The rise of the gig economy and side gigs (thanks to technology)

Chances are you either have a side gig (a way to make money on the side of your usual job), want to have one, or you benefit from someone else’s. 

While the gig economy has been bubbling away in the background for a while now, it continues to be on the rise, and people are finding new ways to make a bit of extra cash1.

Side gigs aren’t a new concept, but thanks to technology, opportunities are available to more skillsets than ever. In fact, these days, putting your services or wares on the market (whatever they may be) can be as easy as joining the right online marketplace and waiting for a bite.

Why people are taking on more work

In a time-poor world, it’s interesting that people should want to take on more work. The reasons are often as unique as the person, but there seems to be some common themes:

1. For an income boost. Websites like AirTasker and have helped people offer their skills to clients in their own time. Freelance work in particular is on the rise in Australia - according to a study by Upwork, nearly one-third (32%) of working-age Australians freelanced in 20152.

2. To follow a passion. Some people are looking for ways to make extra money from their passion or to test whether it’s worthwhile pursuing full-time. They could be budding designers selling products on sites like Amazon marketplace, YouTube enthusiasts looking for followers, or Instagram influencers posting pictures of themselves in exotic locations.

3. To seize an opportunity. They can be people who have a spare room to offer Airbnb, or entrepreneurs who see a niche opportunity in the market and jump before big businesses do (the popular book ‘Good night stories for rebel girls’ was funded through the kick-starter website and self-published after the authors saw a gap in the market).

4. To test a new business idea. It can feel risky to jump straight into a new business idea. Some people may choose to launch their idea on the side, help them understand the market better, and refine their offer before launching on a larger scale.

And there are plenty of other reasons too - some people might be looking to build their network, to keep learning, or to add more skillsets to their resume.

Why side gigs are a good thing

Gig work can cater to niche needs that bigger businesses might not see as worth their while. They can also bring about competition, providing consumers with more choice, lower costs and better service (think how Airbnb has changed the hotel industry).

What’s more, the growing gig market is connecting people in new ways and bringing local and global communities together via technology. These days it’s much easier to stay at someone’s place in Manhattan, get a uniquely designed gift from the Pilbara, watch how to tie a scarf like a Parisian and get a local tradie to fix your tap at 8pm.

The downsides

As the gig economy grows in popularity, laws and regulations are still catching up. University of Technology Sydney, Future of work research director Sarah Kaine warned in an interview with ABC3, that much of the independent work falls outside the existing labour laws "so they don't have minimum wage provisions… (or) all of the other things that we associate with being an employee.” That includes things like being paid a fair amount, contributing to superannuation, allowances for sick leave, footing the costs for materials, as well as having insurance.

What’s to come

It will be interesting to see how the rise of side gigs will impact the employment market in the coming years. Because one thing is for sure - while the technology’s around, the ability to tap into new markets is only going to grow. We could see new and exciting developments along the way that make life better for customers, and more enriched for those doing the leg work.

More information

If you’re interested in starting your own side gig, you might like to explore more about:

A financial adviser can also help. They can give you a fresh perspective on your current financial position and help you put together a plan to reach your goals.

If you don’t have an adviser, call us on 131 267 or use our find an adviser tool for one near you.

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