Shawnee Love •
September 8, 2017
I have been avidly following the arguments for and against the gig economy ever since I heard of the court case from Uber drivers who want to be designated as employees by the courts. It brought the pros and cons of gig work and gig workers to the forefront and I figure it is worth a discussion:
To gig or not to gig
While LoveHR has come a long way, I started this business as a freelancer. I figured smallish companies might need some HR help but not all the time. If I could sell a sliver of my pie of time to multiple clients, gradually the entire pie would be “eaten up”.
Over the last 8+ years, that model has morphed into something larger scale and with bigger goals, but at the start, I remember loving the freedom and flexibility that comes with setting my own hours, working when I felt productive, and choosing when and how to do the various kinds of work that came my way. I was living the gig lifestyle at its finest when the cheques started arriving (although the 4-6 week delay was tough to acclimatize to).
After reading the arguments coming out of uber drivers and complaints from many others who see themselves exploited and victims of the gig economy, it is obvious not everyone has such a fantastic experience.
The challenges for many workers who find themselves freelancing in their industries of marketing, sales, IT, HR, admin, etc., occur when:
- They don’t want to be doing gigs. They want their “forever job” and the security, stability and benefits (leave protection, employment insurance, etc.) that comes with it. I.e., Freelancing isn’t a choice, but necessary for survival and when in survival mode, stress impacts the personal life.
- They are a commodity or there is nothing so unique about what they do (e.g., in the case of an Uber driver), that someone else can’t step in and do it cheaper or faster. That means they can’t set their hours, compensation and perks and thus the work terms and conditions may not even meet minimum standards set out by local employment laws. They are also at the mercy of the hungrier competitor including those used to far poorer work conditions and wages in this global economy.
The gig economy will work for you when you are:
- Risk tolerant and motivated by freedom and flexibility,
- Capable of wearing the multiple hats of a business owner because freelancers run their own businesses (check out the E-myth for a great overview on these hats and the associated challenges and realities), and
- Uniquely talented so few can undercut, or even really do your kind of work.
At least that’s my sense. Would love to hear from others. Please comment below.