the gig economy versus full time employees

I have served as a creative on both sides of this fence; my last full-time position, working for a strategic management consulting company, was 1999-2002. After my layoff, I decided to work as a contractor, which was quite the shift! Autonomy was great, but I missed the stability and “buy in” that comes with working for a company as an employee.

After working as from 2003-2013, I was hired by NOVA Workforce Development Division in August 2014. So I’m back to a full-time mentality, but my actual POSITION is a part-time position with no benefits. I consider this my employment purgatory; I anticipate my position becoming full time, but as with many other companies, Northern Virginia Community College employs a number of part time employees to fill positions that don’t require a full time schedule.

I still work sporadic contract jobs, but I see both sides of the coin, as an independent contractor with autonomy and control over my own process and time, and as a full-time employee who is dedicated to my company and its vision, with benefits and the security of knowing that my income is secure. Oh, and the camaraderie! Which means, at least for me: so much food. So much very, very good food.

Dave Ashton’s article (published on LinkedIn) puts a spotlight on the double-edged sword of traditional employment models and disruptive approaches that have led to these “gig economy” jobs:

“Some journalists are raising terrifying claims about how the sky is falling because “full-time employment is dying and soon we’ll all be obsolete”. It’s as if by 2020 we’ll be out on the street, penniless and begging a parasol-carrying bourgeois couple to let us run them across town in a rickshaw so we can earn a few tuppence for tonight’s pudding. A lot of people are buying into the fearmongering. They shouldn’t.”

It’s an interesting read. I would love to hear perspectives from those who, like me, have worked both as independent contractors and full-time employees–what are your thoughts on the two options? How do you feel about a gig economy ?

Read Dave Ashton’s article: “The Case Against Full-Time Employees”


1 Comment

  1. I know quite a few people who work several jobs of their own making who love it. And…I know a lot of contractors who are not fans of it. (And then, of course, know some people who do.) When I’ve been a contractor, I’ve gone without insurance. I’ve had fewer days off. I’ve never been pleased with it.

    But my experience is not fact for all. I have friends — especially those in relationships with dual incomes — where one of them contracting has been wonderful. There’s flexibility through those I know who took short-time contract gigs. Where the gig economy loses me a bit is in the hype of working for Uber and some other services. It’s easy to point to the few people rolling in it, but there’s a good podcast that dedicated three episodes that looked more at the reality of the gig economy. One of the guys on the show worked a month for Uber and other gigs and they did three shows about it. It sounds like a miserable life to me:

    As we move away more and more from manufacturing and automate more jobs, I wonder what the future of work looks like. What worries me most is the disconnect of it all…people who have good jobs looking at those who have a hard time as almost deserving it. I’ve worked in factories, warehouses, as a landscaper in the Texas heat…a lot of crappy jobs. And it’s only through hard work but almost as important — certain support and abilities that I always had — that I moved on to better gigs. I know a lot of people for whom that is not an option, no matter how hard they work.

    I hate seeing people say, “Well, if they wanted it, they’d better themselves and work harder,” when they work their fingers to the bone in warehouses where they are yelled at; meanwhile in the office, people lose hours of productivity raging about the temperature or the perceived tone of an email.

    I like many of the opportunities the gig economy offers, but in the end…I fear we lose a little bit of our humanity when you have someone who expects a bottle of water and snacks that cost the driver almost more than they make on a short Uber ride getting terrible reviews and driven out of work by entitled individuals who say, “Well, if they wanna compete, them’s the breaks!”

    The future of work is definitely going to be different. Some say we will all be happier working quick gigs and making fat cash, but many working gigs work harder for less. Others say the future will be a wonderful place where work and money are obsolete and we’ll all get nothing but time to pursue creative passions. Regardless of what the future holds, there are going to be a LOT of people ground beneath it all who will be ignored by those who have security.

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