Work in 2022
During several discussions with fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs during the last few months I have touched upon the theme of the gig economy.
If you read the stories of Uber drivers and Foodora bikers you are inclined to think that the gig-economy is all a big scam. A way to easily take advantage of people that have no other way to work maybe because they lack formal education, they lack connections or simply need to provide for their families or their own subsistence and have no other way to do that other than working for low paying jobs.
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We are now used to have luxury at a very low price and to some extend we even pretend to have luxury at a very low price. People in need have always been abused and technology has only made it more convenient and easier and as a plus has decoupled the employer and the employee removing also the human connection and empathy that was eventually left in an employer-employee relationship, almost dehumanizing the interaction.
I rarely use Uber but I was in a Uber some time ago and I was almost feeling guilty and dirty for being in there. Obviously the driver was being compensated but was that a fair exchange? Was he doing it because he had to or because he wanted to? Could he pay for the loan of his car, gas, tear and wear and still make some profit? I am not sure, I didn’t have the guts to ask and will remain with this doubt.
Even when we are not driving a Uber car few are so lucky to be doing a job that they love to do: maybe we hate our boss, or find our job dull and useless, or we are dreaming of a vacation every day we wake up, or we need to work long hours and can’t spend time with their families. But still we keep our job because the majority of us is risk averse and we prefer to hang onto what we have than venture in unknown waters.
There is though some of us that have taken the plunge and have become entrepreneurs or freelancers. Putting their experience on the table and trying their best to live on that.
I am one of those.
And I also live in a gig economy. It’s a different gig economy but it still is such. My projects can last six months or five days and I am my marketing, my sales and my delivery department.
It’s good for me because I can choose what projects to work on, I don’t get bored, my time is allocated more efficiently and it’s good for my clients because they get better value for their money than if they used a consultancy firm and easier hiring process than if they hired an internal CxO/Senior Director and on top of that I get out of the way as soon as my work is done.
Work in 2022: a tale of two gig economies
A report by PwC highlights that “46% of HR professionals expect that at least 20% of their workforce will made up of contractors or temporary workers by 2022”. I think that part of that 20% will be highly skilled professionals for two reasons: 1) those with skills in high demand will realize that it’s more fun and profitable to be self-employed 2) companies will be competing for the same talent and only few will be attractive enough to hire it.
So there is going to to be two gig economies: one for low skilled labor and one for high skilled labor. The first one is already upon us and I am starting to see the first signs of the second kind appearing. I believe it will be a bigger phenomenon in the next 5 to 10 years.
Freelancing is not for everyone and there will be still be a large amount of people that favors job security over flexibility: the same PwC reports that the most important thing in a job for 44% of people around the world is job security. So “traditional employment” is probably still going to be the majority.
With the increasing amount of technology that pervades our work we will see new ways of organizing companies that will not only require more flexibility but will even demand it. This is just the beginning of the future of work.