Navigating the Gig Economy – Part 1

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.”
~ Gilda Radner


Welcome to 2017 and the start of an uncertain future…I don’t know of any time where the future has been “certain” but there were periods in the past (and applicable to some places and peoples, to be completely honest) where things seemed much more predictable that they look now.

Uncertainty can be frightening and paralyzing but can also be an opportunity to ground yourself into what’s always “certain”: that as long as you are alive and here, you have a choice. The choice of being intentional and proactive instead of reactive, the choice to respond in a way that works for that you believe on.

One of the trends we have been witnessing in the last decade is the emergence of the “Gig Economy”: more and more jobs are now contract, part-time, outsourced or project-based.

For employers, paying workers to stay 9-5 with no guarantee (or need) for productivity is becoming more and more disadvantageous. Contracting people for what needs to be done saves them time and money as there is no need to pay for benefits, vacation, employment insurance and the like.

Automation, demographics, trading and outsourcing are also factors affecting worker stability, and that without going deeper and mentioning the real limits to grow at the resource, energy and financial levels or the more social and psychological nature of boredom, skills gap or mismatch, lack of motivation, abuse and oppression, etc.

For workers, the Gig Economy can be a real challenge, especially in the case of vulnerable workers such as people with disabilities or chronic conditions, low skilled workers, women, seniors and people from minority groups such as immigrants, refugees and people from the LGTB communities. These are sectors of the population who have always experienced instability and uncertainty in their jobs. The Gig Economy has the potential to make things worse for them, but also to give them tools to empower themselves.

The Gig Economy is not new: we always had contract and temp jobs in the past. What’s new is the trend for these practices increasing…and showing no signs of going anywhere soon.

While “stable” jobs are not going to disappear, they are being reduced. Different studies predict that in the next decades (if we survive climate change, resource depletion, social, economic and financial issues and the like), between 40% and 60% of the population may be engaged in some sort of “Gig Economy”. This includes social entrepreneurship and small business in general.

If you still believe in the formula “Go to School, Get a Job+Get Married, Make a Career, Buy a House+Car+Form a Family, Retire and Enjoy”, your expectations may be shattered by the realities of the Gig Economy. Most people alive today has already have two or more jobs, those in their 20’s or 30’s can expect to change jobs at least twice per decade, if not more…salaries are stagnant and benefits are being reduced or completely dismantled.

For many, however, the Gig Economy may be a door to enjoying life in a very different way and the liberation from the enslaving 9-5 job. If designed and planned, the Gig Economy can give you time off between gigs to explore Nature and your inner world, enjoy quality time with friends and family, contribute to your community and support others in their life paths. The Gig Economy also gives you the opportunity to explore different career paths, work in different areas of interest and develop diverse skills instead of being attached to one sector, profession or occupation your whole life!

The Gig Economy has also another potential: to re-build our local economies and communities in a very different, more sustainable way and to take advantage of the many gifts each one of us brings to this world.

Diane Mulcahy, author of “The Gig Economy” and lecturer of a course of her own creation and with the same name, has developed a set of “Ten Rules” to succeed in the Gig Economy.

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be posting my own interpretation of these “rules” as a preparation for my presentation at the BCCDA 2017 Conference for Career Development Practitioners.

If you are a Life or Career Coach or someone who has been affected or is curious about the Gig Economy, you may want to start following these postings. You’ll find my own twist (I am a career and life coach myself with a twist that embraces an eco-psychology approach), which includes my studies and activism around transition out of fossil fuels, climate change, resource depletion, social justice and permaculture, among other areas of interest.





One Comment on “Navigating the Gig Economy – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Navigating the Gig Economy – Part 2 – What is Success? | Silvia Di Blasio

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