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What Is the Gig Economy (and How to Hire in It)?

If you’re looking to hire someone to complete basic tasks for a temporary time period, consider employing gig workers. There are numerous businesses that rely on gig workers to increase their company’s efficiency and productivity levels. Learn more about what the gig economy is, how it works, the pros and cons of hiring gig workers and tips to follow when hiring in the gig economy.

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What is the gig economy?

The gig economy refers to temporary and flexible jobs, rather than traditional full-time jobs that consist of the basic 9 to 5 schedule. Gig workers are individuals who pursue these types of jobs, often applying for temporary independent contractor or freelance positions. Many of these employees prefer to work on their own flexible schedules in a variety of environments.

How the gig economy works

Most jobs in the gig economy focus on completing smaller tasks that aren’t as high-level as what many full-time employees complete. There are a wide variety of fields and jobs gig workers can operate in, from freelance content writers to delivery drivers. Employers may hire gig workers to serve in shifts for a certain number of hours, or they work on a project-by-project basis. Some companies hire gig workers to complete certain tasks, then they’ll move onto the next gig once they finish these tasks.

There are numerous ways workers can balance their gigs. Some have a full-time role where they work traditional hours in the office. Once that shift is over, they’ll work their gig for a few hours in the evening to earn extra cash. Some workers complete multiple gigs that equal to a full-time role. Most companies that hire these workers don’t often employ them full-time, so company benefits and perks aren’t typically offered to them.

Pros and cons of hiring gig workers

There are several advantages and disadvantages to hiring gig workers at your company, including:


Potential advantages to hiring gig workers:

  • Reducing costs:Hiring gig workers means you don’t have to pay full-time wages, paid time off, health insurance coverage or onboarding costs. You mainly have to pay them hourly or after they complete each project. This essentially saves you money that you would’ve spent hiring a full-time employee.
  • Scaling your company quickly:If your business is still growing and you don’t yet have the office space or budget to hire full-time employees, gig workers are a great way to scale your business, finish tasks and meet goals while saving time, money, equipment and office space.
  • Hiring a diverse group of flexible workers:The gig economy opens you up to opportunities to hire a wide variety of individuals with unique skill sets, available to work various shifts. Some workers pursue your role as a side gig, so they’re available to work nights and weekends when your full-time staff is unable to.

Related:What Is a Contingent Worker?


Potential disadvantages to hiring gig workers:

  • Risks hiring unreliable workers:Since gig workers are completing responsibilities for your company temporarily, they aren’t often contractually obligated to your company. This means if they’re let go for finishing a task incorrectly, they serve little to no repercussions and can simply move on to a different gig.
  • Includes workers who have less advanced skill sets:Most gig workers serve in a variety of positions performing different tasks. Though it could mean they have many skills, these skills could be less advanced than most, so they’re usually only able to complete basic responsibilities.
  • Requires complex contractor paperwork:Each state has different rules and regulations regarding gig and contract workers. Many of them require specific types of paperwork to be filed for contract and freelance workers. These can be challenging to organize and maintain for smaller businesses that don’t have the staff to handle these items for them.

Industries that hire gig workers

Gig workers serve in a variety of different fields and industries, completing various tasks and responsibilities. Common industries gig workers are hired in are:

Technology and IT

Many companies in the technology and IT field hire gig workers to perform internet security and computer repair tasks. These employees can work from home or come into the office during certain shifts. They’ll answer calls to assist customers with their computer issues or they’ll perform IT and computer system fixes to the office’s computers and devices.

Content creation and writing

Several writers serve as freelancers. Many of them connect with businesses through online communication. They’ll typically be asked to complete certain content projects and are paid on an hourly or project-by-project basis. Most freelance content writers will either complete projects for several companies at a time, or they may work a full-time career and conduct writing tasks on the side.

Software engineering and development

Some gig workers design a company’s software and computer programs. They’re able to do this either from home on a flexible schedule or they’ll come into the office to build and test various computer programs and applications.

Administrative and clerical work

When you have smaller clerical tasks to complete, gig workers can do these for you either from their computer, acting as a virtual assistant. They could also come into the office a few times a week to file documents, schedule meetings or make travel arrangements.

Transportation and delivery

Many businesses in the food industry hire gig workers to deliver food on their own time. Workers can decide to work certain shifts whenever they need extra money and will make deliveries for as long as their schedule allows. Others may work for transportation companies, offering rides for customers to and from certain locations.

Tips for hiring in the gig economy

Follow these tips to help effectively hire gig workers:

Prepare your 1099 form

While most full-time employees need W2 tax forms, freelance and contract employees work as a 1099 contractor for a single company. These workers don’t have their income tax withheld from their paychecks like your full-time team does. They usually have to set aside a portion of their paychecks to go toward their taxes.

Research freelance sites to locate talent

When you’re ready to hire gig workers and self-employed individuals, it’s important to know where to find them. Research credible freelance and contract sites to find quality gig workers looking for a new company to work with. Some of these websites allow you to set up payments directly through their site to streamline the payment process.

Offer a great employee experience

To get more gig workers to join your company and to build your reputation as a great company to work for, provide a great employee experience from start to finish. Create job ads that detail your company values and culture, then make sure to maintain a professional relationship with these workers once they’re hired. Clearly communicate job duties to them and provide praise when they complete tasks correctly to ensure your workers receive a great experience with you.

Gig workers can enhance your efficiencies and complete many tasks for you. Make sure you treat them with respect and professionalism upon hiring them.

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