A gig economy is an environment in which temporary positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. The trend toward a gig economy has begun. A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 42 percent of American workers would be independent contractors.

For independent contractors, freelancers and the flexible workforce the benefits of slotting in to this new work trend are obvious including; flexible working hours, working from anywhere, avoiding tedious commutes and even working for multiple clients at once either supplementing or increasing their wages.

As people consider new forms of employment, many organisations are turning toward the growing alternative workforce segment too and seeking to hire more workers off their balance sheets as part of a workforce ecosystem. The economics stack up, with companies able to decrease building and office space, and reduce on overall fixed employee costs and taxation. In addition statistics suggest that a more flexible workforce actually works harder and delivers more, probably in part to being able to dedicate the original daily commute time to actual work, and acheive higher levels of concentration through skipping the office banter.

It’s clear that the so-called “gig economy” is here to stay, but we shouldn’t assume it’s a fixed phenomenon. As more people decide to make a living on their own, other entrepreneurs will seek ways to partner with them and give consumers greater access to their products and services. This can increase convenience for consumers, provide more work for contractors, and offer a level of security and reliability that wouldn’t exist without the influence of a third party.

We’ll continue to see platforms like Uber transforming this space, and there will be more and more streamlined ways for customers to do business with dedicated contractors – many of whom are doing independent work full-time.

There’s no doubt we’ll see more mutually beneficial arrangements between independent contractors and companies in the coming years. This will transform a huge range of industries, from driving professions to hospitality and we will begin to see more platforms that connect businesses with these workers.

According to an October 2016 report by the McKinsey Global Institute, there are 162 million people in the U.S. and Europe who did some form of independent work. Despite the perception that many participants in the gig economy are there out of necessity, the report found that 30 percent of independent workers chose to rely on freelancing for most of their income, while 40 percent used it to supplement their primary source of income. In fact only 14 percent were ‘reluctantly’ earning most of their income from freelancing, while 16 percent were being ‘forced’ to do independent work because their regular jobs don’t pay enough.

What this shows is that people are choosing to accept the risks that come with sidestepping traditional employment. These shifts are also being driven by the availability of technology that makes it much easier for independent workers to connect with clients and market their products and services to customers.

We’re entering an era of economic fluidity unlike anything we’ve seen before. The digital economy has produced unprecedented opportunities for consumers, businesses and independent contractors. The best way to take advantage of those opportunities is to embrace the change and established companies shouldn’t fear the gig economy – they should be a part of it.

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Riptec embraces the Gig Economy and supports independent contractors, freelancers and the flexible workforce with their communication and technical needs. One way is by allowing them to utilise multiple phone numbers on their one personal phone, allowing them to manage their communications more professionally without the need for additional equipment or staff.

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