When it comes to changes in the way that business is structured, perhaps there has been no greater shift than in the way that people work. Hyper-connectivity, thanks to the rapid advances of mobile technology, means that the world of work has opened up to a whole new audience.
If you’re feeling skeptical about the so-called gig industry, read on to find out how it is that the gig economy is changing the tech industry for the better.
What is the Gig Economy?
The birth of the “gig economy” has changed the way that people look at work – flexibility dominates as people are paid per project, rather than salaried or hourly wages.
So, how do we “define” this new form of industry? By looking at the three main components:
The independent workers
The companies who connect the worker to the consumer and vice versa
The consumer who requires a specific service
The most famous example of a business which runs on the gig economy is Uber. The consumer needs a car to take them from Point A to Point B. The company connects the consumer to the worker, who drives their own car. The independent worker is paid for the gig – in this case, the car ride. Uber is just one example of how the gig industry is taking over our public consciousness and everything from TaskRabbit to Airbnb provides services in a similar manner. In fact, one of the main differences between a gig and a more traditional working structure is that the gig is seen as a one-off, and the worker is paid only for that service.
The concept of a gig economy is actually nothing new. What was once known as independent contracting, freelancing, or flexible working now contains around 60 million US workers. In 2005, the gig economy increased from 10.1 percent to 15.8 percent in 2015. By 2016, almost 1 in 4 Americans reported earning some money from the digital platform economy.
How is the Gig Economy Changing the world of Tech?
While all industries are evolving and changing, the tech and creative industries are the most susceptible to the gig economy. The Accenture Technology Vision 2017 report found that:
85% of executives plan to increase their organization’s use of independent freelance workers over the next year.
76% of executives agree organizations are under extreme competitive pressure to extend innovation into their workforce and corporate structure.
73% of executives we surveyed report that corporate bureaucracies are stifling productivity and innovation.
In fact, a recent survey commissioned by online freelancing platform Upwork and Freelancers Union shows that the freelance workforce is growing three times faster than the overall US workforce and that the majority of people will be working independently by 2027.
Obviously, some people are concerned; the gig economy, by its very nature, seems less reliable and provides little by way of job stability. However, the numbers indicate higher benefits and fewer pitfalls.
The emergence of cloud-based solutions has helped to create a balance in the supply-demand nature of the gig economy. Thanks to the ability for people to be able to access the information that they need wherever and whenever they choose, it’s opened up entirely new ways of living. No longer do workers have to feel like they need to be stuck in an office. In fact, this kind of flexible working arrangement allows people to prioritize their commitments outside of work and increases their feelings of agency and control over their day to day living.
The cloud platform is also fundamentally changing the way in which people approach the nature of work. It acts as a kind of digital matchmaker, allowing companies and businesses the opportunities to find the right workers for their project – and allowing contractors to pick and choose who it is that they want to work with.
The decentralized technology at the heart of blockchain is poised to fundamentally change the way in which workers consider the nature of work.
A lot of the nature of the gig economy relies on trust – from the contractor to the business, and vice versa. While blockchain may be inextricably linked with bitcoin, the nature of the ledgers will also allow both the gig worker and the client to see who performed which work, and when. Noting this down on a ledger will help independent workers to verify their skills and talents, allowing less opportunity for their work to go by uncredited. It also allows businesses to pick and choose who they want to work with, and easily check credentials.
Blockchain will also allow a more reliable and faster way for workers to be paid for what they’ve done. The exchange of intellectual property – from the contractor to the business – means that they will automatically receive payment as part of the agreement. This will cut back on the concerns of delayed or neglected payment and makes blockchain increasingly more valuable for freelancers.
Like Uber, many gig economy-based companies rely on bespoke apps being created to serve their needs. These apps, therefore, rely on having the most skilled developers and need constant updating. Truly, the gig economy fuels itself – as the innovations extend and cross-pollinate, so the opportunities continue to grow.
The emphasis on innovation and development across a global platform will also allow gig workers to share knowledge and experience among each other, consistently evolving the tech game within the gig economy – without having to negotiate intra-office bureaucracy or office based politics.
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