Whether it’s through direct experience, talking to a friend, or reading an article online, everyone is aware of the digital gig economy. From freelance writing to graphic design, consulting, IT support, and a plethora of other occupations, there’s no shortage of work for those who are willing to hop onto the contractor bandwagon.
The question that must be asked, however, is if the shift to the digital gig economy model is good for everyone involved. Does it help those doing the freelancing? What about the businesses that are hiring them?
As is the case with so many things in life, the answer tends to be somewhere in between. Here are some of the pros and cons of the digital gig economy.
The Pros of the Gig Economy
While there are many positives associated with the gig economy, here are a few of the most obvious benefits:
The gig economy is famous for its flexibility, especially in the digital arena. As long as they get their work done in a timely manner, gig workers can typically create their own schedules, work their own hours, and execute assignments at whatever time of the day or night they please.
The ability to work remotely is common these days, especially since the coronavirus forced a majority of companies to hastily adopt a 100% remote-work model. When businesses reopen and everyone returns to the office, however, freelancers will still be able to work from the comfort of their own homes without question.
When it comes to the employer side of things, hiring gig workers can provide savings in multiple ways. From avoiding the cost of a full-time salary employee to less need for office space, working with contractors can be an effective business model.
While they must vet each contractor carefully to assess their skills, companies can benefit from gig workers by gaining access to seasoned, experienced, and trained professionals. In addition, being able to do this at a fraction of the price it would cost to bring them on as full-time employees only sweetens the deal.
The Cons of the Gig Economy
Contrasted against the benefits, there are several significant negatives that should be carefully considered:
Lack of Security
One of the greatest cons of freelancing is the simple fact that there is no job security. From flaky client payments to a frustrating ebb and flow of assignments, gig work can be both unpredictable and insecure.
Extra Costs and Responsibilities
Freelancers are not part of a larger company, and as such, they must take care of what amounts to a one-person operation. This includes a host of extra costs and responsibilities. For instance, they must track and pay their own taxes and market themselves. In addition, they must take care of their own equipment, office space, payments, and other entrepreneurial concerns without the support of a larger company infrastructure to help.
From the employer’s perspective, hiring digital gig economy workers can be difficult because there’s little to no loyalty involved. Gig workers are notorious for their rapid turnover, and they naturally cannot be trusted to prioritize the success of your company over their own safety.
Lack of Control
Employers also lack a certain degree of control over gig economy workers. Rather than working in an employee/employer relationship, they must adapt to a peer relationship in which they work with the contractor, rather than the contractor working for them. The lack of control regarding schedules, assignments, and productivity expectations require a large degree of flexibility.
Navigating the Digital Gig Economy
There’s no cut and dry verdict regarding the digital gig economy. The mixture of positives and negatives simply makes it another facet of the ever-evolving modern business world.
There’s little doubt, however, that in one form or another, the gig economy is here to stay. As such, all companies should work to discover how they can tap into the pros while mitigating the cons that freelance workers offer to their particular organization.