What the Gig Economy Really Is


The term “Gig Economy” is used to describe many changing attitudes, standards and preferences in the way people work. Forbes definition of the Gig Economy, as it relates to attitudes about work, is the “Increased tendency for businesses to hire independent contractors and short-term workers, and the increased availability of workers for these short-term arrangements”. Our society increasingly has expectations of convenience and immediate gratification. If you want your purchase delivered next day to your door, you order it from Amazon prime. If you want your food now, without having to go and pick it up, you order from Grubhub. And if you want to staff your contact center up down in a moment’s notice, you subscribe to the principles of the Gig Economy.

The Gig Economy As It Stands Today

If you look at the entire U.S. workforce, only a very small portion of the work (less than one percent) is being done through Gig arrangements – on-demand workers doing short stint, freelance work. And of that one percent, Uber has a significant share. However, about 10 percent of the workforce does non-traditional part-time work consisting of short work stints. They do enough of them to be able to afford staying independent and consider being a freelance worker their primary job. And about 30 percent of the workforce does some smaller amount of non-traditional work, and they may have a full-time job and are just working these gigs part time.

Because schedule flexibility and the desire to add additional income are driving agent interest in becoming gig contact center workers, the contact center provides a lot of opportunities for both contact centers and their agents.

Why On-Demand Agents are in In Demand for Contact Centers

There are some significant benefits to contact centers when it comes to hiring on demand agents:

  • Labor arbitrage – Ability to use less expensive workers
  • Avoid payroll taxes and other benefits with part-timers
  • More easily manage volume spikes
  • Wider range of workers available
  • Easy to downsize (seasonal ramps)
  • Don’t have to hire an entire FTE (full times equivalent)
  • Enables easy access to “specialty” workers

But agents stand to benefit as well. While gig work does not offer the benefits or stability of full time employment and making the same amount of take home pay may require getting work from multiple contact centers, many agents are attracted to gig work for the greater work/life balance and being able to pick or choose the shifts that work best for their schedules. And while compensation will vary depending on the type of support work available, some Gig contact center workers look at on-demand work as a supplement to their full-time employment. Worker benefits include:

  • Acquire more experience and build bigger personal networks at a faster rate
  • More control over careers
  • Offers more Work-at-Home opportunities

As the gig economy grows and expands further, contact centers will need new strategies and technologies for managing these employees. Stay tuned to the blog for how contact centers can embrace the gig economy for a win-win situation.


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