Ask the Money Lady: Rebooting the ‘gig economy’

 In Opinion

Dear Money Lady,
Before COVID I was always working as an engineering contractor for various businesses, but I have been unemployed for two years now. I was one of the first ones to go because I was not a full-time employee. Now I am back working, but I wonder if business will ever want contractors again. Dave

Dear Dave,
They definitely will, just give it some time. It is predicted that in 2022 we will see a shift in the Canadian workforce. Prior to COVID, the labour market had changed immensely from one that was characterized by stable or permanent employment, to a “gig economy” of temporary or contracted employment where an on-demand, freelance or a contingent workforce was the norm. In the labour industry a gig can be defined as “any type of job with a short or uncertain duration.” This type of staffing model was on the rise from 2016 to 2020 allowing organization to fill skill gaps by hiring temporary and on-demand staff. This was not like the old temp jobs of the past, but rather short or long-term contracts for various skill levels. From blue-collar, light industrial workers to highly skilled IT, engineering, accounting and HR professionals, these temporary employees were more likely to be called contingent workers, independent contractors, consultants or even freelance workers. Regardless of the title, the gig economy in Canada, that once proved to be a massively growing sector, now due to COVID, has literally been flattened.
But there is some good news. In the last three months we have seen a major upswing of the gig sector again. Many freelancers are eager to get back to work. Businesses now have accepted that most of their employees can indeed work from home. Many are finding that the flexibility and choice about when, where and how to work gives them greater job satisfaction. They now see the appeal of the old-style gig economy and many full-timers don’t want to go back to work.
Companies realize that they can get more out of their employees when they work from home and reducing their real estate footprint lowers overhead costs. High-priced office leases are not being renewed and highly skilled professionals are now pursuing project-based careers either with or without full time employment.
It is becoming a new trend in our culture to want flexibility in our working lives. We seem to now be changing our view and wanting to “work to live” instead of the pre-COVID ways to “live to work.”

Christine Ibbotson is the author of three finance books. Contact her at www.askthemoneylady.ca or send a question to info@askthemoneylady.ca.

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