If you’re a freelancer, contractor or consultant, you’ve likely heard of the “gig economy.” Not only have you heard of it; you’re an integral part of it. If, on the other hand, you’re a full-time staffer—with benefits and a pension—in a large corporation, you may have no idea what the gig economy is. If the latter is you, I’d suggest it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the term sooner rather than later.
Between 20 and 30 per cent of Canadians are part of the gig economy, a system in which employers opt to contract out short-term work projects to independent contractors rather than hire people on as full-time, permanent staff. And that number is projected to explode in the coming years, as employers become increasingly reluctant to commit resources such as rich benefits packages and pensions to full-time staff.
Yes, the gig economy is primarily driven by employers’ desires for efficiency. And yes, in many ways it may be alarming to imagine the almost complete lack of perceived job security that accompanies this shift. While a skilled professional, who’s been unhappily tied to a desk in a cubicle for 25 years and suddenly finds themselves out of work, may jump at the freedom of contract work, someone just starting a career may yearn for the stability and earning potential of a steady job. Whether it sounds liberating or terrifying, now is the time to prepare as much as we can for the accelerated reduction of traditional, full-time jobs.
How can we ready ourselves for this massive change?
The biggest hurdle is most likely a shift in our attitudes toward work and employment, so that rather than waiting for the system to HAPPEN TO US, we instead proactively choose to enter that system.
What’s good about the gig economy?
- Freedom of choice. As an independent contractor, you select only the projects that interest you and the companies for which you’d like to work.
- Working from home. For many, eliminating the stress and costs of a daily commute is a huge plus about freelancing.
- Opportunity. In many cases, there are more short-term, part-time and contract jobs available at any given time than there are plum, full-time permanent positions.
- Balance. You dictate exactly how much you want to work, and when. Establishing a 25-hour workweek, for example, is much easier when you’re your own boss.
This all sounds pretty great, right? “But what about security?” your practical side screams. And yes, your practical side has a point. But remember that the supposed “security” offered by an employer can evaporate overnight when profits are down and belts must be tightened. Knowing that, might directing your own path and creating your own security actually be preferable in the end?
With a solid understanding of what we have to offer, a flexible attitude toward work and the ability to create opportunity—and yes, patience and hard work—we can succeed in the gig economy.
For help solidifying your brand, tips on how to access opportunities and more resources to help you prepare for the gig economy, reach out to me any time.