Millennials have been described as the “Me Me Me” generation, prioritising individuality, creativity, and autonomy over belonging to any one group or team. Now in charge of creating the future workforce, employers are scrambling to accommodate this new way of working.
The rise of the ‘gig economy’ has heralded significant shifts in how we will work in the future. While there are pros and cons to this new way of working, one of the major perks is there is no longer any clear distinction between work and play. Employees are encouraged to pursue self-direction and personal fulfilment through their jobs, and employers have to adjust to this new working environment.
The Increasingly Evolving Gig Economy
The gig economy doesn’t discriminate. Whether you’re an independent contractor, a freelancer, or even an employee of a company, if you can provide a service or product that is in demand, you will be able to secure freelance work or job offers.
Freelancing and the gig economy have been around for a while, however, this trend has picked up pace in the past few years. LinkedIn’s 2019 Worker Perceptions Survey found that 42% of respondents were more likely to recommend freelance work, while only 16% were more likely to recommend an employee situation. The survey also found that 29% of respondents would happily engage in freelance work, but felt uncomfortable doing so within their current role, and 13% vice versa.
Freelancing isn’t a new concept. The Huffington Post reports that as early as the 19th century, there were independent contractors who provided services such as writing, editing, and designing to newspapers and other media outlets. These types of workers were known as “hired hands” because they were essentially contract workers who were hired to complete a specific task and then thrown out at the end. While this type of freelance work still occurs today, it is certainly not limited to those who provide writing, editing, and design services.
Why The “Gig Economy” Is Popular
There are a number of reasons why the gig economy is becoming increasingly popular. First, the number of people getting involved in the gig economy is rising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, the “Nonfarm Wage and Salaried Workforce” in May 2020 comprised 4.4 million American workers, including 2.2 million freelancers and contractors. This is a 12% increase from April 2020.
It’s not only that more people are getting involved in the gig economy. According to a September 2019 report from The New York Times, 80% of American workers want to freelance at least occasionally. And among younger generations, that percentage is even higher—90% of millennials want to work independently, according to ZipRecruiter.
One of the significant downsides to having a “9-5 job” is that even when you are done with your day, you still have to go to work. Now that the world has shifted to working remotely and working independently, employers have to adapt to this new way of working as well.
Remote work doesn’t have to be all bad. The New York Times reports that while some employers might struggle to adjust to this new way of working, there are others that are recognizing the flexibility and lower costs that come with it.
The freelance industry is growing at a rate of 12% each year and is projected to grow to $186 billion worldwide by next year. As a freelance writer, you will enjoy the freedom of choosing your own hours and working remotely while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Productivity, or the amount of work that gets done, is also on the rise as a result of the gig economy. According to a June 2019 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Part-time and Freelance Work”, individuals in this group had a 32% higher annual productivity rate than those in traditional full-time employment. This is largely thanks to the flexibility that comes with freelancing and working remotely.
Being able to work remotely means you can work when and where you want, ensuring you get the most out of your productive hours. In addition, a 2017 report from Payscale found that while employees enjoy their job security, they also value their ability to work remotely as a contributing factor to their productivity.
New Opportunities For Women
One of the significant benefits of the gig economy is that it provides new opportunities for women. As previously mentioned, the percentage of American workers who want to freelance is especially high among millennials, whose members are some of the most likely to participate in the gig economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, as of April 2021 48% of the “Nonfarm Wage and Salaried Workforce” in the United States were women.
This trend is not just limited to America. According to a February 2021 report from the International Labour Organization, 59% of freelancers and contractors in the Middle East are women, as compared to 45% of employees in traditional jobs. Women make up 65% of the U.K.’s freelance and temporary work population and are considered a valuable and in-demand part of the workforce. This trend is also seen in Australia—71% of freelancers are women, as compared to 64% in salaried jobs (ABS Statistics).
It’s clear that as the workforce evolves to ensure employers and employees can operate seamlessly, workplaces are experiencing significant changes. While this might be frustrating for those who feel they are not suited to working independently or for multiple employers, the flexibility and opportunity presented by the gig economy is something to celebrate.