Working for yourself in a freelance or self employed capacity is nothing new. For decades people have worked in a flexible capacity either through necessity or choice. However, with the advent of gigging apps and other freelance work providers, the sector has seen a huge boom. So what is the gig economy?

gig

4[gig]Slang.

noun

a single professional engagement, usually of short duration, as of jazz or rock musicians.any job, especially one of short or uncertain duration:a teaching gig out west somewhere.

verb (used without object), gigged, gig·ging.

to work as a musician, especially in a single engagement: He gigged with some of the biggest names in the business. source

Working in the Gig Economy

The phrase ‘gigging’, as you can see from the above definition, originates from the jobbing rock musician moving from venue to venue, playing single ‘gigs’ and receiving a one off, set fee.

Gigging musicians are the ultimate example of gig based work. Ask any musician who has worked in this capacity and they’ll tell you horror stories of nightmare publicans refusing to pay up or dreadful working conditions or hostile audiences. This is the luck of the draw on the night.

However, for these people, the draw of being their own boss, and of course being able to pursue what they love, is simply to great to turn down. So they keep going. Booking their gigs into their calendar, and taking the rough with the smooth.

The good news is, whilst pursuing a career in live music is of course very much still a serious option for many people, there are number of other, more professional alternatives.

If you’re anything like me, the flexibility and entrepreneurial nature of gig job might sound appealing. But you’re probably less impressed with the idea of working totally alone, having to book your own work in your chosen field totally under your own steam. And this is where gig working apps come in.

Where can I find gig work?

If you’re one of the people trying to figure out ‘what is the gig economy?’, you might already know more about the industry than you think. Take a look around your city next time you’re out and about, and have a think about what different types of employment you can see.

Have you ever taken a taxi? Almost certainly. What about an Uber? Perhaps not. I’d bet you might have heard of them though. Uber are the ultimate gig employer, and growing rapidly around the globe.

Uber is appealing to passengers for the simplicity of being able to hail a taxi at the click of a button from their phone. And it’s that flexibility that also appeals to their drivers.

Uber drivers who are successfully accepted on to the programme are able to pick up work as and when they choose by simply logging on to the app. They can work for however long they choose. And they can simply turn it off when they’ve had enough.

I was talking to a Ghanaian Uber driver recently who told me I was his last fare of the afternoon. “How come?” I asked. “Because I’m going home to watch the World Cup!”

The dude was a keen football fan and, unlike your average worker, he was able to simply ‘clock out’ of his job for a few hours to pursue his hobby that he enjoyed, and the ‘clock in’ later on. And the best part? There is always a steady stream of pre-booked passengers waiting to be picked up.

Uber takes care of the booking, rating and payment system. All he has to do is keep his clean driving and taxi licence and pick up the passengers.

Sounding appealing? Let’s look at some other similar apps providing gig work.

I’ve heard of Uber. Who else is there?

Deliveroo is another provider that you may be aware of, with their fast-food couriers darting their way around city centres all over the country.

Working in a similar way to Uber, Deliveroo workers can clock on when they wish, pick up orders and receive a fixed fee for each happy customer who’s appetite they have helped satisfy.

And that’s just two of the big names in the gig economy. The volume of providers and type of work they provide is growing seemingly by the week. So whatever your skill, it seems increasingly likely that you’ll find an app that can help you work on a freelance, gig based basis.

What’s the catch?

Nothing! You’ll become a millionaire overnight! Nah, in all seriousness of course there are drawbacks.

One of the key focus points of this blog is to keep abreast of recent developments in the gig economy. Who is new the the market. Who is offering what work. And most importantly, what legal wranglings workers are facing.

And this is one of the key drawbacks to working in the gig economy.

Gig workers are often classed as self employed. This isn’t universal across the board, some workers might get the same rights as full time employed colleagues. But largely this is the case.

Working in the gig economy means giving up the safety, security and guarantee of a salary that full time employed workers receive. In the worse cases, being sick means no income coming in other than statutory sick pay. And as we know, that aint a deal.

That’s something that all prospective gig workers need to weight up. Take a good look at the ‘package’ offered by your gig provider. Can you live on it? Will you be able to support yourself should the worst happen and you’re off work sick? Are you able to budget properly on a fluctuating income when you’re used to a defined salary landing in your account every month?

That’s the dilemma. But for many, particularly those unable or unwilling to work in a steady 9 to 5 job, gig working might just be the perfect remedy, and the path to an exciting, dynamic new career.

As always, whatever path you choose, I wish you health and happiness.

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