gig workers more freedom, allow to establish their own working schedules, and make a great source of income. If you’re wondering how people manage to get gigs on the freelance market, there is more than just one option.
In the first place, there are dozens of online platforms that allow people to publish gigs and offer a variety of services. Such platforms let gig workers customise their offers, place their payment rates, and promote their services to buyers worldwide. Some of the most popular platforms for freelancers are Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, LinkedIn, and others.
But freelance platforms aren’t the only place where gig workers can offer their services. Some new trends, such as the development of remote working and digital nomadism, imposed organisations to stay flexible and go beyond the traditional 9 to 5 roles. Therefore, many companies today offer job arrangements on a freelance basis, which makes for a great opportunity for those who are not very successful on freelance platforms.
Pros and cons of being a gig worker
The gig economy is a model that opens a new set of opportunities and brings a lot of challenges to both companies and gig workers. Before deciding to join the gig workforce, it’s essential to evaluate the positive and negative aspects of this model. Some of the pros of being a gig worker include:
- Independence – The gig economy consists of freelancers and independent contractors that are able to customise their workloads and define their own payment rates. This gives gig workers greater freedom and can trigger positive outcomes in many other aspects.
- Financial stability – Depending on the sector and the expertise, some gig workers may earn more than regular full-timers. With the flexibility the gig economy offers, people are fully allowed to choose the types and number of gigs they want, and furthermore, control their earnings.
- Innovation – The gig economy is a unique model that imposes being creative and innovative, nurturing quality processes, and thinking outside the box to succeed.
While there are many positive aspects, gig workers also tend to face many challenges that can discourage people from joining this model. Here are some of the most significant cons of being a gig worker:
- Lack of socialisation – Gig workers are operating independently, and they’re more likely to experience a lack of work culture, isolation, and even anxiety, compared to people with full-time jobs.
- Expenses – Full-timers get benefits such as health insurance, and retirement plans, which is not the case with gig workers. On top of providing this, gig workers need to pay taxes and supply themselves with the work equipment they need to operate on the market.
- Instability – The competition in the gig marketplace is rather dynamic. Hence, some gig workers may experience an inconsistent flow of gigs, which can hinder their financial stability.
What are the experiences of gig workers?
As the gig market tends to be very dynamic, different gig workers may have different experiences. However, people who earn their incomes from gigs report satisfaction due to having flexibility and control over their working schedules and earnings.
The gig workforce also faces some challenges. For instance, many gig workers are experiencing an inconsistent flow of gigs and earnings, and not being as competitive in the gig market. Gig workers also report having no access to benefits such as healthcare coverage and retirement plans, which may be discouraging for those who want to join the marketplace.
To Wrap Up
Gig workers are people who earn their income in short-term arrangements, rather than the classic full-time jobs. Some of the most demanded types of gig workers are freelancers, tutors, finance professionals, and food, hospitality, and transportation workers.
The gig economy has shown a rising trend. This is due to factors such as giving workers independence, financial stability, and fostering innovation. The gig economy also imposes new challenges, such as a lack of socialisation, inconsistency, and various expenses. However, even after all these challenges, the gig economy is expected to rise more in the future.