By definition, to engage in a GIG is to engage in a short term relationship with an independent contractor. Perhaps, it’s a ride through services such as LYFT or UBER. Maybe you need some work done around the house, so you go to places like Task Rabbit. Businesses use platforms like FIVERR or UPWORK to hire web designers or even bookkeepers.
A lot of amazing benefits have come from these services. Small companies have been able to leverage platforms such as FIVERR to help grow their businesses, receiving fundamental services that they would not be able to afford. Many have been able to utilize platforms such as LYFT to supplement income at a high level of flexibility – all accepted through a single swipe to the left or to the right.
A very, very important discussion has surfaced, as of late. Should these individuals be considered as employees? Are platforms taking advantage of the everyday citizen whose trying to get by in the first place? The answer to that question really depends on how you view these services. Personally, I believe that the answer also depends on the original purpose of why these services were offered in the first place.
I mean who would have thought that we would live in a world that you get in random strangers’ cars? Who would have thought that some people would do all of their shopping on Amazon or have someone pick your order up through SHIPT or Door Dash? Years ago that would have been a far fetched idea. However, now we live in that world.
As a person who has utilized these platforms to make a living, I actually enjoyed the benefits and the flexibility offered through these platforms. It was nice to be able to work two hours, go spend time with the kids, knock out a couple of errands and get back to work. I enjoyed being able to decide my own work schedule, essentially being my own boss. If I had to skip a day or cancel an appointment (within the allotted time), I enjoyed that too. It didn’t hurt that some of these platforms have developed relationships with banking where you receive compensations for your services everyday!
I also know that for every pro, there is the other side. I didn’t receive medical benefits or a 401K plan. I often had to compete for my work – sometimes getting up earlier or working later to ensure that I met my goals for the day. It was a grind at times, and there’s no getting around that. Sometimes, on slow days I would have to work longer to meet my goals. However, I loved being my own boss – and the opportunities through the GIG economy allowed me to be just that!
If these platforms switched to a traditional employee based model, I probably would have taken a HARD PASS on these opportunities. Sure additional benefits and services would be nice. However, the trade-offs outweigh the benefits. Sure, the hourly rate would possibly go up, but the flexibility that I enjoyed would go down. Also, because the compensation is built on supply and demand, I would imagine that being an hourly employee would mean that I would be paid the same regardless of demand. Currently, when demand goes up, so does your earnings!
As the conversation is debated on whether or not the GIG should be a GIG, I would hope that the GIG remains a GIG for many of the benefits mentioned above. If anything, I think that there needs to be specific places on these platforms where one can be on where to find places that offer affordable health care, retirement plans, etc. Legislation is starting to catch up on releasing COVID-19 relief dollars for those who run live off of the GIG economy. More efforts could be made in showing our citizens how to get tax credits and benefits.
Because I always saw these platforms as ways to enter the business world, I would hate to see the GIG economy turn into the everyday 9-5. I would like to see us work to continue to see these platforms and politicians work together in creating even more small business citizens and not take away from this great opportunity!