Evidence of the “gig economy,” a term popularized in 2008 during the height of the financial crisis, is everywhere. Whether you’re taking an Uber, ordering your groceries on Instacart, or getting takeout delivered with DoorDash, there’s a pretty high chance that you’ve participated in this new marketplace.
Although the idea of being paid as an independent contractor is nothing new, the gig economy makes up a larger portion of the workforce than ever before. This growth is partially attributable to the development of technology; companies can hire employees from all over the world who can work for them remotely. Mobile apps such as Upwork have enabled businesses like Uber and Airbnb to hire a huge number of contract workers, while social media has given people the ability to market themselves in a virtually limitless, and very cheap, space.
Now that we’ve established what the gig economy is, let’s look at 3 ways you can benefit from this freelance-saturated market.
Although this may sound harsh, the reality is that increased output and productivity will lead to greater professional opportunity and internal satisfaction. The stakes for independent workers are much higher in comparison with traditional employees. While freedom from corporate hierarchies and bureaucracy can enable individuals to pursue projects that reflect their interests, it also puts them in a precarious position. Money, reputation and, for some, identity, is at stake. You’re in charge of managing yourself – and that takes self discipline.
In order to mitigate the precarity inherent to a freelance economy, it is essential to harness the discipline required to induce a consistent workflow. Unanswered emails, missed calls, and unfinished documents create a recipe for self-doubt that can detrimentally erode the confidence of any capable worker.
Freelance workers should strive to create a work environment that is physically, socially and psychologically peaceful and productive in order to prevent stress and encourage experimentation.
As mentioned above, your work environment has the power to significantly shape productivity and output. Feelings of self-isolation and burnout are especially common amongst independent workers; this kind of mental and physical exhaustion can zap the joy out of your career, and interactions with family and friends. It can also negatively impact your ability to complete the day-to-day tasks that are critical to the functioning of your business.
Being in touch with yourself is important to maintaining personal and professional health; having a better understanding of your habits and reactions will help you to determine what works and what doesn’t when it comes to structuring your workspace.
Technology has made work a fluid concept, and as a result the environment in which it is completed is extraordinarily flexible. Most people have abandoned the traditional “9 to 5” work day structure in favour of a personalized schedule that fits their work habits and lifestyle. Examining and reflecting on your productivity habits is a great way to ensure that your work schedule is working for you.
For instance, let’s say you’ve noticed that you tend to wake up bright and early at 7am for work feeling motivated and energized, but feel like you’ve hit a slump by the early afternoon. In this case, it would be a good idea to schedule high-priority tasks in the morning to capitalize on that boost of energy, while medium and low priority tasks should be shifted to the afternoon or evening.
While it’s difficult to predict the direction of the gig economy, and how it will ultimately impact the job market, it’s a reality to which companies and workers must continue to adapt.