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The gig economy is coming – are you prepared for the new reality?

Posted by: ADP on 7 April 2017 in Human Capital Management, Human Resources, Innovation & Technology, Multinational & Globalization

Working from the comfort of your living room, with a cup of coffee and slippers on, ready to tackle your next task. No commute, no problem – or so may be the popular perception of a freelance lifestyle. New technology and the increase in flexible working practices have resulted in the rise of the so called “gig economy”, providing people with the ability to choose a different way of life.

According to our latest research, The Workforce View in Europe in 2017, self-employment and freelancing are growing in popularity as career options. Two thirds of European employees are interested in, or would consider, freelancing or self-employment, with more than a quarter saying they are actively planning a move in this direction. Gig jobs are particularly popular among millennials, with 80% of 16-34 year olds saying they are interested in this option, and close to 40% actively considering making the shift.

This is mainly being driven by the popularity of flexible working. Less than half of employees (46%) say their preference is to work from one fixed location, such as an office, while the majority would rather work from a mixture of locations or from home. Similarly, a third of employees would like to work flexible hours, while a further fifth are keen to have total choice over their working hours. Another key factor is achieving a better work-life balance, with 28% of employees saying that this is what really motivates them.

Should I join the gig economy?

Becoming your own boss is now easier than ever before, with the explosion in “on-demand” services such as Uber, TaskRabbit and Freelancer.com. However, qualifications, competition and bid structures should be taken into consideration. It is also worth taking a closer look at the pros and cons to understand whether freelance or self-employment is really right for you. The downsides include a lack of legal rights and employment benefits, from holiday to sick pay and pension. While a steady pay cheque and employment stability do have their benefits, a high percentage (75%) of those who are already self-employed report high levels of job satisfaction.

Before making the leap to a freelance career you should ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there a market for what I do and who am I up against?

  • Do I have a potential list of clients I can work with?

  • Am I financially stable enough to embark on this journey?

  • Do I understand the business and regulatory landscape of setting up a company?

  • How will I plan for retirement and potential health issues?

  • Would an alternative such as a flexible or part-time contract with my current employer be a better fit?

What are the wider implications?

While being able to work when, where and how you want may seem like the ideal working arrangement, the reality of it may not be as stress-free as it first sounds. In fact, is the increase in self-employment a route people have chosen themselves – or does this reflect the fact that traditional salaried jobs may be diminishing, forcing people to create their own jobs? During times when there is a lack of opportunity in the employment market, we often see an increase in workers being obliged to consider different options to make ends meet.

From an employers’ perspective, there is no hiding from the rising tide of flexible working demands. Offering flexible working arrangements can help to combat stress, improve employee morale and boost productivity. At the same time, the ability to tap into a wider pool of candidates when you need it provides new opportunities to bridge any skills gaps. Legacy systems may be a barrier initially, but as the workforce is changing – is your organisation ready to do so?

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