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Gig Economy? What Is That?

In a “gig economy”, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend toward hiring ‘independent contractors’ and ‘freelancers’ instead of full-time employees.

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Photo via Stokk/Shutterstock

These aren’t the temporary positions WFA Staffing and others have been filling for years.  A ‘gig economy’ undermines the traditional economy all of us are familiar with since we began working and hiring employees and producing products and delivering services.  The gig economy holds the promise of threatening and ultimately undermining the traditional economy you and me are part of today.

In the economy we know and understand today, the employer/employee relationship can and does often involve a reasonably permanent relationship of full time and part time employees as skills are better developed and as business flourishes because of dependable workers producing dependable products or providing dependable services.  The customers also know they can depend on the work to be performed to their expectations since there are levels of protection layered into the a

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In the gig economy, the tendency is to hire as needed with many of those hired expected to provide their own equipment/tools with which to complete the work they were hired to do.  Obviously, we have had a sort of “gig” economy when you look at such companies as Uber where the ‘contractee’ works if and when there is a demand and uses his or her own vehicle that must meet the standards of the ‘employer’ provided the terms of an agreement have been met and maintained.


Then, try to imagine the Uber concept taking over other service niches and other manufacturing, transportation and construction industries.  Some part-time and temporary employees have been working for a long time in those sectors where demand is up and down from month to month.  Imagine the rest of business and industry moving to the employment of people if and when they have the demand, of trying to retain their good and experienced people when they can’t guarantee a paycheck at the end of each week.

Yes, there are probably examples today where that does work but those are typically not the large manufacturers or large retail operations or professional staff people in any of the fields such as law, health care, advertising and so on.  An Uber operation works but not without a lot of glitches since there is only the agreement between Uber and the person owning the vehicle that signed a contract with Uber and promised to do a good job, etc., etc.

This trend will probably continue to grow if there are people willing to do the work/provide the service using their own equipment, tools, vehicles, etc. and if the customer is willing to take a chance.  The Gig economy contains a lot of “ifs”.  Be careful.


Alan Campbell, Consultant


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