Thriving in the Gig Economy  

Comments Off on Thriving in the Gig Economy  
Thriving in the Gig Economy   LoadingADD TO FAVORITES

“Have you ever been on a trapeze?” That’s how Martha, an independent consultant, responded when asked to describe her work in the five years since she’d left a global consulting firm to set out on her own.  She had recently tried learning about being a trapeze artist, which she saw as a good metaphor for her life: the void she felt when between assignments; the exhilaration of landing the next engagement; the discipline, concentration, and grace that mastering her profession required. Trapeze artists seem to take huge risks, she explained, but a safety system, including nets, equipment, and fellow performers, supports them.  “They appear to be on their own, but they’re not.”

Martha is part of a burgeoning segment of the workforce loosely known as the gig economy. Approximately 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have left the relatively stable confines of organizational life—sometimes by choice, sometimes not—to work as independent contractors. Some of this growth reflects the emergence of ride-hailing and task-oriented service platforms, but a recent report by McKinsey found that knowledge-intensive industries and creative occupations are the largest and fastest-growing segments of the freelance economy.

To learn what it takes to be successful in independent work, business school professors Gianpiero Petriglieri, Susan J. Ashford, and Amy Wrzesniewski. recently completed an in-depth study of sixty-five gig workers and summarized their findings in the March-April 2018 Harvard Business Review

These three researchers found remarkably similar sentiments across generations and occupation. All those they studied acknowledged that they felt a host of personal, social, and economic anxieties without the cover and support of a traditional employer—but they also claimed that their independence was a choice and that they would not give up the benefits that came with it. Although they worried about unpredictable schedules and finances, the “gig workers” also felt they had mustered more courage and were leading richer lives than their corporate counterparts.

The researchers discovered that the most effective independent workers navigate this tension with common...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Business Briefings subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $135/year

  • Get 12 months of Business Briefings that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Business Briefings Research Library
  • Optional Business Briefings monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% pro-rata refund