You heard it here first — the Gig economy future is a bright one! By 2027, a projected 86.5 million people will be freelancing in the United States alone – that’s more than half of the entire US workforce!
Is this a good thing for employees and employers? And how does the future of the Gig economy pan out for growing businesses? We’ve got the lowdown.
This article is part of our guide on the Gig Economy.
What are the benefits of a Gig economy future that overtakes traditional working norms?
So, it looks like we’re soon to have more freelancers than traditional employees. What will that look like?
The gig economy is all about moving from the 9-5 employment model, and being able to pick up and put down niche, skilled talent who are able to fill short-term needs. From an Uber driver who can take you from home to the big board meeting, to a graphic designer who can come onboard for 3 months to build you a banging website, we’re excited about the growing shift towards more flexible working models.
For employees, the options are wide open for leveraging different kinds of roles within the Gig economy, and freelancers are here for it! Individuals can work for an agency where various Gigs are found for them, or they can create relationships with businesses directly, either through an intermediary platform, or through their own networking and referrals. Independent contractors can consult exclusively for a few months at a time, or juggle multiple client relationships throughout their working week. Some Gig workers even hold full-time day jobs, and then complete Gigs in the evening to pick up some extra cash.
In the majority of cases, Gig workers and other kinds of independent contractors will choose how much they get paid, where they work, and whether to say yes or no to the next task or project. In short – flexibility and choice has never been more achievable for today’s workforce.
However, it’s not just a worker’s world – the benefits are also huge for today’s employers. Think about:
- A larger talent pool: The competition for in-house talent is fierce, where you have a simple equation of one role held by one candidate. (How old fashioned, eh?) The Gig economy changes all that, allowing multiple businesses to benefit from the same worker, who can complete their area of expertise for seemingly limitless clients over time.
- More targeted and honed skills: Freelancers are highly skilled in specific areas, far more so than your average full-time employee who usually gets pulled in multiple directions. An independent contractor can also be a strategic consultant, giving advice on how to do a project successfully, as well as working on the job itself.
- Better control over budget: Don’t pay for full time staff when you really only need a certain number of hours or specific tasks completed. Get greater visibility over how long tasks take, and the various costs of outsourcing different projects across departments.
- A wider range of abilities: Consider the way you hire a plumber when the sink is blocked, but you don’t need one hanging around the office all day long just in case. Gig workers and freelancers mean you can pull in the right talent when you need it, only paying for the task that’s in high demand right now.
What can employers expect from the Gig economy future?
Let’s look at three Gig economy future predictions that can help businesses to see where the market is going.
- A shift to more skilled positions
While traditionally the majority of Gig workers were in the transportation industry, this is quickly changing. Today, there are so many kinds of Gig workers – from industries like healthcare and education, to hospitality and business services. Many professional freelancers also come under this category of Gig worker, picking up short-term jobs and providing the supply for growing demand.
- Gig workers and contractors benefiting from more control
Just 10% of independent contractors say they are working independently because they can’t find a traditional job. The remaining 90% are freelancing by choice. The same study showed that the average monthly income can be much higher for non-employees. While many government processes are set up to “protect” contractors – most of them may not need this protection, and have embraced non-traditional working for better control, higher incomes, and true work/life balance.
- The creation of a thriving, remote workforce
The business services side of the Gig economy is perfectly placed to benefit from the post-pandemic remote working boom. Harvard Business School reports that COVID-19 has created a surge in the high skills’ freelance economy. “Our research showed that many leadership teams have not yet fully grasped the strategic significance of these talent platforms. They are more than a stopgap, they are a means for resolving the chronic problems companies face while filling their talent needs. Business leaders cannot risk missing a critical opportunity to build a more flexible, resilient organization,” said Joseph Fuller, professor of management practice and a co-chair of the Project on Managing the Future of Work at HBS. We couldn’t agree more!
The necessary mindset shift for today’s employers
Employers have a lot to gain from a future driven by the Gig economy, but there’s no doubt it might take some getting used to. After all, organizations are often used to a traditional 40-hour work week, and to controlling specific details such as how employees use their time, and even where they work or how they dress!
Some of these facets have been changing for some time, for example the rise in remote work – already accelerating long before the COVID-19 pandemic. The percentage of the British workforce that work from home had jumped by 80% in the 20 years prior to 2020. Telecommuting in the US increased 115% between 2005 and 2015. Today, workforces that dictate what employees wear are seen as old-fashioned, or assumed to be in uniform-wearing industries, where once “casual Fridays” were seen as progressive and the sign of a flexible working environment. The times? They are well and truly a’changing.Final word? Businesses that can adopt a more agile mindset around working norms, and start building out their own talent cloud of freelance skills and relationships will be best placed to benefit the most.