When you think of the gig economy, you might picture an UberEats rider or an AirTasker dog walker. But the gig economy is much more widespread than this.
What is the gig economy?
The gig economy is an umbrella term used to define the shift from traditional 9-5 fixed, permanent roles to more flexible contract, project, temporary, or freelance work. Several factors have contributed to the growth of the gig economy, including:
Changes in technology: Advances in machinery and technology have made it easier for workers to be equipped with the right technology to be able to work remotely and on-demand.
Workforce digitisation: The last few years has seen an increase in the jobs performed strictly online. Traditional pillars like administration, finance, and marketing are now moving online, reducing the need for a presence in the office.
Demand for flexibility: Millennials and younger workers are increasingly demanding more flexibility from their careers, as they put less emphasis on traditional career trajectories and focus more on skill and experience diversification.
Tighter budgets: Another factor in the rise of the gig economy is the increase in financial pressures on small businesses and start-ups. With fewer resources, tighter budgets, and an unwillingness to take on the potential risk of a long-term permanent employee, SMEs are turning to contractors to fulfil their skills shortages.
Specialisation of skills: Employee's professional skills used to be more broad and generic than they are today. As skills become more niche, businesses are needing to access a greater diversity of skills than ever before. And because it's not financially sustainable to hire a new person each time a new skill is required, the gig economy provides the perfect solution.
Is the gig economy here to stay ?
Working in the gig economy provides flexibility, independence and autonomy, a drawcard that is only becoming more popular as the younger generations enter the workforce.
There is no doubt that permanent work is still an integral part of the workforce, providing stability, security and key relationship building that the gig economy can't offer.
But with 15% of the Australian workforce already participating in the gig economy, it's popularity could see it quickly supersede the more traditional work environments.