The Gig Economy, by Diane Mulcahy ISBN 9780814437339
Five out of five stars
The gig economy is the new normal and is defined as the situation where fewer and fewer people have traditional full-time jobs with benefits such as health insurance and accrued pensions. Those jobs are being replaced by workers being hired for the duration of the job, sometimes with some form of limited benefits, but most of the time with nothing in the way of benefits. Even full-time jobs have largely been altered so that company pensions are replaced by individual retirement accounts.
Since this is the reality, you have two coping choices, either complain about it and hope you are one of the lucky ones to snag a traditional job or learn to live and thrive in the new environment. If you make the decision, this book will help you deal with the latter.
The good news about working in the gig economy is that you have much more control over your personal and professional life. This allows you to somewhat control the amount of work you do and manage your retirement funds the way you want them invested. You are no longer at the mercy of a superior that fails where employees take the fall or face the risk of suddenly being told that you are no longer needed.
The bad news is essentially the same list. It is your responsibility to find the work, invest and manage your retirement funds and when something goes wrong, the mirror is the only place to direct your ire. It can be very stressful and you can end up working a lot more. When I was investigating the tactics of going into the gig economy many years ago, the literature was unanimous in saying that you do not do it unless you can survive for a year with no income from your new business.
The author does a very good job in setting the historical and economic context for the development of the gig economy. It is the consequence of many economic forces, from the rise of globalism to the new technological features that allow for the creation of on-demand services such as Uber. This is a critical feature, for it gives the reader the background knowledge to understand why it is happening. Of course, this is the easy part.
The hard part is giving the reader sound advice in how to operate in the environment of the gig economy. To the extent that it is possible, the author succeeds in this as well. Operating in the gig economy is extremely complex and each worker’s situation is unique, so only general principles have value.
As a person that has generally worked in the gig economy for nearly 20 years, I have extensive firsthand knowledge of how to thrive/survive in what is the new reality for most. If you are a worker in the new gig economy or are either planning or being forced into it, this is a resource that will do a great deal in helping you cope.