With lawmakers scrambling to catch up to the rate of growth in the gig economy, it’s becoming ever more evident that the changes are here to stay. While politicians debate topics like its impact on the economy and the treatment of workers, gig economy work is growing faster than traditional full-time employment; the latest estimates place it at 34% of the U.S. workforce.
This type of seasonal, sporadic work is nothing new. Contractors have always been a part of the economy. Factory workers moved from employment to employment depending on seasonal availability. But the difference is that more than ever before, the available jobs span across a very wide spectrum of industries, partly due to post-recession employers looking to reduce spending by as much as 30%, but also due to individual choice.
Although there are different types of gig economy workers, here are some reasons why the gig economy is an increasingly attractive option even for those who aren’t turning to it out of necessity.
When people talk about the gig economy, flexibility is often the most frequently mentioned factor. The idea that you get to be the own boss of your schedule is universally appealing for anyone wishing to escape the 9-to-5 grind and managers looking over your shoulders.
However, this flexibility is an attractive advantage for a larger group of people that includes retirees, homemakers, students, and artists or others with an irregular job. The ability to set your schedule around your life rather than the other way around is priceless when you have school pickup times to worry about, or other commitments that prevent you from working normal hours.
Increasingly, flexibility is becoming a non-negotiable requirement even for those seeking full-time employment. From Netflix’s revolutionary work culture that values results and not how many hours you work, to remote companies that don’t have offices, the gig economy’s primary appeal is proving to be a pervasive change for how we work in general.
The idea that you are rewarded based on your merit rather than an arbitrary rule is also relevant in the gig economy, where workers can set rates based on the quality of their work or their previous ratings from customers. Though not all platforms work this way, even those where companies set rates based on time or distance offer a more even playing field than traditional places of employment.
Since there’s no real process of promotion or hierarchy, everyone works under the same conditions and gets paid based on how well they work. For examples, drivers who come prepared with the best ways to navigate through traffic can take more trips in an hour than a driver who’s less well-prepared.
Though it’s far from a perfect system, part of the gig economy’s appeal is its entrepreneurial nature. For people who thrive on maximizing personal productivity, taking charge of your own work in this way is far more fulfilling than a company culture where people are expected to put in a certain number of hours for a salary, which is a system that punishes the most productive.
There’s freedom from the 9-to-5 job, but the best kind of freedom is freedom from work you don’t enjoy or care about. This is perhaps the biggest reason why the number of gig economy workers who are in it by choice has increased 10 points in two years.
Some of the gig economy’s best platforms are enablers that make it easy for entrepreneurs to take their passion and turn it into a viable business. Whether you’re selling baked goods on Amazon or custom-made jewelry on Etsy, the gig economy provides a shortcut for those looking to pursue their dreams.
When combined with the factors above, it’s easy to see what’s so appealing about the gig economy. Once you can figure out a way to make a living doing what you love on your own schedule, based on the quality of goods or services you provide rather than a set number of hours you put in, it’s hard to make the case for going back to the office.