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What it’s really like to be a gig worker

On-demand work has become extremely popular, referring to those who work on a freelance, temporary or independent basis. It is an effective model for those who want more autonomy and flexibility in their work and life. And it works well for companies that are hiring more and more freelancers, so they have greater variability in their work, matching work to demand cycles.

For many, on-demand work may seem like the ideal, as it seems to have many benefits without the constraints, rules, or limitations of full-time work for an organization. But is gig work all it’s supposed to be? Answer: There are significant pros and cons.

Gig Workers are everywhere

According to Zety, there are approximately 59 million self-employed people, or 36% of all US employees. Additionally, the number of gig workers is expected to reach 85.6 million by 2027, and the gig economy could reach $455 billion.

Gig work tends to cluster by industry, with the largest number of gig workers contributing in technology, accounting, art and design, administration, and administration. education. Additionally, most freelancers (76%) work for two or three companies at a time, and most (94%) find work using online platforms.

Businesses are increasingly calling on independent labour. According to a Fiverr survey, 81% of companies say they use temporary labor to cushion costs during economic downturns and to fill skills gaps. A large number of companies (40%) also say that freelance staff offer a larger pool of people to recruit and 38% believe that on-demand workers are more efficient than traditional staff.

what it really is

What’s it really like to be self-employed? Is there any money in it? Is it great to manage your own schedule? How about becoming your own boss? Here’s what you’ll want to know if you’re considering going freelance or adding a side hustle.

Money and job security

According to the Zety study, most gig workers (63%) earn between $7 and $15 an hour, and 61% believe they could be paid more if they worked in a traditional full-time job. Moreover, for 59%, on-demand work is their main source of income, rather than an additional secondary activity.

In terms of financial health, 26% say they don’t have the money they need and 60% say they have enough to cover their expenses, but are unable to save much. In addition, 39% say they face a lack of benefits and 30% a lack of insurance. And 35% struggle with unstable income, with 34% reporting a challenge with the extra costs piling up on out-of-pocket expenses. The stakes are high for the most part, as 52% of gig workers started their jobs out of necessity.

Many people prefer self-employment, but this can also include concerns about job security. 69% of respondents prefer gig work, but 67% are afraid of what the future might bring. Perhaps their financial worries are the reason why 24% plan to quit freelance work and take a full-time job and 54% plan to get a full-time job and continue their gig work as a freelancer. parallel business.

Flexibility and free time

The reasons for accepting a freelance position are varied, but for many it is because of the desire to have more free time (39%) and to have more control over their schedule (34% ).

Indeed, 38% of the self-employed only work 10-20 hours per week and 32% work 20-30 hours per week. Only 3% work 40 hours or more per week. For some, work schedules don’t work as well, with 37% saying unstable work schedules are a disadvantage.


Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of gig work is being your own boss, and 40% of people who started freelancing did so to have that kind of independence. And most gig workers (58%) see independence as the biggest benefit of the model. This is followed by flexibility in when and how they work (50%) and the ability to choose to do a wide variety of work (43%).


Perhaps the most important take-home message is that on-demand work comes with trade-offs. Like many things, it may seem ideal from a distance, but when you understand the details, it may not be as perfect as you thought.

  • Energy and purpose. When you work for yourself, you can choose what you want to work on, and you can invest your efforts in the things that energize you the most. It can be a wonderful thing, but it will invariably involve trade-offs. If you need to work your hours/pay for the month, you may have to accept a job that is not your favorite. Also, if you’re like most construction workers, you’re probably short on work that’s necessary but not your favorite, such as managing your finances in addition to doing graphic design or writing proposals and negotiating deals in more than doing basic coaching work. .
  • Choice and autonomy. Being freelance offers a lot of independence and you can work when and how you want, in theory working only with the best companies and doing only the work you want. But that’s only up to the point where you can pay your bills and make ends meet. You can run your show, but you also need to make sure you make choices that ensure your continued safety.
  • Flexibility. Many people who work for themselves report that although they have more day-to-day flexibility (no one manages if they work or surf on an average Tuesday afternoon), they actually feel more responsible for their work than when employed in a traditional full-time role. If you’re a gig worker, it can be difficult to take time off if you’re in a cycle where you need to earn more jobs to secure a compensation pipeline. Or if you escape and an urgent need arises, you may not have backup support.

In sum

Overall, self-employment or regular full-time work can be more similar than different – with the need to work hard, perform brilliantly, get along with those leading the work, and stay engaged and motivated over time. The best model can change at different stages of life. And perhaps the most important thing is to approach any job with open eyes, seizing the opportunity to use your gifts and talents in a meaningful way and understanding the pros and cons of any approach. .

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