For years, the traditional working environment has remained the same. Employees tend to spend the majority of their time at their company’s location, and carrying out the daily tasks that they are assigned.
These tasks can often become repetitive and mundane. Long-term work isn't for everybody, and more and more people are jumping from one gig to the next, seeking variety and new challenges along the way.
In today’s tech-driven world, there is a revolution taking place. The number of people joining the gig economy is increasing, and more people believe that working for themselves is the way forward.
In all honesty, they can’t be blamed. The potential benefits are plentiful. From setting your work hours exactly as you want them, deciding exactly what you work on, and if you work from home, doing exactly that in whichever clothes you want to throw on in the morning.
Of course, with all things which are too good to be true, there are a number of things to consider. Perhaps, lacking a guaranteed paycheck could be too much for some to handle. Without a boss looking over their shoulders, some might struggle to find the motivation to get to work.
Nonetheless, the fact remains, according to a 30% of Fortune 100 CEOs, employee life is set to change “fundamentally” over the span of the next five years.
Welcome to the gig economy. There are pros and cons to explore, so let's explore them.
What drives people to, and from, self-employment?
Despite the classic laptop-on-beach portrayal of the freelance lifestyle, it might not always be as swell. An office job offers the security of regular work. However, those who populate the gig economy are responsible for sourcing their own work, and ensuring that they forge relationships with solid clients who pay them fairly.
If successful, the rewards are many. Dictating exactly the kind of work you want to spend your time on is an extremely tempting affair. If you want to write about science, you can. Fancy helping people with web design? You can teach yourself the basics and put work in to finding a reliable client.
It is the possibility to reinvent yourself as anybody which is a huge draw for the gig economy, and something you cannot possibly feel when your boss is dumping piles of paper on your desk each morning.
Should a gig economy worker fail to secure any long-term clients who allow them to make ends meet, the experience can quickly become a painful one. Apart from the obvious issue of a lack of job security, factors such as loneliness can come into play. Going without the camaraderie an office setting fosters could take its toll on some people more than others.
A poll of 4,000 US workers revealed that 48% of those who had been freelancers described it as a “very satisfying” experience. This reveals almost a 50:50 split between freelancers who greatly enjoyed their time in the gig economy, and those who found it more unsettling.
There is, though, a way for the new generation of worker to experience the comforts of an office environment if they would like to. In part, the rise of the gig economy led to a 176% increase in serviced office usage across the UK in 2017. Serviced offices allow businesses and groups of those working independently to rent office space.
Leaving the old office job behind doesn’t necessarily have to mean working in solace forever.
Who is currently working in the gig economy?
A report compiled by Randstad shed more light on the current makeup of gig economy workers in the UK:
- 69% of gig workers are men.
- 28% of the gig economy provides professional work, as opposed to other opportunities like driving or delivery services.
- Almost half (44%) of gig economy workers hold a university degree.
The gig economy is perceived in some quarters to be for people with a low level of education, but these statistics prove that this isn't the case.
Gig work is becoming a more valid option for all kinds of people, and it is rapidly becoming integrated into society. There's certainly no stigma to being self-employed.
The seven key attributes of a gig economy champion
Of course, there isn’t one personality type which would fit the gig economy down to the ground. It takes careful consideration of one’s own attributes to decide whether or not it is the right way to work. However, there are some key characteristics which appear to be common ground for many gig economy workers.
One of the most crucial elements to gig economy life is having the guts to approach clients and charge a fair rate for your services. If you struggle to stomach negotiations or don’t hold the belief that you can complete work to a high standard, this will really hold you back when interacting with potential clients.
2. High quality communication skills
Communication and commitment also go hand-in-hand with a happy client. You need to be there for them in their hour of need, and be able to understand their requirements clearly. Do not be afraid to ask questions if requirements are unclear, and definitely describe the work you will do for them before you begin.
Similarly to commitment, having the patience to wait for an opportunity to come around is vital for a freelancer or independent worker. Perhaps you have set up communications with a client but they are not ready to hire you yet - it is so important to have the patience to wait until a client needs your help.
It helps a gig economy worker massively to take initiative for their own work. It is unlikely that potential clients are going to land in your lap. Build strong social media profiles and reach out to as many potential clients as possible.
If your client asks you to perform a task that you aren’t used to performing, really think about whether or not you can do it. Instead of automatically saying no, you could impress them by approaching the new task with a positive attitude and giving it your best shot.
Perhaps your games console is calling you, or your favourite show is about to start on TV. If you are working at home, there are plenty of distractions which will test your ability to stick to your work. Make sure you set aside enough hours to complete your work, and then indulge in your favourite series.
What self-employed work can you get stuck into?
From the outside, it might appear as if scope for diversity is rather limited in the gig economy world. Everyone appears to be writing articles or blogs.
But the truth is that there is a huge range of freelance jobs waiting for you. Some, like digital marketing and web design, take real experience and a specialised set of skills. You can also try your hand at hospitality work, or delivery jobs.
There is no harm in taking inspiration from others. Aim here to read about 16 freelancers who discovered their niche via the gig economy.
Photo by Lee Campbell on Unsplash.