The (Super) Powers of the Gig Economy

Today’s post comes courtesy of Melissa Garretson, &Marketing copywriter and long-time member of the gig economy. Curious how &Marketing’s team of experts can help your business? Let’s talk.

I miss going into an office sometimes. I miss putting on a slick suit and a pair of power heels to click-clack my way into a well-lit bastion of commerce. I miss stopping to chat with Mike in accounting, waving to Carol in payroll, and taking a break to dash into the lounge for a cup of coffee and a distractible ear. There’s a satisfying sense of camaraderie in a well-run office, mostly because you spend more time with the folks there than with the people to whom you are legally and preferentially bound. The physical office is also a great place to see and be seen as one attempts ascension of the corporate ladder. So yes, I do miss the office sometimes.

These days, my commute is a lot better. My corner office was once a guest bedroom and although there’s no Mike or Carol, my cats like to make special appearances on conference calls. The gig economy is gaining momentum as more and more successful and capable experts discover the joys of working in their workout clothes, and more and more companies see the benefits of hiring these pajama-clad professionals. Of course, this new economy is more than those working out of homes. You can find freelancers and contract employees filling nearly every role in every industry. Today’s worker bees are no longer anticipating a lifetime of working in one office, for one company. Instead, they’re expecting a diverse and varied career where they can hone their skills, choose their employers, and rise or fall on the waves of a meritocratic, assignment-based system.

Independent contractors may not be faster than a speeding bullet, but the gig economy does have a few impressive superpowers:

Cost Efficiency

Not only do companies save on overhead and HR benefits, they can immediately adjust personnel as needs ebb and flow. There are bound to be times an in-house employee is overwhelmed, underutilized, or just plain lazy. As a freelancer, I am my own boss and my boss knows all my tricks. If I waste time I end my day with nothing to deliver and nothing earned. It really is about efficiency—according to Inc., typical employees are only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes of every 8 hour work day. When you hire by gig, you’re paying for only those 2 hours and 53 minutes. I can watch cat videos on my own time.

Caveat emptor, however. A quick online query displays an incredibly wide range of fees for every service. Some freelancers are inexpensive due to inexperience—they could be great if given the opportunity. Most bargain contractors, however, are just… not good. Companies hiring solely by price typically end up engaging a second professional to clean up the first’s work. The safest, most time-efficient bet is to work with a respected firm the first time and utilize the vetted and screened professionals in their employ.

Access to Experts

Imagine a world where writers write, graphic designers design, coders code, and widget makers make widgets. That certainly isn’t your typical workplace. Most in-house employees are jacks-of-all-trades, whether they want to be or not. Businesses can’t afford to staff true experts in every area of their company, it would be incredibly cost-prohibitive. There are, however, many true experts looking for a gig here and there. Outsourced firms are a business’s best friend when it comes to matchmaking talent and project. “Things change on a week-to-week basis,” asserts &Marketing Managing Director Rajat Kapur. “We’ve nurtured a contractor bench of more than three dozen experts who can come in relatively quickly, understand a client’s challenges, and provide really good quality work. This flexibility makes a huge difference to our clients and to our bottom line.” If a client needs a copywriter, great—there’s an award-winning one available for up to ten hours next week. And when, in the following week, they no longer need the copywriter but are looking for a PR person, the roster is searched and the perfect person is found. Best of all, these experts often have experience with hundreds of companies in dozens of industries, giving them perspective and insights the average industry-leader can’t fathom.

Reduced Risk

Of course, sometimes the exact right person isn’t exactly right after all. It happens (I even had my doubts about Mike in accounting, but that’s neither here nor there). Companies realizing they’ve made a bad hire are in quite a pickle: do you forfeit all the time spent hiring and training someone, prepare yourself for the exit interviews, and jump the HR hoops that must be jumped, or just deal with an ineffective employee? Hiring a freelancer is the lowest risk option. If you’re unhappy with the work, all you have to do is not hire that freelancer again. That’s it. Of course, freelancers understand this and have a vested interest in producing work that will get them hired again and again—our pay is directly correlated to our client’s satisfaction.

I may occasionally miss my office, but the pros of freelancing far outweigh the cons. I’ve worked with everyone from software and jewelry designers to packaging and Hadoop engineers. I’ve stretched my skills and broadened my horizons and never missed an elementary school event. Best of all, I know I’ve crafted quality content for people I genuinely respect. Nice work if you can get it.

I wonder if Mike and Carol need a gig?


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InsightsMelissa Garretson