In recent years the Digital Revolution has sparked “The Gig Economy”, a new era of sharing, which has changed the way people work.
While the advancement in technology has enabled businesses to operate more efficiently through intelligent information sharing; for individuals it has facilitated the ability to work remotely, across time zones, and from anywhere in the world.
Characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs, the Gig economy is expanding rapidly. More & more people are moving away from the confines of corporate offices to seek flexible work, where they have more time for family, friends, and other life-fulfilling priorities.
In fact, Harvard Business Review reports as of last year – approximately 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have adopted the “gig” life to work as independent contractors. These figures will only increase. As Peter Miscovich of JLL disclosed “by 2020 gig workers will comprise half the workforce, and as much as 80% by 2030”.
As the Gig Economy continues to gain momentum, we present the top 4 trends being driven by the Gig Economy in 2019.
1) Rise of “solopreneurs”
Under the influence of the “Gig Economy”, entrepreneurship has not only drifted from its traditional definition, but also given rise to a new group of people called the “solopreneurs”.
Consisting mostly of Millennials and Generation Z’ers, solopreneurs are those who sell their skills on the market to a variety of buyers, work independently or collaborate with others to provide skills to established enterprises.
2) Demographic diversity
Demographics that have played a somewhat supporting role in the past, such as the emerging middle class, women and the elderly will also be a driving factor for the sharing economy.
For the first time in history, the middle class represents the majority of the global population – and is projected to double in the next decade, to 5.2 billion people. In the next few years, women are also expected to be responsible for two thirds of the rise in all disposable income. Meanwhile, the ageing population will continue to increase in the US, Japan, Europe and beyond.
Women are already among the most committed sharing-economy customers, and the growth of the “she-conomy” is likely to further boost this.
Additionally the sharing economy may also reshape retirement as more people choose to age in place, seek ‘gigs’ for extra income or show an increasing desire to stay in their communities.
3) Collaborative work spaces
The Gig Economy has fostered an entire industry devoted to shared work spaces. In a study conducted by Harvard, two factors that enable independent workers to thrive in the Gig Economy are places and people.
Places, in terms of unique workspaces with accessible location, practical furniture, and non-disruptive ambience, and people to bring forth collaboration and social opportunities at work.
Collaborative work spaces (coworking) are well suited to serve both needs, as they bring people together in a productive work space and facilitate freelancers with their need to market themselves & actively engage with clients.
4) Drive for Urban Sustainability
While sharing economy services bring increased flexibility and choices for consumers, it has also caused concerns ranging from unfair employment practices to worries about the impact on public safety, health and the environment.
For example, in 2015 Amsterdam launched its Action Plan for the Sharing Economy. The Plan’s approach is “don’t ban and authorise but rather monitor and seize opportunities”. Some of the plan’s key initiatives include:
- Taking steps to raise awareness of sharing services amongst low-income residents to encourage them to take part in the sharing economy
- Launching the city’s own pilot project for citizens to access city assets such as vehicles, office space and other tools free of charge.
As demographics continue to move towards a more mobile, independent-meets-collaborative style of working, it seems policymakers will be forced to step in to prevent unfair employment practices & steer the sharing economy to be socially inclusive & sustainable.
It will be interesting to see how this shift continues to impact society and future generations in years to come.
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