What Is the Gig Economy?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Sorry, Dolly Parton, but gone are the days of a 9 to 5 work life. And in its stead is the gig economy.

The gig economy is a labor market in which temporary, flexible jobs — via freelancing and short-term contracts — are commonplace. What comes to mind first is the popular ride-sharing apps, Uber and Lyft, which allow drivers who are independent contractors to turn on the app whenever they want and start picking up customers.

You’ve probably noted that both Uber and Lyft are dependent on mobile apps. And while the gig economy isn’t necessarily defined by mobile apps, many companies have built successful businesses using them. Think Postmates, Uber Eats and Bite Squad, all of which deliver food from your favorite restaurants to your doorstep. Or even TaskRabbit or Handy, both apps for odd-jobs, like furniture assembly or cleaning.

What Does That Mean for You?

Whether you’re looking for a side gig or want to follow your dreams, the first step is to download the mobile app of those gigs you’re interested in. The other apps are similar to the ride-sharing ones: hop onto your Kinetic Internet, sign in to whichever app and work when you want. Sounds simple, right?

It’s no wonder that, in 2010, Intuit estimated that more than 40 percent of all workers will be independent contractors by 2020.

The Downside

Before you get the idea that the gig economy is all rainbows and unicorns, think twice about potential challenges.

For one, unlike the typical eight-hour-a-day job that comes with benefits like health insurance, these contracting jobs have no benefits or labor protections.

If you’re planning on using these apps alongside keeping a full-time job, you may not worry about that so much. But if you’re using them to fully supplant a job, just know that you’ll have to do things, like enroll for health insurance on your own.

Another consideration is safety. You’ve probably heard the news stories of run-ins with Uber drivers or Craigslist sellers. You won’t really know what you’re walking into, but there are certain things you can do to keep yourself protected.

As an example, if you’re driving for a ride-sharing space, should something happen during the ride, you can always end the ride at any time. Should the event escalate to a safety hazard, call 911. Other gig apps like Rover, where you can find a dog sitter,  you can schedule an in-person meet and greet before you book the sitter.

Be sure to read through the preferred company’s safety guidelines before signing on, so you know what you’re getting into.

If you’re ready to get started, take a look at this list of 50 best gig economy apps, and download the ones you’re most interested in with your high-speed Internet. Try a few out, and see which best suit you!