What’s The Fuss About The Gig Economy And How To Thrive In It?

In a digitally-driven world, the abundance of digital platforms offering various products and services has reshaped the future of work. Today, the idea of a working a 9-5 job in the same organisation for 15 years or even until retirement may be a thing of the past rather than the reality.

The term ‘gig’ is a slang word which means “a job for a specified period of time” and encompasses temporary or short-term employment ranging from freelancers to project-based workers and even part-time hires. Millennials seem to be the front runners of the gig lifestyle due to the freedom to choose where, how and when they work. Popular ‘gigs’ include gaining an income from renting out spare rooms on Airbnb, collecting fares from Grab and even selling products on platforms such as Lazada and Carousell.

In Malaysia, according to the World Bank data, about 26% of the Malaysian workforce are freelancers and the number is expected to increase, as more people are opting for more flexible working hours. On a global scale, McKinsey & Company in its report – A labour market that works: Connecting talent with opportunity in the digital age reveals that the gig economy could add US$2.7 trillion per year or 2% to the global economy in 2025.

However, it takes a lot to succeed as a freelancer or gig economy worker. Future graduates need to cultivate the right mind-set and skills (often technology-related) to thrive in this new economy.

Here are some useful tips to bear in mind to survive this new wave and future of work.

1. Market your skills

Marketing yourself does not mean being obnoxious. The goal should be to put yourself out there to grab the opportunities which may be a perfect fit for you so that you are not forced to take on work that you clearly do not want to do.

Create a professional page of yourself on LinkedIn or register/upload your resume to online job platforms such as JobsBAC featuring part-time job opportunities. More often than not, these platforms perform a dual function ie advertising job vacancies as well as connecting prospective employers or recruiters with the right talent.

When creating your profile, do sufficient research and remember to include common catchphrases or terms used to define your skills within the industry.

2. Think like a boss (cos’ YOU’RE THE BOSS!)

We often come across people who say, “I wish I were my own boss”. Truth be told, to survive as in the gig economy world, you need to have a wide range of skills as a boss.

Tech literacy, financial  and tax planning is helpful. Setting performance goals and conducting your own annual performance review will not only help you determine whether you are gaining revenue, it may also help you assess what more is required to be done to leverage on your existing skills or even set aside time to upskill yourself.

Developing business acumen and being proactive by anticipating challenges and the ability to formulate feasible solutions shows that you are capable of being a go-to person for a particular type of project or assignment.

3. Staying connected is essential

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, successful gig economy workers were those who developed four types of connections – place, routines, purpose and people.

Place

Unlike a full-time job generally based in one office, gig economy workers are expected to be more mobile and move around from one place to another. However, it’s crucial to your productivity that you identify a place or co-working space that is dedicated to working and minimizes distractions.

Routines

Cultivating your own routine helps you stay focused and perform better. Planning your day by having a to-do list enables you to allocate sufficient time for more challenging assignments and determine what time in the day you work the best to achieve the best results and gain more employment opportunities.

Find a routine that works for you and have the discipline to maintain it.

Purpose

Working towards a greater purpose increases motivation.  It may not be a simple process to balance the need to make a living with the desire to work towards goals that align with your personal and ethical choices but the more you attempt to do so, the more successful you’ll be.

People

Networking is not just about socialising and having fun while at work, it is essential to advance your career. You could learn many useful tips and gain current knowledge about the industry from people in the field, friends and even colleagues by cultivating healthy work relationships. Build a good reputation and maintain your personal brand by finishing each assignment you started and be a model gig economy worker with the likelihood of you being recommended to other hiring managers.

4. Don’t take it personally

Let’s face it, you may not get every job that you applied for and that is perfectly fine! Always keep an open mind, be persistent and maintain professionalism simply because you never know when the right opportunities will come knocking on your door.