What’s the GIG Idea? What You Need to Know About the Gig Economy

Maybe you’ve heard the term “gig economy” for a while now. Maybe you have a general understanding of what it means. Maybe you even sense the seismic shift it is forcing in the world’s business landscape. But what could it mean for you – and for your professional future? Let’s take a closer look and put the gig economy in perspective.

“Gig Economy” Defined

The term “gig” dates to at least the 1920s and was popular amongst jazz musicians as a synonym for a paid performance engagement. In fact, some believe that the music-related use of gig derives from the word engagement. As early as the 1950s, gig expanded to include other short-term jobs, beyond music. Today, it is in common use to denote paid part-time, short-term, freelance, or consulting assignments. Another related type of gig is a fractional time engagement. More about that later.

The gig economy, naturally, describes the segment of the workforce economy related to gig work. It encompasses the sector in which businesses engage with freelancers, consultants, and fractional-time professionals to complete projects and accomplish their goals without engaging these workers as full-time employees. In fact, gig workers in the gig economy are considered independent contractors.

How Big Has the Gig Economy Become?

SmallBusinessGenius, whose stated mission includes providing “up-to-date, accurate, and reliable information,” has rounded up some interesting statistics from notable sources:

  • The Bureau of Labor reported “55 million US gig workers in 2017”
  • In its Gig Economy and Alternative Arrangements study, Gallup reported that approximately 36% (~57 million US workers) are employed independently
  • Forbes has reported that the gig economy workforce has been expanding at three times the rate of the general workforce.

Where is the Gig Economy Headed?

Staffing platform company Wonolo projects that if current trends continue, more than half of the US labor force will be involved in the gig economy by 2027. This is hardly surprising, given recent year-over-year growth.

Another factor that has almost certainly accelerated the growth of the gig economy as a percentage of the overall economy is the Coronavirus pandemic. Job losses in the traditional on-site workforce model have led many to seek and find gig work. With home schooling required in many areas, work-from-home flexibility has become essential for many younger workers. And the general health risks associated with out-of-home work during the pandemic have led other workforce generations to explore their independent work options.

Perhaps ironically, older workers have historically been among early adopters of independent contracting. Retirees not quite ready to fully retire have often taken on consulting gigs. Corporate downsizing has forced many older professionals to consider independent work alternatives as well.

How Can You Participate in the Gig Economy?

An expanding facet of the gig economy is fractional time engagement. This is not necessarily the same as part-time work. Fractional workers tend to be professionals who engage with small to mid-sized businesses a few days a week to help guide new initiatives, launch new products or services, restructure parts of an organization, or implement new strategies and processes.

Fractional time sales leadership consulting is an example of this segment of the gig economy. Sales Xceleration Advisors, for instance, typically serve small to mid-sized businesses as Outsourced VPs of Sales. These OVPS professionals have deep corporate experience and highly coveted skills in sales leadership that can help clients turn around underperforming sales organizations. Because they engage multiple clients, each on a fractional basis, they enjoy more free time, greater flexibility in their commitments, and a healthier work/life balance with more time for friends and family.

The Bottom Line:

The gig economy is here to stay and is rapidly expanding as a dominant force. All generations are participating in the gig economy; and older workers are enjoying rewarding “second acts” as fractional time consultants. To learn more about how to join the gig economy movement via the sales leadership consulting opportunity from Sales Xceleration, click here or contact us today at 844.874.7253.