Editor Tina Brown first coined the term “gig economy” back in 2009, writing for the Daily Beast about how people, post-crash, were pursuing work in the form of “a bunch of free-floating projects, consultancies and part-time bits and pieces while they transacted in a digital marketplace.”
Today, the gig economy has grown into something much larger and influential, far beyond the creative class to which Brown was referring. MetLife published a report on the gig economy, which now 30 million Americans receive their main income from—a fifth of the entire workforce. In addition, 15 million workers augment their “conventional” full-time job with gig/freelance projects. The MetLife report, quite less colorfully than Brown, defines gig work as “contract work paid per-project by a company, third party, or online marketplace.”
Workers in the gig economy wish to stay there
A full 85% of those who are already gig workers are interested in continuing doing gig work in the next five years, over conventional work.
Part of the appeal is independence. Three in four says that gig work gives them the flexibility they need to balance both their work and life. (A full 53% of full-time employees want their employers to offer flexible work schedules.)
Nearly half (49%) say that not being able to work remotely is the reason they left conventional full-time work.
Gig work looks attractive to conventional employees, as well
A majority (67%) are interested in switching to gig work instead of their current traditional jobs.
Twenty-percent of full-time employees have a second job, and of those, nearly half (49%) plan on leaving their current employer for contract or freelance work in the next five years.
However, there’s one big thing that can make them stay: benefits. Almost a third (29%) of full-time employees who plan on leaving their jobs for work in the gig economy in the next five years say better benefits might make them stay.
(And for employers looking to attract gig workers to come to the conventional side, 43% of them say good benefits could convince them to take the job.)
Gig work is good for the soul
Those who are working for themselves or on contract are after something higher in their work.
- 48% say they work to get a sense of fulfillment
- 47% say a major influence in working is to gain self-worth
- 45% say they are more satisfied with their current freelance/contract work than their previous conventional job
Much has changed since Brown coined the term “gig economy” and referred to cocktail-party chatter and the recitation of multiple gigs as “the white noise of the free fall.” Now, the gig economy is a place workers of all incomes aspire to, as more and more people look to it as an answer to the independence they aren’t getting from the nine to five hustle.