Small Businesses: Don’t Fear the Gig Economy

For decades, visionaries have been forecasting the growth of a flexible workforce. The 1990s brought us the concept of "brand me," where individuals chart their own career and lifestyle rather than relying on their employer. But change has been slow to come by. Today the majority of people continue to work in traditional jobs, working set hours five days a week to earn a paycheck. There is comfort and familiarity in this arrangement for both companies and workers.

The "great recession," however, forced many people to forego their desire for a full time position. With jobs hard to come by, people took what they could get to earn a living. As a result, the number of workers taking on gigs, independent contractor and other non-traditional jobs grew rapidly, rising from 10% of the total workforce in 2015 to 16% today, according to research by Alan Krueger and Lawrence Katz.

Many Millennials grew up with this reality, and are enticed by the flexible work hours and earning potential. And, they have a new option. On-demand companies, such as Uber and TaskRabbit, are growing rapidly, and already account for .5% of the entire workforce. These companies provide the flexibility that the majority of people desire, with the infrastructure that enables an individual to essentially manage their own business.

As a result, a growing number of people are ready to consider working in the gig economy. According to a Beyond survey of more than 5,000 job seekers, 32% of respondents indicated that they would work for an on-demand company and another 36% would consider it. When asked what they found to be “most appealing” about working for an on-demand company, job seekers cited "flexibility" (52%) and "the ability to be my own boss (25%).
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