Thought Leadership

The Rise of the Gig Worker

The second half of the 2010s won’t just be known for the latest trilogy of Star Wars (#HanShotFirst #ItsAlwaysATrap #BBGr8) but also the explosion of the gig economy in our everyday lives.

10 years ago, not many people could’ve even told you what the gig economy was. Nowadays however, the vast majority of us will have been driven in an Uber or Bolt, had a takeaway delivered by Postmates or Deliveroo, or gone on holiday and stayed in an Airbnb.

This trend has been a huge divergence from the more traditional ways of working that have been the norm for so many years. With more and more organisations leveraging the gig model, it looks like gig is here to stay – so why is this change happening?

Easy access to technology

Much like how planet-killing star ships represented a seismic shift in the battle between the Empire and the Rebels – new and improved technology is a key reason why the typical 9-5 job is no longer the only employment alternative out there. Internet penetration, for example, is now up to 58.4% globally (up from 29% in 2010) with Europe and North America averaging 88.5%. This growth in access to the Internet has meant that working remotely is easier than ever – so people are no longer bound to an office.

Another big development has been the advancement in smartphones. This has led to people being able to stay in contact much better wherever they are, whilst also always having information at their fingertips. With more advanced smartphones, there has been a proliferation of advanced apps allowing everyday people to do more than they ever could before. Good examples of this include map/navigation apps allowing drivers to know where they’re going and specific company apps allowing you to contact a customer without the need to get their personal data directly.

Now workers are able to always be connected, work remotely with the help of minimal tools like a laptop or mobile phone, and have work routed to them through free apps that organisations create. This advancement in technology has enabled the creation of flexible working schedules driven by the changing demands of the everyday person. Which brings us onto…

Millennials and Gen Z and their changing Needs

Darth Vader and Kylo Ren aren’t the only people whose motivations and desires went on to change over time. Today’s young adults have radically different priorities from their parents’ generation. For example, a research by Marketing Week in 2019 found out that Millennials and Gen Z who are in control of their finances are 43% happier and 60% surveyed chose ‘financial independence’ and ‘ability to become a decision-maker’ as a priority over personal life goals like getting married, having kids and buying a house. We also go into this more in our ‘Gig Customer Service Report‘.

With living costs and childcare expenses on the rise, families today find it hard to subsist on a single income. Add to this retirement ages being later than they used to be (and retirement not covering the cost of living for many anyway), more people doing full or part-time education beyond the compulsory age, and people wanting to work multiple jobs – the demand for a job (or a second job) where you can earn cash on the hours you dictate, in the location you choose, is higher than ever.

The need for flexibility is the key to what gives gig the edge. What gig allows you to do is to continue to earn money even if the typical 9-5 or shift structure doesn’t really work for you. Gig workers can often rack up several hours throughout the day – but they don’t need to be all in one block. This allows them to handle their other responsibilities as and when they need to without giving up on their income. Alternatively, it allows you to earn extra cash in addition to your standard income in your spare time – like a long train commute.

What’s good for the environment is good for us

Most of us don’t want the Earth to resemble the outer-rim planet Mustafar (even if you do have the high ground) in the future, so being environmentally friendly is more important than ever. Hundreds of big cities around the world draw to a complete stop every morning, and every night throughout the year as millions of commuters rush to get to their destination. These stationary vehicles are pumping out huge amounts of greenhouse gasses that are severely affecting the world we live in.

Skipping this commute and the environmental consequences that come with it is a big draw to a lot of people. This is validated by the Marketing Week survey where 90% of Millennials and Gen Z respondents expressed a wish for being more tolerant, diverse and connected to the planet. Even those gig workers who like to work in a shared workspace (a great way of maintaining the social interactions you can miss out on by working from home regularly) have the freedom to go in at times which avoid the peak busy times.

Pocket Money

Finally, regardless of what the Jedi will tell you about wanting more being the path to the dark side – having a few extra coins in your pocket each month is a great thing when you’re eyeing up whether you can afford to buy yourself a cheeky caramel latte. We all like to treat ourselves and our loved ones but life is becoming increasingly more expensive for a lot of people – the cost of living is increasing at a faster rate than many people’s incomes.

Gigging allows people with full or part-time roles to gain a second income stream to supplement what they are already earning, and those not currently working to earn when they previously wouldn’t be. This allows many people to bite their nails a little less when the bills come in at the end of the month, and perhaps also get those extra little treats that can help make you or your loved ones’ day.

We believe very strongly in the advantages of gigging at Limitless (What is GigCX?). In fact, the brilliant benefits it can deliver for businesses through improved customer service and for gig workers through providing flexible earning opportunities is the main reason we started out! Read more about how we came about here.

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