Does the Gig Economy Work for You?

Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, Upwork, Postmates, Instacart, DoorDash, Grubhub and other on-demand delivery, rideshare companies have some of the most anticipated future IPOs that make investors salivate. They also are all members of the new freelance, self-employed and no-minimum hours sector often called the gig economy.

This workforce is growing rapidly all over the world as how workers engage with the economy have shifted dramatically. Today workers not only tele-work and tele-commute but also consult and provide services in multiple and flexible ways.

But what exactly is the gig economy? What are its plusses and minuses for the average worker?

A clear definition has proven difficult. Freelancing, self-employment and no minimum to the required hours of work: None of these terms entirely encapsulates the phenomenon. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) of the U.K. says, "The gig economy can be defined as a way of working that is based on people having temporary jobs or doing separate pieces of work, each paid separately, rather than working for an employer." The Oxford Dictionary of English says, “A labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.”

The website has perhaps the most comprehensive definition:

A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements … Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.