Adapting to the Gig Economy: The Changing Nature of Employment

Just forty or so years ago, there was an expectation that a person could leave school, visit a recruitment center (such as the headhunter company here), and gain a qualification—be it a degree, vocational qualification, or simply learning through experience—in a set industry, then work in that industry for the next twenty to forty years before retiring. People who ‘job hopped’ were frowned upon, and many people managed to get through their entire working life having had fewer than five employers during that time. The current way of working is very different from this. Let’s take a look at The Evolving Character of Work and How to Adapt to the Gig Economy

The Rise of Zero-Hour Contracts

Business owners realized that profits dipped and rose with the seasons and began to introduce low-hour or zero-hour contracts, which enabled them to only have employees at work during the times they were needed. This is great for productivity but terrible for income security, with employees unable to be sure of earning enough each month to meet their financial needs.

The advent of the Gig Economy

This led to people holding more than one or two of these ‘part-time’ jobs, working a few hours here and a few hours there—and occasionally even a third or fourth income stream was introduced. All of this was with the hope that between the varying income streams, there would be an overall income each month that would meet or exceed needs—and that if one job fell through without notice, they would be able to soldier on until they replaced that particular client. These sorts of jobs include everything from making deliveries (from newspapers to packages to food orders), freelance work, online tutoring, and crafts or pieces of art.

The advent of the gig economy gig economy

It was surprising and freeing.

One unexpected advantage of this way of life was that it put paid to the nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday grind. Sure, gig workers sometimes have to work weekends and occasionally have weeks when the income just isn’t there, no matter how much self-marketing they do, but on the other hand, there are moments when you can down tools and head to the beach to make the most of an unexpected late summer day or a spur of the moment day trip, knowing that you can make up the work hours later on.

Having three or four small jobs turned out to be more fun than a ‘normal’ office job, and they turned out to be quite flexible too. The school run and childcare were suddenly not as much of a problem. Holidays could be properly enjoyed, and should an unexpected bill arise, why just put your hand up for extra hours at one or more places of employment?

It’s Probably Here to Stay

And so popular has the gig economy proven, with people able to make a living doing the things they love, that it is probably here to stay. There will always be traditional positions in some industries: banking is unlikely to become a part-time profession, and home-working is mostly unfeasible! but there is plenty of room for gig workers in employment too, with flexi-freelance-WFH-part-time work enhancing the whole field.