The Perfect Storm for the Gig Economy

I’ve been writing about the Gig Economy for over a decade and coached many workers on how to add gigs to their careers. It’s been exciting to watch people take control of their careers and financial security. I think we’ve hit the perfect storm for the Gig Economy, and a recent Forbes online interview with Dylan Ogline, CEO of Ogline Digital and gig economy apologist, confirms I’ve observed.

We’re fond of saying that the global pandemic has changed work forever. It definitely changed the way workers at every level and every point in their careers viewed their own work. We learned just how connected every sector of the economy is and how everything can change in a moment. Workers who felt safe in their jobs lost their sense of security. Workers who loved their jobs learned how fragile their careers really were, and workers who hated their jobs were given a chance to rethink everything.

Ogline said, “The first step was that people were forced to sit at home for months on end, this allowed them to see what their lives were like without their jobs and reconsider their options. The second step that followed is that older people, Gen Xers and even some Boomers began dipping their feet into the gig-economy. This is notable because the majority of gig-workers had consisted on Millenials and Gen Zers. “

We learned a lot during lockdowns and while working from home. We learned what really mattered – people over things; health and happiness over success and ambition. We pared back our lives to the bare essentials: home and family, giving up outside entertainment and distractions and costly “nice to have” amenities.

We had time to think. Lots of time to think. We had time to think about what we liked about our work and what we didn’t want to do any more. We had time to talk over what we wanted for our future with our partners. We had time to dust off that idea for a business we’ve been thinking about for years and take a serious look at it.

Young people are realizing that they must do something to take charge of their own future, to save and invest as a way to manage risk and uncertainty. Older workers who might have been sleepwalking through the final few years of their career have awakened and decided to look for something better. They’re taking inventory of their skills and their assets and venturing out on their own. Workers in the middle of their careers are working on side hustles that can help them pay down debt and plan for early – or at least earlier – retirements.

Workers who were thrust into remote work gained back several hours a day they had been spending on commuting and after hours work events. Some used the time to binge Netflix, but a significant number used the time to research business ideas and learn new skills. And almost every worker learned more about technology and remote work, developing the digital skills they could use to offer freelance services to clients through online platforms, expanding their earning potential.

Ogline again: “The third and final step has been the great resignation, people have decided in droves to stick to their gig-work than return to their offices. Its been one thrilling and unexpected ride.”

On the other side of the equation, companies learned that you didn’t have to be face-to-face to get valuable work done. They learned that lean and nimble organizations fare better in uncertain times than companies with traditional structures, policies, and large numbers of full-time employees. They are taking the opportunity to rethink how they recruit and use talent. Employing gig workers makes sense for many companies, now more than ever.

 Gig work has always made sense for people who want to diversify their income, earn more income, and build more security and independence. The Chinese characters that form the word “crisis” are “danger” and “change point.” The world has been through both in the last two years; workers and companies that take the opportunity to move in a new direction will be the ones to thrive in the economy that emerges from this crisis.

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