Robin, has a website for her contracted artwork and also runs a thriving lunch-counter business. As if that didn’t fill the college graduate’s 7-day work-week, she also has a part-time job doing food and wine demos at a large box store and teaches painting at the local recreation center “for fun”. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. This combination of gigs enables Robin to support her “art habit” while also assuring a weekly cash flow and a stable income to support her preference of a flexible lifestyle. However, the growing gig economy is not simply a way for artists, musicians, and actors to support their passions, it’s becoming part of the fabric of business in America, and this way of working is anticipated by some to double by 2020.
Like Robin, those participating in this form of work do so in many different roles: freelancer, consultant, self-employed, entrepreneur, contingent worker, on-demand worker, temp worker, shared workforce, and independent contractor. And the employers who hire them do so for a variety of different reasons as well.
On-demand workers are now being sought in a wide range of business environments, from services such as Uber, to businesses like Amazon. It’s easy to see the appeal of an on-demand workforce as a solution for staying nimble in today’s economy. It works nicely in response to the ebb and flow of business, to meet increasing demands for/in technology, and to cut encumbered payroll and benefit costs. Known as the “1099 loophole”, more and more business are not only hiring independent contractors in professional capacities, they’re cutting sizable portions of their full-time workforce in favor of on-demand workers. Industries such as the arts, media and communications, construction, accounting, and transportation are not newcomers to the time-sheet and gig-specific platform, but this format is now also moving into industries such as engineering, information technology, and brick and mortar business operations. In addition to the flexibility, and financial and technological benefits to businesses, “the changing needs of today’s workers, the war for [experienced] talent, and the globalization of the workforce” are other reasons for the advancement of the gig economy, according to Arun Srinivasan, senior vice president of Strategy and Customer Operations of SAP Field-glass. And finding that talent has never been easier, thanks to simplified on-line employment applications, search engines, and social media.