A Perspective on the Gig Economy

Additional Resources:

Myths of the Gig Economy by David Jolley, Harvard Business Review

Thriving in the Gig Economy by Gianpiero Petriglieri, Susan J. Ashford and Amy Wrzeniewski, Harvard Business Review

What are the Pros and Cons of the Gig Economy? by Peter Swaniker, Forbes


Jason here, and I love to comment on stuff happening in our profession and the trends we see. I want to link up a couple of articles on the gig economy. The gig economy is basically a trend, and a lot of times the demographic of the millennials are given this credit of disrupting corporate America by becoming freelancers, basically is what a gig economy is. Many people, especially creative people, knowledge workers, they’re leaving stable jobs in firms and they’re going out on their own to freelance. That’s a trend and it’s happening more, and more, and more. We run into it in the accounting profession, too. Of course, the creative digital market that we serve in our firm has always seen that as those agencies have to hire contractors a lot of times. We’re seeing some very strong freelancers actually just run their own businesses on their own.

I just want to give some balancing conversations and thoughts to the gig economy. It sounds really cool, but the grass is never always greener on the other side. I want to add a different perspective.

Now I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve been running a company for coming close to 20 years. The gig economy is not something I enjoy as much because I want to build and grow a company with my partner. I want to build something strong with a legacy. What we need is team members that will commit to our firm and make that emotional and mental commitment to us. For example, our firm and the value of what we do for our clients can’t be supported with gig economy workers. We couldn’t hire people and we won’t hire people that are freelancers. We don’t hire people in other countries and things like that. None of that’s bad. We’re just giving our opinion that our firm is built and structured in a way that it doesn’t support a gig economy. I just want to give an opposing view and a balance to that it.

When we hear it trending, we hear it happening a lot, and then we just make a determination that it’s just great and good. I think in some ways, it’s not. There are a lot of people building very strong creative companies and they need people to commit to come into that company and commit to them fully. It makes those companies stronger and they can offer greater value.

Some people can’t work with gig economy workers and freelancers fully. We run into creative company owners all the time and they’re trying to grow and scale their companies. Some of them try to do it on a contractor model, and that’s super hard to do. They eventually have to move towards employees. What’s an employee? Well, it’s the opposite of gig economy. It’s the opposite of a freelancer. It’s somebody you’re saying, “Come back to corporate America,” so to speak. That’s just a balancing component to the gig economy.

I think a lot of times, it’s good to know what is the true desire of the people freelancing or moving out of company. Some are forced out of companies. That’s true. But what is the true desire? It can often be a selfish desire to just do what I want, don’t bother me, don’t mess with me. That’s really avoiding the commitment of things that bring great things in your life. Commitment is the thing that really creates a lot of great strength, stability in life, a balancing of who you are.

Gig economy workers, if they go out on their own, really just want to go surfing. We hear this. They may want to go surfing when they want to surf. Well, that’s going to come with things, too. That lifestyle is going to come with things. You just have to make a choice that the gig economy is not everything. Firms are growing and people need strong people.

Freelancing is great. Contracting is great. The gig economy is a cool move. It really is a really cool move and it creates this market of competitiveness. The competitiveness is not only against people, it’s now, can the structure and culture of your company match what I could have and live in my own lifestyle culture on my own? That’s the competitive nature that we’re now dealing with.

I think it’s great. It makes us, firm owners, creative business owners, build a better firm, a better team, a better culture. I just want to throw that balancing part to the gig economy and would love to hear your thoughts and comments on what you think about the gig economy. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you.

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