The term ‘gig’, commonly used to describe one-time events for musicians have now spread to define a whole new ‘freelance economy’, an environment prioritizing temporary positions and short-term engagements.
The leaders of this new growing trend are app-based platforms such as Uber, that connects drivers to riders and Airbnb, that turns everyone into hotel proprietors. You might not realize it, but whenever you buy something on craigslist or crash at someone’s apartment you found on Airbnb, you are a direct contributor to this growing ‘gig’ economy.
The American market is leading the trend, and a study by Intuit predicted that the rate of independent contractors will reach 40% of the workforce by 2020.
‘Gig’ : one word to define a whole new economy on the rise.
The core idea of the gig economy is to make access to services both easier and cheaper. “Contract gigs” allow workers to make a living and become self-independent while dipping into new professions easily. While the services offered so far have been fairly low-skilled, new trend followers and start-ups are now targeting a much wider range of professions. Doctors, legal workers and consultants are now included in short-term contract-based work platforms.
According to a research from the JPMorgan Chase Institute, over 4 in 100 adults have earned gig economy income at some point.
A new society model that promotes equality
Even though the gig economy remains small, it has proven to create a win-win relationship between the providers and the recipients, of either goods or services.
Then why do people turn to this short-term engagement based system? There are a few obvious reasons.
First, working under a strict hierarchy and unpleasant bosses can be stressful. Abuse in such corporates is not rare, but the cost of switching jobs can be too high to risk hoping for a better life. In such situations, you have very little control over what you earn and cannot choose both your schedule and your tasks. Having a stable career is also time-consuming as you try to climb the ladder, which leaves little time for your family or to enjoy the freedom everyone is entitled to.
The gig economy has proven to improve the providers’ incomes, expand consumer choice, and give more people the opportunity to be their own bosses, even when it is only a second job or temporary thing. The freedom that comes with the outsourcing economy gives you the freedom to choose who to work with and when, while dividing your income streams and diversifying its sources, which basically means you are less likely to lose all your income at once.
In a nutshell, the gig economy will improve equality by creating an alternative to vertical management hierarchies with horizontal webs of contracts among equals. It is hard to predict whether it will improve the income gap but it will definitely create an easier access status equality. Whether a society embraces this new trend comes down to the notion of what fair economy should be and how much the job security is valued. But in the end, independence and status equality is what will make our society grow.