The gig economy is type of employment made up of independent workers, who typically engage in short-term job positions. Freelancers, Uber drivers, Airbnb hosts, and more, make up this new wave of employment, one in which employees are free to make their own schedules, be their own bosses, and work where they want.
More than one-third (36%) of US workers are a part of the gig economy, totaling to about 57 million people, according to Forbes. While the gig economy used to be a way to make ends meet in-between traditional jobs, workers are starting to morph the gig economy into full-time professions.
"People realize that the dynamics, when it comes to the workforce, are changing. In the next 10 years, 25% of the jobs will not exist anymore," said Marcos Jacober, CEO of Life Hacks Wealth. "At first, people saw that as an opportunity to make a side gig, but it actually came and replaced the old part-time job. People realized that this is actually kind of cool, not to have a boss. I can be managing my own hours, I can make extra cash. So they migrate to that, and it is now the new trend for 2019. This is a very lucrative business."
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This way of work is especially popular with younger crowds, said Matthew Guarini, research director serving CIO professionals at Forrester. Nearly half (46%) of Generation Z workers are freelancers, a number that is only expected to grow as nearly 61 million Gen Zers come into the workforce in the next couple years.
However, the gig economy has the potential to change even more as more people adopt the gig mindset, said Jacober. And more companies are going to start catering to gig employees, added Guarini.
Here are the three biggest shifts the gig economy will see in 2019:
1. More companies will jump on the gig economy bandwagon
Employees are looking for flexibility at work, which is what makes the gig economy so appealing. Flexibility has a huge impact on employee productivity; in fact, 38% of employees want less in-office distractions and would be more motivated if they were given flexible scheduling options. If companies want to attain and retain top talent, they should consider offering more gig worker positions; and come 2019, more companies will, according to Guarini.
"You're going to see continued opportunities [in 2019]," Guarini said. "When you've got near full employment, and you've got rising wages, we think this can be a pretty efficient way to bring talent into the workforce."
2. Positions will target selective problems
Another potential shift in the gig economy will be a focus on specific issues, said Guarini. "One of the potentials that you might see is that ability to bring in top talent to solve selective problems," he said.
"Those people will want to be able to sell their services as they go from company to company. The company may not need that capability for long, so that ability to bring that capability in, learn from the person and then build that in the organization, while that person then moves on—that's where 2019 starts to play out," he added.
Not only is the gig economy beneficial for the employees, but employers also reap the rewards. Employers who hire independent contractors don't have to provide benefits, paid time off, sick days, and more. Companies can also use gig workers to target short-term goals without having to hire on full-time employees for that one task, Guarini said.
3. A change in mentality
The biggest thing that will change in 2019 is mentality, according to Jacober. As more people join the gig economy, they are transitioning from a traditional employment mentality, to one of a business operator, he said.
"The problem, most people don't realize, is when they migrate from the employment to the shared economy platform, they took the old employment mentality with them," Jacober said. "They are still leveraging time, and that's a losing proposition for anybody. Because that's the reason why can get rich in your job in the first place. Because you're trading time for money, and time is scarce. That is what is happening in 2018, but there's a shift going on moving forward to 2019."
"And the beauty of it is when you understand how to leverage, you don't have to operate or create passive income by utilizing just one platform," Jacober continued. "You can make money on Airbnb, for example, you can make money renting your car, you can make money boarding dogs, you can make money all different ways, and you can utilize all those platforms to create different streams of income."
- The gig economy: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- How AirBnB is targeting business travelers (ZDNet)
- IT budgeting: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Airbnb for Work gains scale, bookings with companies tripled (ZDNet)
- How the gig economy is fundamentally changing the next generation of work (TechRepublic)
Macy Bayern has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.