The gig economy is quickly catching on, with more millennials opting for short-term “gigs” rather than long-term permanent work contracts.
Even though there isn’t a fixed definition, the gig economy can be summarised as “an economy in which temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace, and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees.”
Freelancers, independent contractors, and people who take up a variety of small jobs (think Uber) are all part of the gig economy.
Today, more than one in ten employees are part of the gig economy, a number that is steadily increasing.
You might be wondering what draws people to this sort of work lifestyle. Think about it: would you rather be working from a location of your choice at the hours you please, or would you rather work a fixed time from an office cubicle?
With more millennials entering the workforce, the flexibility and accessibility offered by gigs are more appealing than the daily grind.
In fact, allowing for flexibility was named one of the top three workplace trends in 2016. If successful, freelancers find that the gig economy can make them a great amount of money.
Sure, it requires some major hustling and time-management skills — those involved in the gig economy often overwork themselves by accepting too many jobs — but the rewards can be fulfilling.
On the other hand, short-term jobs don’t provide any job security and stability. They are sometimes shunned by those who are well into their careers.
Since most employers who hire independent contractors or freelancers do not provide benefits, those in the gig economy often have to arrange for benefits like insurance and 401(k)s independently, which can be quite an expense.
Furthermore, billing, invoicing, and filing freelancer taxes become a whole new ballgame. More often than not, freelancers themselves are their own worst enemy. When working in an unsupervised environment, it’s easy to lose track of time.
Breaks are either too long or completely forgotten, hours can get irregular, and things tend to pile up until the last moment.
The gig economy becomes more complex with every passing day due to the increase in opportunities and acceptance of non-traditional lifestyles.
In general, though, there are certain traits that can help one succeed. An article in Forbes states that one of these includes enjoying risk and adventure over security.
People that do so are motivated rather than scared by uncertainty, and the thrill of a constantly changing environment is what drives them.
Being able to deal with dynamism, quickly adapting to new conditions, and using failure as a stepping stone to try something new are characteristics that will serve one well in the gig economy.
Secondly, it’s integral to be extremely goal driven. Almost everyone has set a goal at some point in their lives.
Most people make New Year’s resolutions or engage in some goal-setting process within their companies during reviews. Yet, very few people successfully achieve their set goal, in their original time frame.
Working gigs is a lot like goal-setting, except that without delivering, one doesn’t get paid. Unlike in a regular office, there are no bosses or managers constantly monitoring employees to make sure tasks are completed on time.
In the gig economy, it all comes down to personal responsibility and motivation. That’s why being able to achieve the goals you set is vital, especially in terms of earning enough to get by.
Managing time and being on top of the organization game is key to getting things done since slacking or getting a colleague to tide you over simply isn’t an option when working alone.
The Freelance Market
While the gig economy may not be for everyone, it can certainly be fulfilling for those who choose it. More than 60 percent of freelancers claim they started freelancing by choice, as opposed to being forced into it due to losing a job or any other circumstance.
Experts at Rutgers University even predict that the freelance market will rise to 40 million workers by 2019.
What this shows is that the gig economy is slowly becoming a viable career option rather than a backup.
So if this sort of alternative working environment appeals to you, and you think you possess the characteristics to succeed within it, then go ahead and give it a try.
Is the Gig Economy For You?
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