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What Does the Gig Economy Mean for Creatives?


LAST UPDATED: June 26, 2023

The Gig Economy is a buzz term you're probably struggling to escape at the moment. It is causing controversy and debate across all industries and is constantly in the media. But what does it actually mean and how will it affect creative businesses and candidates?

What is the Gig Economy?

Although the term has only come into use in the past year or so, the concept is not new. You may have heard it referred to previously as the sharing or collaborative economy, describing a labour market that operates on a contract or project basis, finding roles or ‘gigs' predominantly via apps and social platforms. The gig economy has expanded on this way of working and now encompasses consultants, independent contractors, freelancers and on-demand workers. It's estimated that five million people in the UK are a part of this alternative workforce and that over half of Millennials have a side income or are working independently alongside their full-time jobs. A study last year by Intuit found that over 40% of the US workforce will be independent contractors by 2020.

What does this mean for creative businesses?

The Gig Economy is here to stay and creative managers will need to adapt their strategies to match with this alternative way of working. The number of creative candidates that are moving to freelance work is increasing. A recent LinkedIn study found that Arts & Design and Media & Communications were the top industries for freelance workers, sharing 80% of the gig economy. Companies that look to incorporate these contract workers are likely to be more agile and efficient and may find it easier to find the right talent for the job. When hiring on a project by project basis, candidates can be sourced quickly and desired skill-sets can be more accurately defined and assessed. With the current talent shortage, embracing the contractor labour market is a logical move. The majority of talent are now looking for flexible working options and some of the best candidates for the role might be available on a freelance basis only. The companies that will do well out of this new economy will be those that utilise a diverse workforce and are open to new ways of working.

What does this mean for creative candidates?

Freelancing in the Gig Economy gives employees more control over their work patterns, the variety of projects they work on and their own finances. It can also offer a better work/life balance than a full time role and provides more flexibility. Many creatives also enjoy the idea of gig work as they can charge a higher day rate than if they worked for an agency and can pick and choose the projects that they feel will add to their portfolios and/or that they feel truly passionate about. Gig apps and social media provide accessible platforms for freelancers to showcase their work and skills, so many are making the transition. However, there are still some major concerns and debate around how these workers should be classified. Currently, as independent contractors, they have none of the standard working rights that are available to permanent employees, such as minimum wage, redundancy protection, paid holiday or sickness entitlement. Therefore, it can be difficult for creative candidates to determine which way of working is best for them.

The Gig Economy is not only here to stay, it is growing by the day. And, if the predictions are to be believed, we will soon be a nation of contractors. The employment landscape is changing and businesses and candidates in the creative sector may need to reassess their approach if they want to keep up.

Do you need some advice on how to hire in the Gig Economy, or are you currently looking for some amazing freelance talent? Get in touch and we'll be happy to help.