The Gig Economy
The Gig Economy
Post written by Paragon Interiors   April 30, 2019

Does a gig byte? Is it a night of whining guitars and drum bashing maniacs or an evening of Joni Mitchell-esque lamentations with a bottle of wine and a box of tissues? None of the above

There’s a whole new generation making a living from their gigs and music is not the defining connection!

Described by Amanda Arumugam, senior associate at Bowmans, as “a labour market characterised by freelance, flexible, on-demand work rather than the more traditional nine to five model”, we learn that 15.6% of the UK workforce and 34% of the US workforce are gig economy participants.1

It’s flourishing for four primary reasons:

  • Businesses can save costs by hiring people for specific projects or assignments for a predetermined period.
  • To supplement household income or student fees in the face of rising costs.
  • People cannot find suitable employment in the traditional labour market.
  • Despite the risk, some people prefer the flexibility and freedom it offers.

Companies that have specific tasks which need to be executed will assign the task to an individual/s who will come in (or not) on a needs basis to do the job. The saving on office space, salaries and employee benefits contributions makes it a particularly attractive option. By tapping into the gig economy, a small business owner can sit in his/her designated office space (one source described it as a ‘cockpit’), identify and outsource jobs and manage the business digitally.

The Harvard Business Review² references a McKinsey report which found that “knowledge-intensive industries and creative occupations are the largest and fastest growing segments of the freelance economy.” This means that individuals in the gig community must stay on top of their information and skills game in order to be cherry-picked and companies get to choose top talent to help drive innovation and quality of output. Conversely, the top talent gets to cherry-pick their projects!

With an evolving labour landscape in which many young employees choose to move on after five years, the gig economy offers a pool of talented and skilled people willing to work on a project basis and fill the gap/s created by a more transient workforce.

However, does the gig economy empower entrepreneurs or exploit workers?

A key point of difference between the gig economy and more traditional contract work is that giggers have the flexibility of choice – they get to work from wherever they like, whenever they like and for whomever they like. But, at what cost to themselves?

In most countries, only permanently appointed employees get to enjoy the protection and benefits of employment legislation. When the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practice² was undertaken in the UK (July 2017), it highlighted “the widespread deprivation of employment rights in the gig economy” because the only recourse for them lies in their service contracts. This was tested recently when the employment status of uber drivers came under scrutiny and blurred the lines between employees and giggers. The question is, has legislation been keeping pace with modern business models? Interestingly, the Review recommended that some benefits and wage protection for the gigging community should be considered for government legislative review.

If giggers face a multitude of personal, social and financial anxieties that require pushing through without the cover and support of a traditional job, why do they choose the precarious existence and how do they manage the risk? Apparently, they prize their independence over security and despite their unpredictable schedules and finances, they believe they lead richer lives because they operate from a place of choice rather than a place of need.

Two key words from giggers that came up consistently were ‘engagement’ and ‘discipline’ because they find that productivity is the best antidote to precariousness. They believe it’s a case of knuckling down and staying focused. To quote Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” (Unlike Homer Simpson who told Bart, “Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now be quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers.”)

The best giggers are fully invested in the process and output of their labour and whilst sustaining productivity is an ongoing struggle, they understand that distress and distractions have the capacity to erode productivity. They survive on four principles:

  • Place: They work from a place that protects them from external distractions and pressures, places in which they can find inspiration and maintain focus.
  • Routine: They have their act together with supports like to-do lists and work schedules correctly balanced with the essentials of sleep, exercise and proper nutrition. The ritual of routine gives them a sense of order and control.
  • Purpose: They look at the bigger picture and take on work that connects them to a broader purpose, they’re motivated by linking personal interests to a need in the world. The sense of knowing they’re doing what they’re meant to do breeds resilience and enables them to decline work that isn’t in alignment with their purpose. Authenticity and confidence in orientation draw specific clients and gives them the freedom to accept jobs on their own terms.
  • People: They make a concerted effort to avoid social isolation by turning to trusted contacts and role models for reassurance and encouragement. They look for supportive collaborators, friends and contacts in similar fields to help them push through challenging times and give them the courage to take the risk their work entails. They see the wisdom in turning their feelings into sources of creativity and growth (think Albert Einstein, “creativity is intelligence having fun”), seeing themselves as pioneers and allowing uncertainty and discomfort to become affirming rather than a reason to give up. That takes guts!

With unemployment statistics in South Africa standing at around 27.7%, the gig economy is poised to provide solutions to unemployment providing one has access to the resources required to participate. We believe it’s worth investigating regardless of the size of the business because offered and managed correctly, it has the potential for a win-win outcome.

Keen to join the gig economy and find your niche? Register with Nomadnow – a web-based platform powered by Paton Personnel’s networks. This innovative recruitment platform invites the registration of businesses looking for giggers and giggers looking for work. Just register and let the algorithms do the matching. (www.nomadnow.co)

Welcome to the latest independent income-generating gig launching pad!