When the concept of the gig economy was first introduced in the United States, it was designed to serve as a stepping stone for workers to earn extra income after recovering from the 2008 financial crisis. It offers some compelling perks, such as flexibility in how they organize work hours and monetizing the assets that were available to them, and it’s easy to see why the gig economy was so successful among American workers.
But what was once a beacon of labor autonomy has now weathered its fair share of challenges in the U.S. labor market. Yet despite the problems of the gig economy, US workers still want to reap the benefits of what was originally intended. Not to mention, US workers want flexible careers more than ever amid the remote environment accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
All hope is not lost when a new concept emerges that better meets the needs of the new American workforce: The Flex Labor Economy.
Put simply, the flex economy gives workers the freedom and autonomy to monetize their existing skills in their free time and to set their own wages, be it as a part-time job, full-time or as a stopgap. This differs from the current gig economy model, which requires workers to monetize their assets versus their skills. For example, DoorDash helps its employees monetize the assets they likely already own: your time and a reliable vehicle.
The flex lab economy differs from this model in that it enables people and companies to offer the skills they have never been connected to before and monetize them. This is better suited to a variety of different skills, such as their hidden (or discovered) “superpowers” that enable them to do more meaningful work that suits them.
Even though we’re tired of hearing about it, COVID-19 has changed almost everything about the way we work and do business. It created new needs for customers as the world moved mostly online and remotely, creating new jobs. And the data prove it.
Over the past six months, Airtasker data shows that over 2,500 employees have signed up for jobs or “tasks” that can be done within the open marketplace within this flexible economic model. This is mainly due to strong demand driven by consumers looking for niche skills to solve new problems created by the pandemic. This brings us to the most important pillar of the flex economy: it enables workers to adapt and react to changing situations and needs within society.
The flex economy is designed to create more flexible work opportunities that, in turn, employ Americans and keep active participants in the US economy. If there are more jobs that meet the needs of the worker (i.e., desirable wages, desirable work) it creates an incentive for the economy, which is especially important as we want to recover from the economic fallout from COVID -19.
Flex-Work enables people and companies to create employment opportunities wherever jobs would otherwise not be created. Not to mention, it’s a viable source of job creation for those looking to return to full-time employment.
As we start to get through the rest of 2021, we will see this evolution and new platforms and apps emerge to support the flex-work model. The future of work depends on giving people the freedom to choose how to work, when to work and what to get paid.