Report: The gig economy will return in full force in 2021

New data from Monster shows that 9 out of 10 workers see now as the time to find nontraditional work.

Freelancing. Working from home

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In recent years, the gig economy has become an attractive solution for both employees and workers alike, offering both flexibility and lower commitment than traditional work models. But since the dawn of COVID-19, it's seen a new resurgence in popularity, as employers and employees are grappling with an uncertain economy. While TechRepublic reported  just a year ago that the gig economy may be in danger, due to increased regulations, new research is showing that it has become an even more appealing option for the American workforce.

While before COVID-19 things may have slowed down, many Fortune 500 CEOs agree that the gig economy is the new future of work. The gig economy has real benefits for employers, and IT sector employers especially, according to data from recent Constellation Research, which shows that gig economy projects have been 30% more efficient, reduced customer complaints, and were rated higher in satisfaction for gig workers themselves. 

New research from Monster, conducted in December 2020, examines the trend further, exploring the ways that workers are searching for new work, what's happened with PTO since COVID-19, and what's in store for gig workers in 2021.

SEE: The gig economy: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

When it comes to jobs, a whopping 92% think that now is the time to look for gig work. This is not a big surprise, because 57% of workers see this as a great solution to stay afloat in between jobs, given the current unpredictable economic situation. Long-term gigs appeal to more than half of respondents, and 27% say they want short-term work.

As for what's to come in 2021, the Monster report shows that over 50% of workers (56%) are rethinking their goals for 2021, and another 25% are simply focusing on surviving the current situation. Some resourceful workers (41%) have beefed up their skills, been able to successfully manage the work/life balance (34%), and transitioned smoothly into remote work (33%). Still, the report shows that most workers were unable to advance this year—64% did not earn a raise or promotion in 2020.

According to the report, PTO went largely unused in 2020—nearly half of workers (46%) weren't able to use it. Some did not take by choice (16%) and some felt pressured to not fall behind at work (15%). And 64% of workers were not allowed to roll over their PTO normally, and even with COVID-19, 80% said that they were still not able to because of the pandemic.

"As unsettling as some of these results are, they are not that surprising. Sadly, we've seen more and more workers—across all sectors—not taking vacation and personal time offered by their employers, whether that's due to an increased workload or a struggle to find a good work/life balance," Claire Barnes, Monster Worldwide SVP of human resources, said in the press release. "When your kitchen table becomes your office, it gets harder and harder to distinguish between work and home, and we see that in stats such as these."

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