There is a shift occurring in the modern UK job market. In among the stagnating wages of the standard 9-5, there is a thriving gig economy that has more than doubled over the last three years — now accounting for 4.7 million workers across the British Isles.
Of course, the nature of freelance and so-called gig work — jobs like delivery drivers, events staff and temporary bar staff — isn’t all as exciting or prosperous as it sounds. Zero-hour and short term, insecure contracts are rife in the temporary market, neither of which offer their workers much financial reassurance. However, for many, the gig economy is providing a better working experience than ever.
With the temporary market booming, could freelance work be the future of our economy? Here are four reasons why it might.
A sense of independence
The additional flexibility to be your own boss (of sorts) offers huge benefits to freelance workers. The rigours of managing an inconsistent schedule might not be for everyone, but for many, being able to choose a working pattern makes for a much-improved work-life balance.
Obviously, it’s imperative that enough work is coming in to stay afloat, but over half of gig economy workers say they are satisfied with their current setup, noting the independent and flexible nature of their experience as the number one reason.
Maximise your earnings
There is a compensatory element to the nature of short-term contracts. Typically, contract work comes attached with a higher rate of pay than its full-time equivalent, as a reflection that the work is only temporary, and the worker will need to transition to another role.
This does, however, mean a well-managed schedule can provide better “full-time” earnings or an adequate income supplemented by more free time — it’s really down to how busy you are or want to be. Many full-time workers are also using the gig economy to create a “side hustle”, enabling them to augment their current salary and better manage their personal finances.
Chase a passion project
The full-time demographic features a significant portion of workers who are unsatisfied with their careers. The reality for many is the necessity of secure earnings outweighs the dissatisfaction of a role. Particularly if someone has progressed in their career to a level where they’re earning a salary unobtainable elsewhere, it’s even more difficult to jump ship.
Away from the extra earnings potential, the side hustle allows those in full time employment to develop a part time passion project — occasional work that aligns more with their interests. Thus, the gig economy offers more than just an economic advantage, allowing people greater job satisfaction and overall happiness.
Enhance and diversify your skill set
There’s a mutual employer-employee benefit that comes attached with a temporary arrangement, particularly in high-skill sectors.
Employers who only need temporary access to a certain skillset, or indeed can’t afford a permanent option, can take advantage of a skilled worker for a set amount of time, as per their requirements. The employees, meanwhile, can expand and diversify their skill base by working on multiple projects consecutively or at once, offering them the opportunity to become a more complete professional in their trade.
This is particularly prevalent in technical sectors, where skilled work is at a premium. Freelance work allows for workers to boost their own value, whilst helping a business in their time of need — a universally beneficial setup.
The make-up of freelance work isn’t for everyone, but it does appear to be becoming the way forward for more and more workers. When the growth in the gig economy will come to a halt is somewhat of an unknown — what’s clear right now is it is playing a bigger part than ever in modern society.