The Perks of the Gig Economy

Woman working remotely on laptop. Businesswoman working from home during pandemic.

Side hustles, part-time work, and contract jobs can help boost organizations and employees alike

Dwanét Perry lost her job in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While it was jarring at first, she used this opportunity to dive into something creative and reinvent herself and started teaching herself how to make candles through YouTube and Instagram videos.

Today, she works as a registration specialist for a car dealership and continues making and selling candles at night through her online store Flame N Mama. Perry, who also delivers for DoorDash, was highlighted by the New York Times as one example of someone who found newfound flexibility, income, and creative freedom through roles like side gigs, contract jobs, and part-time flexible work.

Having part-time, temporary, or seasonal work is not new, but the explosion of online platforms providing on-demand opportunities has really opened this sector up for employers and employees looking to fill this line of work. The changing nature of work and job loss from the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the uptick in the gig economy. A recent Pew Research survey found that 16% of Americans say they’ve earned money from an online gig platform like Uber or DoorDash, with more than half of those doing so to earn extra money.

The gig economy, like any type of labor, isn’t without challenges. However, the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks for those who choose to incorporate these opportunities into their work-life strategy. There is a wide variety of roles in this line of work, such as driving on demand, providing IT support, freelance writing, and much more.

Curious about the experience of working in the gig economy? Here are a few of the major benefits of opting for this type of work.

Freedom and Flexibility

Want to choose your own work schedule? The gig economy can do that for you. A 2021 research paper from Harvard Business School titled “Being the Boss: Gig Workers’ Value of Flexible Work” found that “the vast majority of drivers place significant value on flexibility.”

For many gig economy workers, autonomy is the name of the game by allowing them to choose their own projects and hours and giving back control over the amount of work and type of work to be completed. They can also swap employers––or even go back and forth between employers on the same day––at a moment’s notice.

Providing autonomy to set your own schedule can encourage workers to take more frequent breaks when it’s convenient for them. This can help workers recharge and be their most productive, rather than avoiding taking time off in a traditional job due to an inflexible work schedule and constant work demands.

In a recent SHRM article about encouraging employees to unplug during PTO, David Farkas, CEO of the Upper Ranks, suggests that “a half-day’s break in the midst of the week may do wonders for their energy levels.”

Extra income 

Workers in the gig economy often take extra jobs on top of full-time, permanent, or contingent work for extra income, and the majority of them see their earning potential in positive terms. Among those who’ve found work from online platforms, majorities say they are at least somewhat satisfied with the number of jobs available to them, and how quickly they can find jobs. and the amount of money they’ve earned over the past 12 months, according to Pew Research.

For organizations contracting with gig employee workers, there are also cost savings involved. Freelance and contractors often eliminate the need for companies to create a permanent space for them since they’re only working for a specified amount of time and often with their own space or tools. In addition, companies have more flexibility to scale up or down based on business conditions, which helps control labor costs.

Opportunities to Upskill

Freelance and contract workers have the flexibility to dive deeper into new industries or skills. It’s up to the worker, not the company, to decide how to advance knowledge, so the worker can dedicate as much time and energy to upskilling as he/she wants. Contrary to contract workers’ fear of becoming too heavily skilled in one industry, expertise in one area is transferrable to other industries. Depending on the challenges that arise during each freelance job, it’s an opportunity to learn new skills in functional areas.

Contract workers can often take on a few projects for several companies at once – time permitting – which diversifies their portfolio, increases their exposure to clients, and broadens their skill sets. Working on a variety of projects for different organizations often helps shape their career path.

If they are only temporarily working contract roles with the intent to later land a permanent or contingent role at a single company, contract work is a convenient way to try out a company with no strings attached before committing to a full-time role. The same benefit extends to the employer.

Working with Addison Group to find talent

Addison Group, recently named one of the largest US staffing firms in 2022 by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), places permanent, contract, and contract-to-hire candidates in a variety of industries. Let us help you find your next great hire!

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