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The professional gig economy in numbers3 min read

3 min read

As part of Croud’s report – The professional gig economy – we explored the rise of this new way of working, and how digital transformation has made room for a more connected workstyle.

In the final part of Croud’s blog series, we’re deep-diving into the numbers behind the professional gig economy, from concerns around getting started, to how this new world of work will affect people and global career structure alike.

Perceived barriers

Despite rising in popularity, many professionals are still hesitant to commit to a freelance lifestyle. Drawing on the experiences of over 100 participants from our Croudie Network, and comparing this with our survey of 1,000 employed individuals in the UK, we discovered that there is a stark contrast between people who could benefit from (and are interested in) the gig economy, and their perceptions about the reality of freelance work.

Most tellingly, whilst one three in ten respondents felt their job made them happy, a majority of them also worried about barriers such as:

  • Lack of stability (one in three)
  • Concerns over supporting their families (one in five)
  • Not having enough professional connections to bring in regular work (one in five)

So ultimately, there is a need to educate the current workforce on this move away from traditional full-time work.  Nevertheless, whilst it won’t suit everyone, two-thirds of our ‘Croudies’ feel happier seeing moving on contractual work, and 39% of them would never go back to working in a full-time office role again.

The reality

When those who are most likely to benefit from the gig economy are apprehensive about getting started, there’s a case to be made around dispelling the negative assumptions surrounding this new way of working. From the association with low-skilled work availability to zero-hour contracts and career uncertainty, many of the worries around the professional gig economy can be eased when looking at the numbers.

And as we’ve seen, there are proven practical benefits across the board, from professionals to employers and the planet itself.

Planet

The professional gig economy can have an enormous impact on the country’s carbon footprint. For example, cutting down commuter journeys and encouraging home working. And with the potential to reduce carbon emissions by over 3 million tonnes annually, it’s an attractive choice for eco-conscious professionals and businesses. Looking at the current COVID-19 crisis as an example, with the majority of the world currently working from home, carbon emissions have reduced by 17% on average. Making a valid case point of the positive impact flexible working can have on the planet.

Professionals

Being a part of the professional gig economy allows you to be exempt from having to commute into the office on a daily basis, which in return will reduce your daily travel costs. The average UK employee currently spends between £140-300+ a month commuting to work, with some rail fares amounting to a fifth of take-home pay, not to mention also costing £148bn in time alone. Therefore, the financial rewards for working from home are much broader than simply higher salaries or access to lucrative contracts.

Employers

Employers also look to benefit hugely from the gig economy. Companies can save money on hiring fees and training programmes for tasks that may not be required all the time.  Not to mention, with the cost upwards of £250 per person per month for office space, employers can save a generous chunk of their budget without the need for large office spaces.

The bigger picture

The professional gig economy is a well-needed accelerator for the wider UK economy. In 2016 alone, freelancers contributed £119bn to the economy, with a large percentage of that figure being driven by flexible, project-based professionals. This is only going to increase as technological developments and employer attitudes change.

And with businesses across the globe championing work-from-home policies in order to continue functioning during the current global pandemic, we can also expect to see a stark decline in misconceptions surrounding flexible work over the next year and beyond.

You can download Croud’s report on the professional gig economy online. To find out more about Croud’s Croudie Network, and how it can benefit you, get in touch.