In the last decade, technology has evolved at an incredible pace – and it had a major influence on the way we work and live. Smartphone owners demanded faster mobile broadband, and with it came an abundance of mobile-first (and mobile-only) services. With the spread of high-quality, fast internet connections, young professionals from all over the world ditched their office jobs to pursue a location-independent lifestyle – digital nomads emerged, roaming the land with their laptops in their backpacks, working from wherever they want.
With remote work becoming more and more viable, an ever-increasing number of people around the world have started to consider becoming their own boss. After all, it’s easy to feel trapped in a 9-to-5 job, especially if the work hours grow longer each month, and not even the best tips for getting a raise seem to work. People have started to look for viable side hustles, and in many cases, these side hustles have become their full-time jobs. Economists have found a name for this phenomenon: “gig economy”. And they predicted it to grow fast in the coming years.
What is a “gig economy”?
Defining the “gig economy” is a tough one, even for the most seasoned professionals, because the specialists don’t seem to agree on what it covers – if you want, you can define it as the practice of people working on a per-project basis rather than full-time but you can also include (or not) the second jobs and the side-hustles people choose to round up their budgets. In some cases, it is equated with freelancing, in others, it’s not. Thus, the number of people involved in this elusive branch of the global economy is hard to grasp: some sources speak of 50 million people in the US alone, others put it closer to 80.
But all sources agree that the “gig economy” phenomenon is growing.
Gig economy in 2020
On one hand, an ever-increasing number of people in the active workforce (or even outside of it, like retirees) participate in the gig economy in one form or another. And many businesses see it as a profitable arrangement, too: hiring a professional for a specific project is much cheaper in the long run than hiring a full-time professional, and there is also room for negotiation. Hiring a freelancer, in turn, can take time, which makes hiring in-house staff the better choice for time-critical projects.
The workers involved in it can enjoy the greater flexibility and work-life balance it offers, and most importantly, they get to work a job they enjoy. For this, in turn, they have to put up with less stability, more uncertainty, and the possibility of a fluctuating monthly income.
All things considered, the gig economy works for now. You see people moonlighting as Uber drivers, delivering food, and designing brochures and websites in their free time – or full time, in some cases. And until it’s worth it for both parties – or until some new regulation throws things off – the gig economy will continue to grow this year.