My Experiment Of Working In The Gig Economy

After spending years working at a senior level in HR, I decided to leave the corporate workforce at the age 35 and own my own future. I opened my People business, closely working with clients to formulate people solutions and drive new initiatives, with the focus to go 100% online / work remotely – by the time I was 40.

Yet, my REAL journey into the world of the Gig Economy started sometime in 2013, as I loved trying out new technology. I was so curious to experiment with the live online job platforms and see if HR Professionals, like me (who left the corporate workforce) could make a living on them.

I do believe that if you want to work 100% online or remotely with clients, you need to create a Career Lifestyle (and there is no other word for it than that!) that fits into the modern world and the “Gig Economy” is part of that.

This post is an introduction to my transition from being employed as an international HR Director for various reputable firms to working as a top-end Freelancer / Gigger and boy, was it a journey!

Before moving forward, let’s take a look at the definitions of high-end professional and freelance consulting and the gig economy.

What is a Freelance Consultant?

I bet you must have heard the word “freelancer” on several occasions, but what or who exactly is a freelancer?

  1. A freelancer is anyone who works independently or is self-employed and offers outsourcing services [usually] on a short-term basis. So, the so-called “Gigger” or “World Wide Worker”.
  2. A consultant is someone who works for business outfits on a project-by-project basis, and has no other ties with the companies and as a freelance consultant, my job is to work for myself with several clients.

This definition is quite different from an independent consultant, who is someone that either works for him/herself having several clients or works for a company that assigns him/her to multiple clients.

It can be said that NOT all independent consultants are freelance consultants, but all freelance consultants are independent consultants.

What is the Gig Economy?

Well, according to the definition on;

the gig economy refers to an environment where temporary positions are common and organisations outsource their work to independent workers on a short-term basis.

Another definition is;

A labour market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs.

Both definitions are saying the same things – short-term contract jobs by independent workers.

The evolution of the Gig Economy is a result of several factors – including the 2008 financial crisis, reduction of staff, digitisation – which is now leading to decreased (traditional) jobs due to automation. For me, it has always been an experiment… (It is not my main bread and butter!)

Now that we are done with the definitions, I will briefly disclose to you what it felt like during this transitional period.

Full Disclosure

Just like any other venture you are newly introduced to, it takes a bit of time getting used to.

Working in the Gig Economy seems to be the dream of many (HR) consultants, but it might not be quite as rosy as some paint it to be!

You will surely face challenges as well as (small) “victories” along the way.

There are many advantages to being a Professional Gig Consultant, that I probably would not have enjoyed, if I was still working in the corporate world.

(I love working with the whole world; one day I work with clients from South America, then Indonesia, Pakistan, Kenia or Australia)

Although working in the gig economy is a liberating experience, pajamas can indeed be part of your normal work gear! (Mine are jeans)

As a World Wide Worker, I am my own boss and employee; I do not have to prepare for the normal 8am-8pm routine any longer, as I work in my own time and virtually from anywhere I want.

So, for you and me to be successful in the Gig Economy, you have to be truly serious about this industry (it’s not all play).

You need to meet deadlines and work with clients that have varied expectations and different work standards. There is no one-way of working, remember all the diverse cultures you work with online.

The amazing thing is that corporate companies are increasingly looking for more tailored advice offered by highly qualified individuals.

This post is just an introduction, and as this is going to be a Series (got lots to share with you!), I will continue with “My Experiment Of Working In The Gig Economy” next week.

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If the Gig Economy sounds like something that you too would take pleasure in being a part of – whether by participating as a “Gigger”, or cheering us on from the sidelines – I urge you to read all you can, before you begin your own adventure…

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  • Denis W Barnard
    05/04/2017 at 20:56

    It is tough and is not for everyone. You need to have a skill set that is marketable on the outside – one that is not ordinarily foundin a corporate environment. Plus you need to be able to promote yourself well.

    The pijamas / jeans bit is totally true! I am based in Latin America fo 5-6 hours behind UK and Europe, so their 10.00 am calls are very earl for me!

    But, if you can manage to carve a niche for yourself, you’ll wonder how you could ever work as an employee again!

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