Gig economy is about the use of assets in different ways and, basically speakingthe future of work. I can give two quick examples of that. Think about Uber which allows people to turn their private car into a temporary taxi. The common business model for a taxi is quite different. It used to be that taxi had to be a registered vehicle, you have to pay to get the license to become a taxi driver, buy insurance and so on. Now, the technology which has allowed cars to become taxis is part of what explains why people are temporarily becoming taxi drivers.
The second thing which is happening around the world is Airbnb which allows your house to temporarily become a hotel room. Then it allows you to become, temporarily, a hotel owner. This is a really radical new development and it’s actually great because it means we could have much higher capital efficiency. Instead of all these cars lying idle, now they are turned out to be taxis. And when a house which lies empty because its owner is on holiday could be used as a hotel. This is a fantastic development which helps us in getting a much higher utilisation rate out of our assets and it will increase its efficiency greatly.
Next, the gig economy allows everybody to be their own boss and play by their own rules. It is an economy where you have apps that give out jobs like Uber or Airbnb. Workers are changed into freelancers and generally speaking it’s a shift from full-time employment, whether that could be contract workers or temp workers or other things that aren’t traditional jobs. Now it’s much easier to hire a freelancer than it’s ever been before. There are online platforms offering easy ways to search for workers. You can keep track of these people, moreover, if you hire a freelancer you can also watch a video of all the hours that they were working for you on their desktop to make sure that they didn’t do something different while they were supposed to be working for you.
We all know that flexible works have some perks. Some people become more entrepreneurial, they become more creative than in the traditional office. We also know that these jobs, generally, don’t come with sick leave, vacation leave or retirement benefits, healthcare or any other workplace supports. And for many doing this kind of work leaves them in a constant state of uncertainty. So there are some law issues. Generally speaking, the book states the questions who is an employer and who is an employee? What are their obligations and privileges? The problem is there is no clear definition of what makes an employee or what makes an independent contractor. The laws define those differently so it might be different when you are thinking about unemployment insurance or when you are thinking about health insurance.
Anyway, the book follows five gig workers of different ages, different background, urban and rural and how it plays out for them. Some highly successful and some complete failures. If you’re a programmer you just download an app and use your skills, but basically speaking, is not a problem for people who have skills. On the other hand, people who are living in poverty, in small towns, they don’t have high-speed, reliable Internet that works. They don’t have education that allows them to get jobs like engineer, programmer or a social media consultant so they just ended up applying and applying and not getting anywhere. Several of these people were lured by the idea that they were to be their own boss, that they could set their own schedule, things could be very flexible, they could have other passions and interests. Suddenly, many of them are not able to make ends meet, they have to do multiple types of tasks or driving apps. They just try to get everything together when 20 hours per week turn out to be 40 hours per week job.
Sarah Kessler, the author of the book, also dives into how is the gig economy impacting our culture and shapes the future of work. It breaks away from directly employing your janitor and your bus driver and everything that’s been in the works for a long time. Apps that are a part of the gig economy are also a part of the on-demand economy and, certainly, there is a new correlation with which people expect certain things so you only pay for exactly how much you use or get. Furthermore, this whole new trend pushes prices and wages down. It’s never been less expensive to have a personal driver, just press a button on your phone and he will come. The book argues that this is like a royalty feudal system.
Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work
by Sarah Kessler
In the article I made use of a few author’s interviews.
Size: 304 pages
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