The Gig Economy: How it Evolved and What’s Ahead

The gig economy is exploding and there's no slowdown in sight. Today's gig workers span a vast range of demographics and backgrounds and are all doing it for different reasons.

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The gig economy is exploding. In the United States alone, it is projected to generate $455.2 billion by the end of 2023. 

And there’s no slowdown in sight. Powered by people’s strong desire for flexible work schedules and new technology that has made gig work more streamlined and accessible than ever, this type of work is here to stay and will play a critical role in the economy. 

Gig work has undergone substantial change in the last few years. When one thinks of a gig worker, it might conjure up images of a male and 20-something college student delivering food via DoorDash. But today’s gig workers span a vast range of demographics and backgrounds. 

There are stay-at-home parents who opt to drive Uber when their partner is off work, 60-something retirees or veterans looking to supplement their income, digital nomads who work from a different country every month and full-time, salaried workers who simply want the option to make more cash on the side. As life gets more expensive and inflation isn’t going away anytime soon, more people will turn to gig work as an additional source of income.

Just as gig work itself has evolved, so have customer expectations. Food delivery apps have set a precedent for the level of visibility customers expect. Consumers want real-time updates on when their products or services will arrive, so things like location tracking and automatic notifications on order status are a must. 

Food delivery apps have already built this technology into their platforms, but most other gig worker apps have yet to catch up. In the near future, every single company that employs gig workers will need to provide the same level of real-time visibility, updates and tracking that food delivery apps do currently. 

For example, if someone hires a handyman gig worker to hang art in their home or assemble furniture, they should be privy to and alerted at every step of the process. When the worker is assigned to their job, when they’re en-route to the customer's home with estimated time of arrival such as “your handyman is on the way and will arrive in 30 minutes”, when they are nearby “your handyman is approaching your home” and when they have arrived. 

Some companies are making these types of real-time insights possible with the help of logistics technology. It’s a win-win for both gig workers and the companies who employ them. Logistics technology provides the data and insights companies need to ensure gig workers are operating as efficiently as possible and workers receive the information they need to maximize their time and income. 

Empowering gig workers to be as profitable as possible is paramount. Because of its unconventional structure, most gig work doesn’t offer the same benefits as a salaried job, like paid time off, sick leave or a 401K. This wasn’t much of an issue years ago, when gig workers might’ve only picked up a few hours of work per week. But now, up to 44% of gig workers rely on this work as their main or sole source of income. 

Eventually, government regulations will likely be enacted to protect gig workers as their numbers grow, but until then logistics technology is playing a critical role in helping gig workers maximize their income. Insights from logistics technology can help a food delivery gig worker pick up as many orders as possible within their allotted hours for the day.

This information is vital to gig workers, but also greatly benefits the companies who employ them. For instance, if it’s taking food delivery gig workers longer than usual to get from Point A to Point B, it can tip the company off to the fact that they need to update their address book or provide special pick-up instructions for a certain location. Alternatively, restaurants might use data from logistics technology to see which areas people are most often ordering their food from and where they are not to adjust advertising accordingly.

Logistics technology will be a key driver of the gig economy in the coming years. Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to gig work, and logistics technology will provide both workers and their employers with the insights they need to make operations as efficient, seamless and profitable as possible.