Making the Gig Economy Work


How we define “job” is not a fixed concept, and the idea of a job as being selling one’s labor to a corporation in exchange for a wage is rapidly being replaced with “gig economy” platforms where individuals take more control over their career path.

In the book “Dotcloud Boom: How born-in-the-cloud entrepreneurs are shaking up the world’s biggest tech companies and creating the next generation of startup millionaires,” I dispel one of the biggest myths of our time – that of job security. In reality, no such thing exists. The illusion of job security is dependent on individuals continuing to see the corporation’s role as a fatherly one – giving sustenance in exchange for loyalty and dedication. But, as anyone who has ever seen the internal workings of a corporate board room will tell you, the corporation’s role is nothing of the sort. The corporation’s role is to generate profits for its shareholders, and the fact that it creates jobs along the way is incidental to that. That state is neither good nor bad, it is simply the nature of the beast.

The gig economy represents a major shift in how we define a job, and as the power of mobile apps and remote communications continues to gain influence, we can expect it to grow. Already, employment in the gig economy is growing faster than traditional payroll employment, according to the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

Much like employers, gig economy platforms run the gamut as far as how much they benefit the people who take advantage of them. Some like ChoreRelief treat providers like entrepreneurs, more closely adhering to the true spirit of gig economy platforms. The platform, in addition to providing technology to connect individuals to revenue opportunities, offers classes and education in how to run a business.

Created by four entrepreneurs in Chicago out of the 1871 Center for Technology and Entrepreneurship in the city’s Merchandise Mart, ChoreRelief offers a convenient app for small and one-person service companies, taking a different approach than some other platforms. Background checks are performed on all independent contractors, who are also insured for up to $2 million while on the job.

Other regional gig platforms like WashOS, a Southern California on-demand auto detailing app, matches up professionally trained auto detailers. Like ChoreRelief, contractors working through the WashOS app are insured and undergo a background check, and graduate from the WashOS academy training program.

According to founder and CEO of WashOS, Bertrand Patriarca, “While there are of course pros and cons to gig economy employment, many workers are drawn to the flexibility of being able to work during times that suit their own schedule. Especially in larger cities thriving with busy parents, ambitious young entrepreneurs and those in a creative industry, being able to work around activities such as appointments, networking events, classes and auditions and still being able to support yourself is crucial. Additionally, the ‘traditional’ 9-5 is rarely even the normal now with most business hours starting by 8:30 AM and ending at 6 PM. Mainstream employers could take a page from the on-demand economy by allowing more flexible work conditions or options to work remotely.”