The story of the gig economy commences with the dawn of the 20th Century, when the Great Depression made finding steady work nearly impossible. With the advent of temporary labour agencies in the 40s, the rise of the internet in the 90s and the proliferation of ubiquitous tech platforms of the 2010s, it has only become much easier to be a “gigger”. This ranges from individuals whose work is performed for a predetermined amount of time during the course of a project to a wider range of people whose jobs are made easier by the use of online platforms or technology.
In the latter part of the 2000s, the global outsourcing agenda began to gain traction. Reducing costs was one of the primary goals of this endeavour as it did not make any sense for an organisation to “own” certain resources, whether it be technology or human capital.
It would not be too long before various global crises – the 2008 financial crisis, MERS, Zika, Covid-19 – had implications for the way in which businesses functioned, operated, and managed their staff: the increased availability of and engagement with user-friendly platforms; changing business operating models; the ability to work from anywhere; organisations’ support for a variety of working environments; the liberty and independence afforded to workers to carry out their work responsibilities in the manner and to the extent of their choosing; the notion of income security taking precedence over job security; the melding of business and personal life – all this has unwittingly promoted this style of employment and allowed employees unfettered access to job opportunities that had never before existed. What we are witnessing right now is the aftermath of the proverbial perfect storm.
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The growth of the giggers has been especially notable throughout the last few years: it is anticipated that more than half of the workforce in the United States will be based on gig work by 2030 (up from 36% in 2018). The gig economy is clearly here to stay, as evidenced by projections that this sector will be valued at US$455 billion by 2023, with a CAGR of almost 18%.
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