It’s 2019, and the gig economy is booming.
Back in 2010, Intuit predicted that within a decade, 40 percent of the U.S. workforce would be freelancing. As of 2018, that prediction is on track. The most recent Freelancing in America survey by Freelancer’s Union reported that 57.3 million people are freelancing, out of a total workforce of 161 million, or, approximately, 36 percent.
In fact, women are participating in the gig economy in record numbers. Why? Because it allows us to leverage the ability to create our own schedules, blend work and life and supplement our incomes. Hyperwallet’s 2018 survey of women in the gig economy reported that an astounding 60 percent of women who left their full-time jobs for gig work did so for one of two reasons: 1) to get more flexibility, or 2) to have time to care for a child, a parent or another relative.
This begs the question as to how women are able to manage running both a home and a freelance enterprise, while maximizing their time?
The answer is simple: technology. Our ability to showcase our services, connect with buyers and get paid is made possible by innovators who have simplified the tools and created new ways to connect.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Before PayPal was spun out of eBay in 2015, it was tough to get paid as a free agent. Waiting for checks to come in the mail, getting paid in small increments and getting paid securely, without giving away personal financial information was a challenge. Today, PayPal — and other services including Zelle, Square, Venmo, Google Pay and Apple Pay — have made it easier than ever to do business securely online.
Whether you drive for Uber, create graphic designs, write business plans, or put together IKEA furniture, there’s a platform and an app for that. 99Designs allows individuals to create contests to get logo designs. This connects designers with customers in a seamless, simple way. Thumbtack connects life coaches, photographers, and many other professionals with people who need their services. TaskRabbit lets people get help with household tasks such as cleaning, moving and delivery work. These services provide a platform where buyers can post projects and gig workers can find opportunities.
Working from Anywhere
Of course, one of the major draws of working in the gig economy, especially for women, is the ability to do work from wherever you are. Sitting at a soccer game? You can still communicate with your clients. Traveling to Thailand? All you need is Wi-Fi, and you can be on a video conference, deliver your services and find new business. All this is possible because broadband internet access and Wi-Fi have become so inexpensive and so efficient that you can have the same level of service in a Starbucks in Seattle that you would have sitting in a cube at a Fortune 500 company.
Keeping Track of Finances
Benjamin Franklin said that the only certain things in life are death and taxes. While I’ve never met a freelancer who loves paying taxes, we all still have to get it done. The good news is that technology can help with that, too. From online banking to apps that track business expenses to programs like Quicken, Freshbooks and Mint, it’s easier than ever to stay on top of revenues and expenses, and make sure you’re on top of your taxes.
It has become clear that the 9 to 5 format does not work for many women, and working independently offers a way to close that gap. We want to do meaningful work, but we want to do it while also being present for other parts of our lives, including caring for our families, connecting with our communities, and taking care of ourselves. Technology and the gig economy allow us to blaze new paths and define new ways of working that are a better fit for our lives.