The gig economy, or the times they are a changin’

The gig economy, or the times they are a changin’

My father was a lawyer and my mother was an artist, so I did not really experience it in my own family, but I know that there was once a time when people started working for a company and stayed with the same company until the end. This was not only true for Turkey, but for the world, especially in Japan. The Japanese considered it a shame to be fired or to move to a rival company out of monetary incentives. But today’s world is very different. People now move from one company to another with ease; it is even considered a positive thing if you have seen a different company culture by the time you are 30 years old. 

These days, however, we are witnessing a complete revolution in working culture. The change is faster and more fundamental. The Internet has made the middle man disappear in many industries, and it is doing the same to human resources. People who are signed in to freelancer marketplaces can find jobs all around the world and earn better doing only the things that they love, wherever they are. It is even possible to work from different countries too. Cheap air fares, Airbnb, and shared office spaces (such as Kolektif House in Turkey), have made it possible for a person to move to a different country in a few days – at a fraction of what it used to cost 10 years ago. 

This freelancer-based job market is called the “gig economy.”

According to BBC, In the U.K., the number of self-employed people has risen to nearly five million, approaching the number who work in the public sector. In the U.S., around 54 million people are now freelance, roughly a third of all workers.

PeoplePerHour, an online freelance marketplace, forecasts that one in two people in the U.S. and the U.K. will be freelance by 2020.

And the market for gig economy platforms and related services will be worth almost $63 billion globally by 2020, PwC forecasts. In 2014, this global market was valued at $10 billion.

Fortune has reported that independent contractors do, in fact, overwhelmingly prefer the setup that they have, according to new research by Harvard’s Lawrence Katz and Princeton’s Alan Krueger. By contrast, the vast majority of people employed by temp agencies would rather have a different work situation.

Katz and Krueger have been studying temps, contract company employees, freelancers, and others in so-called alternative work arrangements. In late March, the two economists made a splash when they reported that those engaged in these forms of work now constitute about 16 percent of the American labor force, up from 10 percent a decade earlier and 9 percent 20 years ago. (Interestingly, given all the headlines they grab, online “gig economy” jobs at Uber, TaskRabbit, and the like register barely a blip — just 0.5 percent of the workforce.)

If we include entry-level temporary construction jobs or temporary farming jobs, the Turkish freelance economy would probably resemble that of the U.S. However, the change we are talking about - which comes with the Internet and easier travel - is affecting more educated workers with unique knowledge or experience in their expert areas. That’s why Hayal Koç from Expertera says she is proud to support this economy and see a growth in her business every year. 

So if you are also bored of your job and want to work on your terms, hop on the wagon of the “gig economy” - there are plenty of jobs waiting to be done all over the world.