The word gig means work that lasts for a specific period of time. The worker is paid on completion of the work and recurring work may or may not be available.
A gig economy is a free market system.
It is a part of the temporary job market.
The word gig was used for musicians back in the old days. Musicians performed on short-term engagements in various places. Each engagement is called a gig.
Gig Economy in the Internet Age
The gig economy has become more popular with the advent of the Internet. Especially when more work has become digital in nature.
The Internet has made it easier for those looking for work to connect with those offering it.
Work acceptance, submission, and payment are all done online.
Examples of such work are writing, graphic design, website design, and even video creation.
Gigs and gig seekers were on the rise during the Covid-19 pandemic when there were movement control orders coupled with companies looking to cut labor costs and folks losing jobs.
Gig Apps and Platforms
Gigs have become more popular and available worldwide through platforms like Fiverr.
There are also mobile gig apps that connect employers with gig workers like Freelancer.
The gig economy is not limited to digital services. They also include physical services like ride-hailing and food delivery.
Food delivery services were much in demand especially when there were restrictions on eating out during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Also worth noting are services like Airbnb where folks let out their houses or rooms to travelers usually at prices lower than hotel rooms.
Benefits of the Gig Economy
For workers, they are able to market their skills and services worldwide. These would include skills that aren’t in high demand in their locations.
Also, gigs allow workers to earn higher amounts of money as usually there are an unlimited number of work opportunities.
Workers also save on traveling time and cost and other expenses related to work such as food and toll charges.
For employers, the benefits are obvious. They can get work done without having to hire full-time staff.
They may also save the cost of hiring local professionals and pay skilled non-professionals affordably.
Cons of the Gig Economy
While gigs allow for work flexibility, workers lose out on some benefits enjoyed by full-time workers.
This would include health insurance, minimum wage, and overtime, among others.
Most gig workers operate from home and this may disrupt the work-life balance and potential friction among family members.
Also, to meet their income targets, workers may take up more work which could lead to stress and burnout.
Income from gig work isn’t consistent and sometimes it could be challenging to meet regular expenses.
The gig economy also to a certain extent disrupts the full-time employment market. It works adversely against those looking to develop full-time careers.