Technology and the Gig Economy

Be Part of the Change

In 2019, the Bureau of Labor estimated that the percentage of workers involved in the gig economy in the United States would increase to 43% in 2020. But ever since the pandemic hit the world, it’s reasonable to assume that the real number has exceeded those expectations by far, with many full-time employees exploring different options for work.

Today, people with varying skill sets, experience, and levels of education are pursuing non-traditional career paths. The 9–5 office job is on its way to becoming a thing of the past. While the gig economy has existed for more than a century, new technologies have made it all the more possible for workers to thrive in these lines of work and made businesses more able to find the right talent — coinciding with the explosion of this trend.

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What Is the Gig Economy?

The gig economy describes a landscape in which independent workers pursue freelance, part-time, or flexible arrangements and contracts, as opposed to full-time, more permanent positions. Ride-sharing services are one example — drivers are not full-time employees of companies like Uber and Lyft, but they do serve as contractors and are paid by the ride. 


While it’s not necessarily always performed remotely, gig work often takes place off-site. Either way, technology plays a pivotal role in connecting people in this world, helping workers find jobs, and companies or clients find people to perform them.

How Does Technology Make It Possible?

Connectivity and Communication

The gig economy is based on the idea of connecting individuals and the services they need. Through tools like apps, people can book rides, rent out their homes, sell goods, perform odd jobs, and more. These apps often make it possible for clients and customers to chat and communicate with providers — the gig workers — for seamless delivery of goods and services. 

Would-be gig workers can also find jobs and side hustles via apps. For example, TaskRabbit connects people in search of services like moving, shopping, and handiwork with gig workers able and willing to do these short-term assignments.

Communication, too, is more streamlined. Businesses and individuals can communicate with one another from virtually any location, making it possible for companies to find specialized talent that may not be available nearby. If freelancers are working for companies overseas, for instance, they can discuss projects via tools like Skype and Slack.

The Cloud

The advent of cloud computing made it possible for workers to access important programs, files, and other tools that are imperative for doing their jobs, whether they need to track assignments, collaborate on documents, and or manage contacts.

The cloud also helps both contractors and companies access a steady pipeline of talent and work, with information accessible from anywhere with a digital connection. There’s no need to email sensitive documents — the cloud offers security and a repository for files.

Big Data

The explosion of data generated by individuals and businesses allows organizations to assess patterns and behaviors in prospective workers. This lets them better identify prospective workers with the skills and talents they need to complete specific projects. 

This benefits not only the hiring organizations, which can more easily and quickly find the right fit for positions, but also the workers themselves, who will stand out to recruiters based on qualities those agencies are looking for. This is particularly helpful for gig workers, who need to ensure a good fit for temporary and short-term assignments so they build a good track record and secure future clients and customers.

Artificial Intelligence

Some people worry that technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) will make human workers obsolete in certain industries. However, in many cases, AI can actually work with employees rather than replace them entirely. 

In the gig economy, for example, staffing agencies can better match workers to gigs, or automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) can comb through resumes to find the best fits. Or, in the sharing economy, AI can help match gig workers to clients and assignments based on various criteria laid out by the client or customer.

Blockchain

Blockchain, an immutable, decentralized ledger that facilitates safe and quick transactions between parties, is one important tool that can be used to help protect gig workers. The technology is already affecting myriad industries.

Because the nature of this work depends on short-term assignments and is often not governed by an overarching contract, gig workers and their clients may fear that a breach of trust may occur, with the worker not delivering the agreed-upon results or the client not paying the agreed-upon price. Blockchain technology, however, will allow workers and clients to establish unchangeable contracts, verify skills and credentials, and perform quick, seamless transactions.

Mobile Technology

Mobile technology, in many ways, is at the very heart of the gig economy. It’s true that gig work has existed for a long time, but it couldn’t be what it is today without mobile devices. We’ve discussed how apps fuel connectivity between workers and clients, but mobile technology contributes to the gig economy in many other ways, too.

Using the GPS on their phone, for example, ride-share drivers can identify where riders need to be picked up and how the drivers can get to their destination. Riders can also text or call their drivers while they’re en route through a number provided by the service, protecting both parties’ privacy. Meanwhile, a home sharer can share their location with a renter so they can find the residence easily.

Technology has fundamentally changed and empowered the gig economy. As new technologies and possibilities emerge, we can expect this world of work to expand even further.

Are you a business leader looking to leverage the gig economy in your line of work? BairesDev can help you create custom platforms and tools to tap into this important resource, from mobile apps and platforms to cloud computing solutions to means of communication. Contact us today to find out more.

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