The evolution of the gig economy is “probably as big as the industrial revolution” in terms of how it changes the landscape of traditional working conditions and environments, a key speaker at the 2017 RCSA conference in Fiji told attendees.
Marina Pullin, Managing Director at MCBI, a business improvement, resourcing and project delivery organisation, was emphatic that the gig economy – where staff are employed on an as-needs basis– was only going to get bigger.
And staff, recruitment and employment organisations who ignore it, do so at the own peril.
Marina offered the following definition of the gig economy: “A labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs”.
She explained that both the workforce and workplace were in perpetual states of change with the gig economy just one of the latest iterations of this.
Outsourcing and technological developments have supported the development of the gig economy and facilitated organisations to move some tasks out from under their own roof.
At the same time, staff are choosing jobs which offer them flexible working arrangements, including the ability to work remotely or part-time.
Marina said recent data indicated that almost one-third of US employees are currently in “contingent” arrangements such as being employed by temp firms, in part-time positions or as day labourers. This is expected to increase to 40% of the US workforce by 2020.
Without realising it, many of us are already trading in the gig economy through online platforms and apps including Airtasker, Airbnb, Upwork and Uber.
And as with all major changes in the structure of the workplace, some will thrive in a gig economy while others will struggle.
“For people who are competitive, and I put up my hand and say I like competition, the volatile nature of the gig economy suits someone like me,” Marina explained. “I think it helps people like me to flourish.
“However, not everyone is competitive and not everyone likes pushing themselves. Some people find it really traumatic and at different stages of your life, you don’t want to be pushing yourself to the edge all the time.”
Marina said the emergence of the gig economy was helping to drive efficiencies and cost savings while offering freelancers and contract workers scope to be the best professional versions of themselves.