The Uber Game
Can you make it in the gig economy?
Can you make it in the gig economy?
If you work in the gig economy, you have no idea what’s going on in your employer. You’re not even an employee in the meaning of the law. This does feel like something that could afflict people in the gig economy in a unique way because it’s going to hit them by surprise.
While it might seem that long-established ways of working are being disrupted, history shows us that the one person, one career model is a relatively recent phenomenon. Prior to industrialisation in the 19th Century, most people worked multiple jobs to piece together a living.
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The promises Silicon Valley makes about the gig economy can sound appealing. Its digital technology lets workers become entrepreneurs, we are told, freed from the drudgery of 9-to-5 jobs.
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At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system.
I believe that the gig economy, at least as currently conceived, is a transitional phenomenon that will evolve into something much more enduring, but quite different from the current model.
What follows is a selection of experiences from this growing group of permatemps: an Italian oncologist who spent almost as much time trying to find her next three-month contract as she did helping cancer patients; a French human-resources expert grappling with the psychological toll of temporary work; and, among others, a German tourism specialist who gave up his passion for a stable job in an unrelated field.
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Increasingly, both companies and workers prefer and choose the gig economy’s more flexible and independent work arrangements and, in the process, are transforming how, where, and when we work.
As the US economy has improved—with six years of unbroken job growth and even an uptick in wages—a greater share of those gig participants are finding better jobs. So they’ve stopped or cut down on their Uber and related gig work.
As the jobs-based economy gives way to the gig economy, winners and losers are determined by the type of worker you are — or can become.
A new study from McKinsey finds voluntary independent workers are happier than those in traditional jobs.
Although Stats Canada reports that self-employed workers consistently earn more than “standard” workers, freelancing is widely dismissed as being one step away from unemployment and destitution.
Reshaping the gig economy cannot only come from on high – there has to be some innovativion from within business and broader society. There are some welcome stirrings, but without a reshaped system, along with more energy and leadership to capitalise on the change of mood, expect little to change.
These stats tell the story of the freelance market.
Wouldn’t it be great to ditch the micro-managing boss, take on exciting new projects whenever you want, and work the hours that suit you? Well, thanks to the rise of on-demand talent marketplaces, the so-called “gig economy” is fast becoming a reality.
What this may mean is that the growth of the gig economy, at least the growth measured by Katz and Krueger, is being driven not so much by struggling millennials lining up gigs online as by 60-year-olds working as independent contractors.