Bermudians are no strangers to the “side hustle”. Many of us juggle multiple jobs, working freelance out-of-hours to make ends meet in paradise. This way of working has a fancy new branding as it becomes increasingly ubiquitous: it’s now known as “the gig economy.”
Next year, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) will be running a seminar entitled “Leveraging the Gig Economy”. In light of this announcement, we thought we’d provide a little introduction to the gig economy, and explain how workers can make the most of this new landscape.
What exactly is “the gig economy”?
The gig economy refers to an environment in which companies offer temporary jobs to independent contract workers on-demand. This way of working is far more flexible. It allows workers to have more control over their workflow, while entrepreneurs can build their workforce with reduced overheads.
The gig economy becomes popular in recent years, but post the COVID outbreak, it has seen a real boost. People’s main sources of income are not as stable as they once were. This is particularly true on our island where a significant chunk of our GDP comes from tourism – an industry particularly hit by the pandemic. Meanwhile, small businesses can cut their running costs by only hiring workers as and when they need them.
One of the draws of the gig economy for workers is its simplicity. If you have a particular skill, you can sell your services and earn some extra money. It’s a real lifeline for people whose livelihoods are in jeopardy.
Whether through choice or necessity, some people are throwing the towel in on traditional employment altogether, and are working the gig economy to their advantage.
In today’s post, we’re looking at the benefits and challenges the gig economy poses to the workforce.
Benefits of The Gig Economy
No clocking in and out:
Working for yourself means you’re no longer a slave to the 9-6 working schedule. You dictate your own hours and can work flexibly around your other responsibilities. Are you a night owl? Shift your schedule to meet your preferences. Need to pick up your kid from school in the afternoon? No worries. As long as you meet your deadlines, you can manage your time to suit your lifestyle.
Control your workflow:
You can decide how many gigs you take on at once. As long as you are earning enough to sustain yourself and your family, you have the freedom to choose more or fewer gigs to suit the level of work you feel comfortable with. If you want to give your career a boost, you can work hard for several months, and then take your foot off of the accelerator when you feel it’s time to ease off.
Choose your own projects:
Job satisfaction is more and more important for today’s workforce. In traditional employment, you have no say over which projects you get. Work can become repetitive over time, which can affect not only your enjoyment but your productivity.
Once you’ve established yourself in the gig economy, you can choose the projects that excite you most, and add variety to your workload.
Challenges of The Gig Economy and Solutions
Challenge 1: Lack of routine
The flipside of having so much flexibility to your workday is that you run the risk of never separating your home and work life. It can be hard to define when your workday starts and ends.
Solution: Decide on a routine and stick to it
It’s ok to vary your workflow from day-to-day, but make sure you actively schedule in “off-time” to rest and take care of yourself.
Challenge 2: Less stability
When you start out working as a freelancer, it takes time to build up a client base and a reputation within your industry. Your income can vary significantly month-to-month. This can leave you feeling very vulnerable.
Solution: Build good relationships with your clients
In the gig economy, reputation is everything. Your performance will not only dictate whether you are rehired by your current clients, but they can also leave reviews for prospective clients. If you work on developing good relationships, the payoff is cumulative and your income becomes more stable.
Challenge 3: Admin, accounting and marketing
As soon as you work for yourself you have to quickly get to grips with administration and marketing your services.
Use online tools to help you
Luckily, apps have been developed to help freelance workers. Quickbooks Inuit helps you to keep your books accurate and send professional invoices quickly and easily in multiple currencies.
As for marketing, Local Bermuda is here to help facilitate freelance service professionals to connect with clients here in Bermuda. Download our newly launched app here to get started.
A Workplace Revolution
The shift to the gig economy is nothing short of revolutionary – changing the way both businesses and employers live and work. It’s ultimately up to each of us to adapt and evolve to meet new circumstances. Whether or not it is your choice to leave traditional employment, you can make the gig economy work to your advantage.