Workers in a gig economy can enjoy a number of advantages, but there also are potential disadvantages. The Balance, Investopedia, ThoughtCo., and TimeCamp present some pros and cons. Pros: greater flexibility, more variety, increased independence, and better work-life balance. Cons: irregular income, complex taxes, no benefits, and fewer connections.
What Does the Gig Economy Offer Employers?
Businesses and individuals hiring workers also can gain advantages from the gig economy. The arrangement can provide employers with cost savings. For example, each contractor saves companies more than $800 a month compared with the salary and benefits for a traditional employee, according to a 2020 report from payroll company ADP.
What the gig economy offers to businesses can be positive in a number of other ways as well. Advantages include the following:
- Broad talent pool — With many gig opportunities available remotely, businesses hiring these workers often can select from people from all over the world.
- Less costly support — Because gig workers are responsible for their own benefits, such as health insurance and time off, companies can gain the productivity of additional workers without being responsible for these expenses.
- Fewer requirements — Since they aren’t full-time employees and often work off-site, gig workers typically don’t need the onboarding and office space that a traditional employee generally requires.
- Less risk — When businesses hire gig workers, the jobs often aren’t long-term engagements, making it less risky than hiring full-time employees.
Working in the Gig Economy
What is the gig economy workforce? Its workers act more as entrepreneurs than as traditional employees, independently promoting their services and seeking clients and work assignments. They often can set their own hours, depending on the role. Virtual assistants, who provide administrative help, might work during the business hours of their clients, for example, while food delivery drivers might choose to work only a few evenings a week.
What Is a Gig Economy Worker?
The gig economy includes freelancers and independent contractors, who work for themselves. Freelancers generally serve multiple clients simultaneously, while independent contractors may work with a single client on a long-term project.
Contingent workers are another part of the gig economy. These workers hold roles in companies that are similar to those of traditional employees — but, as with freelancers and independent contractors, the work is temporary and doesn’t offer employee benefits. Common examples of gig economy work include:
- Traditional freelance — Providing contracted services to businesses and individuals, including creative work like writing and photography
- Self-employment — Offering services that include skilled trade jobs, with workers that include electricians and plumbers
- Gig marketplace — Performing on-demand work as solicited through online services, with work ranging from property management to grocery shopping
- Other gig opportunities — Earning supplemental income through efforts often called “side hustles,” such as selling goods on eBay or Etsy
Industries That Rely on Gig Workers
Gig economy workers are what many industries rely on to assist their full-time staff or to provide all services their businesses require. Following are gig economy workers’ roles by economic sector, as categorized by the World Economic Forum:
- Asset-sharing services — Renting one’s own property, like homes or cars, to other individuals
- Professional services — Completing projects such as coding or administrative work for individuals, businesses, and organizations
- Handmade goods, household, and miscellaneous services (HGHM) — Selling homemade crafts or offering on-demand household services, including craft sales and pet sitting
- Transportation-based services — Assisting individuals who need transport services, such as through ride-sharing or grocery delivery apps
Gig Economy Examples and Platforms
After learning what the gig economy is, those interested in pursuing this type of work should explore examples of jobs and how to get them. The many options for pursuing gig work are a testament to gig work’s growing popularity among workers and those who hire them. Following are some gig economy examples by type of job and gig economy platforms.
9 Gig Economy Job Examples
From data entry to delivery service, and from tutoring to tech support, many different types of jobs abound in the gig economy. Jobs available through gig work include:
Depending on the type of business these workers support, duties can include:
- Scheduling appointments
- Data entry
- Staffing an information desk
- Organizing files
Gig work opportunities include caring for other people, such as babysitting and elder care.
Workers such as graphic designers and writers fall into the category of creative services. Graphic designers use computer software to design items such as ads or logos, and writers can create content ranging from magazine articles to research reports.
Another type of gig work entails delivering food from restaurants or grocery and household items from stores. Among U.S. adults using apps to find gig work, 7% have made deliveries, and 4% have delivered food or other store-purchased items, according to the 2021 Pew Research report. Another 3% have delivered packages using their own vehicles.
Household Task Support
Six percent of Americans finding work through online apps have provided services such as performing household tasks or running errands, Pew reports. Work can include house cleaning, landscaping, and home maintenance and repair tasks.
People can earn money through short-term rentals of their possessions. Among the opportunities for this type of gig work are renting their homes, cars, or boats.
Five percent of American adults who have used apps to find gig work have provided ride-sharing services, Pew reports. These drivers typically use their own vehicles to transport people as requested.
Tutors work with students. They support the efforts of teachers by offering additional assistance in specific subject areas or in test preparation.
Web developers create and implement the code required for developing websites. Their work establishes the look and performance of a site.