There’s a very strong chance the work you’re doing right now will be unrecognizably transformed in the next 10-20 years, especially if you work in an office.
If you haven’t been replaced by AI or automation, chances are you’ll be working online in a freelance capacity.
Being prepared for this likely future is highly advisable if you want to thrive in the new economy, rather than falling behind a younger, more tech-savvy generation. It’s also a great move for anyone who wants to maximize their earnings and happiness right now.
Here’s what you need to know about the gig economy and working online.
What is the gig economy
You might be skeptical — that’s understandable. Read on and I’ll try and change your mind.
The gig economy simply refers to the recent trend for jobs to be paid on a “per gig basis.” It’s like Uber, which allows drivers to make money by taking on passengers through an app and getting paid for each journey.
In the worst case scenario, the gig economy can be compared with zero hours contracts. There is a real danger that freelancers will end up working for a single company with everything that entails, but none of the stability or rights that come from a full-time contract.
There has understandably been some pushback from the European parliament and other government organizations.
On the other hand, the gig economy has proven highly successful. By decentralizing the business model, customers pay far less for a much quicker and more reliable service. So much so, that old-fashioned taxi firms are already in danger of going extinct. The same thing is happening with companies like Deliveroo.
When done right, the gig economy also has the potential to be highly liberating for professionals. This is especially true when it comes to online, skilled work. Now you can pick and choose the jobs you want to take on, in order to fit your work around your lifestyle.
Let’s say you are a data scientist, a copywriter, a programmer, or a cyber security specialist. Working online in the gig economy would mean taking on freelance jobs with one or several companies, and getting paid for each of them.
This would liberate you to work from home, pick and choose the types of jobs that might help to further your career (or that simply appeal to you), and set your own terms.
Why working online is inevitable
So what makes the gig economy such an inevitable force?
Consider the point of view of a tech company looking for a web designer, or a full stack developer.
This company has two choices: hire local talent, or use a site like UpWork or PeoplePerHour to find a skilled professional online to “rent” on a per-job basis.
In the first scenario, the company needs to go through the lengthy and expensive process of interviewing and training a new employee. It needs to provide desk space, sick pay, and health insurance. At the same time, the “pool” of local talent it has to choose from is limited. This is especially true if it needs a specific type of skilled worker, such as a machine learning researcher.
How many of those do you think are looking for work within a 50-mile radius of where you are right now?
In the latter, a company only pays for the work it needs, and can pick from a gigantic pool of people to find someone with the ideal skillset and experience.
This is what the choice really boils down to:
- Someone who isn’t a perfect fit for the job and involves a lot of expense and commitment
- Someone who is ideally suited for the job, with no strings attached
Today, remote collaboration tools, project management tools, and telepresence, all make working with a distributed workforce not only doable, but optimal. At Android Authority, we do exactly that: we have team members located across the globe, all contributing to projects and discussing ideas and strategies. Countless tech firms do the exact same thing.
How likely is it that businesses are going to continue hiring through traditional channels? How long until the traditional office is an anachronism?
Those who don’t adapt, will likely get left behind.
What does this mean for you?
It’s not just businesses with a strong incentive to switch to this new gig economy model, it can also benefit the rest of us. Sure, there’s a little less job stability, but there is also no earning cap, and you’ll get to keep a much larger slice of the pie.
Why not cut out the middle man altogether? Participating in the gig economy can also mean going direct to customers with a range of services and products. Why work in a gym as a personal trainer when you can do the same thing just as well with customers that you find online? Why work for a web design agency, when you can just become a web designer? Why work for a cut of the profit, when you can choose only the jobs that appeal to you for 100 percent of the proceeds?
We’ve been moving in this direction for a while. These days the average person reportedly changes careers between 3-7 times in their lifetime. Work is becoming increasingly fluid.
More to the point, working remotely and per-gig gives you the flexibility to work around your ideal lifestyle. Just think about how much time you waste every single day traveling to and from the office. Even by working the exact same hours, many people could save hundreds of hours on travel each year.
You’ll be able to take days off when it suits you, or change your hours around as you see fit. You could work an extra two hours Monday to Thursday and take Fridays off. This is called “lifestyle design,” which basically means fitting your job around your life, rather than the other way around.
Where to go from here
It’s important to prepare for this change, and make sure it will ultimately prove positive for you. Remember to bulk up your CV with the right qualifications and experience. You’ll be competing with pretty much everyone else on the web, meaning you need to work even harder to make yourself the perfect candidate. You need to build a personal brand to become that “superstar” companies on the other side of the world want to hire.
Keep it tuned to Android Authority’s new Future Jobs section to learn precisely how to do that and prepare yourself for the brave new world! We’ll be exploring how to make the most of this new economy, and what to make of some of the most promising “future jobs” that you can begin training for right now.