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gig economy

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. The term "gig" is a slang word meaning "a job for a specified period of time" and is typically used in referring to musicians. Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.

The trend toward a gig economy has begun as a study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors. There are a number of forces behind the rise in short-term jobs. For one thing, in the digital age, the workforce is increasingly mobile and work can increasingly be done from anywhere, so that job and location are decoupled. That means that freelancers can select among temporary jobs and projects around the world, while employers can select the best individuals for specific projects from a larger pool than that available in any given area.

Digitization has also contributed directly to a decrease in jobs as software replaces some types of work to maximize time efficiency. Other influences include financial pressures on businesses leading to a flexible workforce and the entrance of the Milennial generation into the labor market. The current reality is that people tend to change jobs several times throughout their working lives and the gig economy can be seen as an evolution of that trend.

In a gig economy, businesses save resources in terms of benefits, office space and training. They also have the ability to contract with experts for specific projects who might be too high-priced to maintain on staff. From the perspective of the freelancer, a gig economy can improve work-life balance over what is possible in most jobs. Ideally, the model is powered by independent workers selecting jobs that they're interested in, rather than one in which people are forced into a position where, unable to attain employment, they pick up whatever temporary gigs they can land.

The gig economy is part of a shifting cultural and business environment that also includes the sharing economy, the gift economy and the barter economy.

The American Law Journal examines some of the legal implications of a gig economy.

This was last updated in March 2019

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How is your organization influenced by the gig economy?
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Poor definition. Fails to tell where "gig" came from or what it means.
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The word gig was a slang word used by people referring to finding a job. "I have a gig with Count Basie. I have a gig working at the docks. etc.
GIG means job.
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The term seems to have surfaced during the 2008-2009 economic downturn. A lot of people were out of work and companies lacked resources to bring anyone on full time. Hence, people were getting temporary "gigs" at best. It could also be considered an ode to the notion of Gigabit per second networking/Internet speeds. All that said, it is at best an inaccurate buzzphrase. Perhaps there is a gig workforce, but an economy has far more factors than how people are employed. Using the term more reveals an economic ignorance than insight. Further, arguably 2008-2009 illustrated the absence of an economy not the coming of a new one.
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I was on a popular international site, where freelancers from around the world compete for projects or "jobs". Many people in countries with a much lower cost of living were getting the work, because they were much cheaper and non-competitive. Also, because of the time differences, they were able to learn about and complete the jobs much faster.
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Hi

I am a physician and I wonder if I can work through gig economy. Is there any ideas in this?

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By belief is that you are in control on who you hire. You will find a way to work through any problem. We all had to work through what ever economy that we lived in. You are stronger than you think.
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Hello Margaret,
Great information. I agree with you. I also think that Online Service Marketplaces trends are growing now days and these are the platforms where you can find professional. GIG economy is growing economy and every one wanted to do freelance work. Yes, culture is shifting.
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From my personal experience, this translates as more employers cutting costs by using skilled workers as a disposable part of their business model. This extends the trend downward for the average middle class worker getting used and hosed over, again. It's one notch above exploiting child labor.
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avejoe: My experience is just the opposite. I don't know an employer who wouldn't love to have long term dedicated employees, including myself. Unfortunately, and that's putting it lightly, they no longer exist. I know many small and medium business owners who are being forced to deal with the constant turn-over of staff and an inability to find talent that wants to work. Outsourcing on a project basis is always more costly than performing "in house" with a quality team. 
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If their turnover rates are through the roof, it means the problem is with them and their business model/workplace environment/inadequate compensation. The days of feeling a sense of loyalty or duty to one's employer disappeared when people realized it wasn't being reciprocated, and they could be laid off/underpaid/mismanaged/denied promotions. 

Companies that give their employees a stake (and, dare I say it, a share) in the company's success are able to hang on to talent long-term. Companies that treat their employees as disposable items shouldn't be surprised when employees start treating their jobs as disposable items.
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I disagree. The short term job or 'gig' will be filled regardless but at much higher cost via recruiter/agency. If you connect the employer and professional/worker directly then everyone wins.
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I am a physical laborer Gigster and see this as a means to the future which provides help to the small businesses. I suplement my gigs with Handyman work for home owners. In the past year I have built and refaced kitchen and bathroom cabinets, I have worked to hang cabinets and doors on large projects, I ran electrical wire for an electrician, assembled speaker cabinets, unloaded trucks and help set up for large promotions. The problem is finding jobs in this catagory especially in small communities but I see it as the future especially when so many people do not show up for jobs they were hired for and the high turn over companies and businesses are experiencing. this is not a downward trend but an upward trend to a different way to live. And yes this conversation can go on and on.
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Funny , I heard "Automation"  ( nee Technology) was taking away jobs..... in the 1960s.... haha    before I actually had a job for myself yet due to my age...




   Good Luck YOU will need it...


PS: save your $$$   Colleges are opening everywhere , cos ITS a no brainer business...hire workers & rake in the Cash... You only get a paper chase, worthless unless YOU pick the wrong Job that requires one!!

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Another machiavellic attempt to maximize corporate profits at employees’ detriment. Still alive and well is the colonialist modus operandi of squeezing and expending! The serfs not only till the soil. They now must perform a...gig. Any deliverer to chart a new Magna Carta?
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Before joining the mob in the U.S. pointing its angry finger at corporations, consider starting a corporation yourself. The legal and tax ramifications just to self incorporate in most states are daunting. Starting a business is a scary prospect. Perhaps that is why you find so many people willfully taking what work they can rather than starting their own business (as their grandparents did). What we have seen in private industry is what we have also seen in politics in the U.S. Thanks to our two major political parties (who produce 99 percent of the state and national lawmakers in the country), it is impossible either enter the political arena or the marketplace without paying homage to them.
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Good article gig is individual based job.  Great platform for gig jobs is gigwag among the other sites out there.
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