The gig economy is rapidly growing as many companies employ this new business model and workers search not just for employment but for flexibility too. Many are still left wondering what the gig economy entails and whether it’s a positive or a negative force for all those involved. Randstad has conducted research to see how the gig economy is affecting workers and businesses alike.
The gig economy can be defined by the prevalence of short-term contracts and/or freelance work rather than permanent employment. Workers can work ‘gigs’ and set their duration according to their own needs, an alternative to a 9-5, offering increased flexibility. Some see this as a large contributor to low pay, insecurity, and poor working conditions. Still, for many, it presents an opportunity to structure their lives and work as it suits them.
A Randstad poll (August 2018) suggests that 70 per cent of people would prefer the security of being a full-time employee over the flexibility of a gig contract. Amanda Akien, Senior Marketing Manager at Randstad, thinks this is because the gig economy is still fairly new to most.
“Many people are still afraid of the gig economy, mainly as they don’t understand the benefits it can offer. The reality is that 1 in 4 people prefer the flexibility of gig work over the security of being an employee. In today’s world, we welcome flexible ways of working and it’s important for individuals to understand what options are available, and the relevant benefits, so they can make an informed decision about their personal career path.”
The typical gig economy worker is changing too; whilst the number of self-employed workers aged 16 – 24 has doubled since 2001, the number of workers over 65 has nearly tripled since the recession. Self-employed workers now account for 15 per cent of all UK employees.
Akien offers further insight:
“There are many stereotypes surrounding the gig economy so it’s important to unravel some of those myths. Contrary to popular belief, professionals account for the largest proportion of gig workers at 28 per cent. Many of our candidates welcome the flexibility that gig offers, whilst some still seek the security of a permanent role. What’s important is being able to cut through the noise and see the facts. It’s about empowering the workforce so individuals can make career and lifestyle choices that best suit their personal circumstances.
Gig isn’t for everyone but some of the benefits it can bring are often overlooked.”
The gig economy is likely to remain contentious for the foreseeable future, but it is already deeply embedded in the labour economy and affecting how individuals approach work. What remains to be seen is how the issue of worker classification is ultimately resolved, with many closely following Uber’s UK case, which classified its drivers as workers rather than self-employed. For the younger generation, future employment is going to look different than the standard model of 9 to 5 office work, both by demand and design creating a flexible future of work.