The ‘’Gig Economy’’ is something anyone under the age of 35 has had some form of experience with, and even those older. The term “gig” describes the working conditions in the gig economy, because as gig workers, employees often only have a short paid “gig” or job to do. The target group of the gig economy are freelancers, freelancers and mini-jobbers. The gig economy is the part of the labor market that mediates small, short-term jobs to freelancers or mini-jobbers using an online platform.
It is characteristic that the contractors bring along other work utensils in addition to their labor, such as their own bike and cell phone at the bicycle courier, or the car and cell phone when transporting people with the American service company Uber. Gig jobs relate to specific fields of work and activities: These include delivery services such as Deliveroo or Foodora, the hospitality industry such as Airbnb and passenger transport such as Uber in the USA. In principle, it is possible to offer and work gig jobs in any industry.
All you need is your own work materials, such as a courier driver's bike, and Internet access to be able to do a gig job. Designers, editors and copywriters are also typical gig workers. The term gig working is used when people can earn their entire living from such activities. As much as 36% of persons in the United States have or do work in the gig economy, and the trend looks set to repeat in Europe, especially in the wake of the Corona Crisis.
As with any new and bright idea, we have also seen a wave of companies wanting to exploit gig economy workers - whom already bear the burden of not having the security of permanent contracts - and that is something all freelancers can be encouraged to watch for and also, a common ‘’fake freelance’’ problem the authorities are determined to tackle here in Germany. Despite the traps of capitalistic tyranny, we must be ever mindful of, it is incredibly important
The Harvard Business Review performed a study on gig economy workers. In many ways, it highlights the pressures of the precarious environment and in other ways, it highlights the unprecedented independence that can be achieved. Independence aligns with our sense of freedom, and our sense of freedom can be defined by things like our ability to live out our values and beliefs.
Can the gig economy be seen as something progressive that guarantees workers autonomy and freedom or does it run the risk of ending up in progressive precarization? Freedom also goes hand in hand with a certain degree of insecurity, which means for the freedom to be able to choose assignments freely, we have to forfeit the security that provides us with financial security in the event of illness or provides for our old age. One participant in the study had an interesting insight into the impact of working in the gig economy on her personal values, she states:
‘‘I want to see a world where leaders know how to and demonstrate their ability to connect, engage, and inspire those around them.’’ That purpose, she explained, served as ‘‘a barometer for work that I say yes to and work that I say no to. I’ve turned several gigs away because they did not line up.’’ In a previous stint as an independent worker, she recalled, ‘‘I had work when I wanted it and needed it. But it wasn’t satisfying because I was just taking work that came to me.’’ This time, she said—using a phrasing that tied self, life, and work—she had a purpose that ‘‘I will organize myself and my work and my life around’’.
Ultimately, the HBR came to the following conclusion:
‘’Our conclusion is that people in the gig economy must pursue a different kind of success — one that comes from finding a balance between predictability and possibility, between viability (the promise of continued work) and vitality (feeling present, authentic, and alive in one’s work). Those we interviewed do so by building holding environments around place, routines, purpose, and people, which help them sustain productivity, endure their anxieties, and even turn those feelings into sources of creativity and growth. “There’s a sense of confidence that comes from a career as a self-employed person,” one consultant told us. “You can feel that no matter how bad it gets, I can overcome this. I can change it. I can operate more from a place of choice as opposed to a place of need.”
So while we can keep the important negatives in mind and hope governments worldwide start making broad legislative changes to protect workers (like, how it should be illegal to be paid late like a normal employee-employer relationship), let’s explore some of the benefits of the gig economy, as it certainly looks apart of our future.