For years, the gig economy has been expanding, drawing independents looking for opportunities to earn extra cash. Now the young generations, such as the millennials, are moving into this industry for their careers. Some fully thrust themselves into this economy and piece together a living from short-lived engagements, no matter the motivations for entering the world of freelancing or the level of involvement. One thing remains true: The gig economy is growing at exponential rates.
There are driving and delivery apps along with other options. There are others like cleaning, home repair, moving, yard work, or furniture assembly, where TaskRabbit may be for you. There are creatives able to work on some like Upwork and Fiverr as well. You can promote your expertise, applying for short-term or long-term freelance projects. To succeed on these sites, you will benefit from building out a powerful profile and a portfolio or demo reel of your work.
Finding opportunities in the gig economy is often as simple as downloading an app, signing up, and learning how to work on that platform. It is still important that you find the work that best suits you. If you are interested in working on your own time and having a steady flow of work, driving and delivery apps are likely your best option. If you prefer to work at home or with others in your community as projects come in, freelancing platforms are your best bet. Finding short-term and long-term assignments at small and large businesses in nearly any industry is also possible by using these apps.
But what about those other benefits — the ones you get with traditional employment? For gig contractors, these benefits aren’t always an option, but I believe help is on the way through health insurance, retirement plans, and equity.
With health insurance being tied to employment for the majority of insured Americans, there haven’t been many obvious solutions for workers in the gig economy in the past. Similar to how companies started offering health insurance to compete for talent in the 1940s, we are now seeing businesses that offer access to health benefits for contractors as a benefit.
Modern technology and market innovation are racing to meet the demand by providing simple alternatives, including stand-alone companies using technology and data to better understand and underwrite workers. There are also associations and groups coming together to collectively purchase health insurance, providing volume discounts and more accessibility.
Because some workers rely entirely on freelancing, we need to consider new strategies and possibilities for retiring. With retirement being a concern for many, it makes sense to consider retirement strategies for gig workers. Contracted work has been viewed as a means to supplement traditional retirement savings.
The future of saving for retirement will be powered by technology. Artificial intelligence, for example, could improve the way people save while making saving more accessible. This type of technology is a great start, but there is more to be done. As we continue to see technological advancements and new startups attack retirement issues, I believe we will start to see a combination of technology and people working together to help plan and execute retirement strategies. In my opinion, both will be necessary because multiple generations participate in the gig economy, and their needs will have to be addressed differently.
While stock options and grants are relatively common benefits among the traditionally employed, they have been nonexistent within the gig economy. However, 2019 might see changes that will continue to make the gig economy more competitive to business owners and skilled workers alike. Major players in the gig market, such as Airbnb, Uber, and Postmates, seek to allow contractors the opportunity to become shareholders. This represents another benefit granted to traditional employees that could become nonexclusive in the job market moving forward. This may be good, but in practice, it might be hard to execute and justify. Ultimately, some version of providing ownership opportunities will eventually exist for gig workers. However, it is not yet finalized.
The Bottom Line
The gig economy has been an innovation driven by its necessity in the modern business climate, but it hasn’t come without its challenges and criticism. These challenges are being met with modern solutions. Moving forward, I believe the future looks bright for the “general economy,” thanks to the gig economy using technology to provide greater efficiency for consumers and businesses with more benefits to contract workers.