Love it or hate it, the gig economy is here to stay – and it’s more widespread than official data suggests. It’s also not just Uber drivers or Airbnber’s. There’s a growing stratum of higher-paid “gig consultants” i.e. people who may have worked at McKinsey but are now working as freelancing corporate advisers.
Per a recent Financial Times study, only 5% of independent consultants say they are dissatisfied with their role and, on almost every criterion, independent consultants rate themselves more satisfied than the control group of those who have never worked as freelancers.
Having been an independent consultant since before the term “gig economy” was invented, I can vouch both for how satisfying it is to be your own boss and also for how stressful income volatility can be. But in the end, most of the consultants I know would rather have their freedom and flexibility than be tied to a corporate job. As gig consultants, we do not generally make as much money as those working at one of the big consulting firms but we still make plenty and it seems we are happier and more satisfied with our workaday lives.
Read on below for more info on the gig economy including a new global McKinsey study on gigging, more from the FT’s study and a great piece in techcrunch on how the government’s refusal to recognize the workforce of the 21st century is stifling the economy and hindering innovation.
A recent McKinsey Global Institute report notes that most people are happy to be “gigging,” although 30% (generally people from poorer households) are doing it as a last resort.
The study split the independent workers into four segments:
- 30% were “free agents” who actively choose independent work and derived their primary income it
- 40% were “casual earners” who used independent work to top up their income by choice
- 14% were “reluctants” who made their living from independent work but would prefer traditional jobs
- 16% were “financially strapped” and topping up their incomes out of necessity.
The Financial Times survey painted seven “portraits” of independent consultants:
- Young stars
- Family-balance seekers
- Experienced classics (such as ex-partners who trade on their expertise)
- Soft landers (gliding to retirement on the back of occasional projects)
- Bridgers – who want mostly to return to corporate roles
- Strugglers – who miss the corporate community, and earn the same or less as when they were part of it
Techcrunch just ran an excellent piece on how the government’s refusal to recognize the workforce of the 21st century, i.e. the rise of independent contractors, is stifling innovation and hurting the economy and workers. If you’re a freelancer or gig worker this is definitely worth a read.