The so-called gig economy has been around for centuries as companies have often had busy periods where they need to hire labor that can then be laid off in quieter times. The gig economy has been growing in more recent times as companies and workers enjoy the benefits they get from it.
The term gig economy was first used in the jazz age of the 1920s, as musicians would be paid by the gig rather than by the hour. In the post-war period, there was a lot of work available, and it was possible to leave school and go into a job that you then retired from forty years later. This gave workers a lot of stability and a regular paycheck, but it did not give them any flexibility or many opportunities for career development or a change of scenery.
The Late 20th Century
The first temping agencies began opening their doors in the late 1940s to provide businesses with clerical staff. The boom-and-bust cycles of the late 20th century economy saw the agencies flourish, as companies did not always want to employ permanent workers, especially in industries where business was seasonal. During the 1990s, an estimated 10% of workers in America worked for such agencies and the demand for flexible working patterns and non-permanent staff began to grow.
The Modern Age
In the 21st Century, remote platforms such as Craigslist and Upwork began to take off. These offered to match companies with workers who needed the flexibility to opt in and out of the workplace. Companies such as Airbnb and Uber gave people the chance to earn a second income. Workers were often students or people with family commitments who wanted to earn a bit of cash. Others had full-time jobs and wanted additional income to pay off debts or go on holiday. Workers enjoyed the fact that they could dip in and out of this way of earning as they needed to, and companies kept their costs down as they only had to pay for casual labor.
It looks as if the gig economy is here to stay. This way of working is very popular, and people are realizing that they can earn the money they need as well as having the freedom and flexibility to live the lifestyle they want. It is becoming much easier to work in the gig economy too with apps such as Shiftsmart gaining in popularity. This makes it simpler for companies to hire the people they need to work on that day or for the week. It means that workers can pick up assignments just by looking at their phones. The hassle is being taken out of the gig economy and people are enjoying what they are doing so much more now they can make choices and effectively be their own bosses.
The gig economy is set to rise dramatically in the future. It may be that eventually working in the gig economy is the norm and working as a company employee is a thing of the past.