On both sides of the equation, traditional employment can be constricting.

Employees have set hours and income, and they can’t refuse work — at least not without putting their job in jeopardy. Employers have to meet their payroll obligations, even if their volume of work dips.

No wonder the gig economy is growing by leaps and bounds. In many cases, contracting is more efficient for companies, while contract workers enjoy greater control and income potential.

Sound appealing? If any of the following signs apply to you, it might be time to jump into the gig economy:

 

For Workers

A job or career switch can be scary. With that said, millions of Americans make it just fine in the gig economy. They took the leap for the same reasons you might be tempted to:

1.     You Value Flexibility.

The greatest advantage of gig work is its flexibility. Independent contractors control their own schedules, making it easier to handle everything from homeschooling to banking.

If the ability to work when and where you want appeals to you, start searching for gigs. Whether you prefer to work in the evenings, on weekends, or at coffee shops, you’ll find that freedom in the gig economy.

2.     You’re in College.

A college education is a full-time commitment. Even a 20-hour-per-week job might be too much for you to stay on top of your studies. If you’d like to work just a few hours each week for some spending money, the gig economy can be a great option. And depending on your field, it can help you get experience in what you do before you apply for jobs after college.

3.     You’re Transitioning to Retirement.

Later in life, your priorities tend to change. You might want more time with family, or to pursue your hobbies. Taking gigs here and there can reduce the rate at which you draw down your retirement accounts. And because many gigs can be done at home, you might be able to earn money while being around your family.

4.     You Want to Be Your Own Boss.

If working for “the man” gets you down, good news: The gig economy lets you be your own boss. Think of it as the middle ground between being chained to an employer and traditional entrepreneurship. Independent contracting lets you demand what you’re worth, refuse work you don’t want to do, and tackle projects using your own processes.

5.     You Have a Specialized Skill

Experts believe the future of employment will become increasingly skills-based. If you have a specialized skill, you can command a premium while being choosy about the gigs you take on.

The reason is, some sectors have more tasks available than workers who can do them. Software developers, writers, and graphic designers can usually find work that pays more per hour in the gig economy than they can traditional employment markets.

 

For Businesses

For business leaders, the question is how and when to incorporate gig workers into their workflows. Check this list and see if your organization is ready to give it a go:

6.     You Have a One-Time Project.

A surprising number of business tasks only need to be done once. Whether you need a logo designed, a building painted, or a book written, your best bet might be to contract it out.

Specify exactly what needs to be done in the contract. Post your project on a site like Upwork, and be patient. You might need to review a few dozen resumes before you find the right person, but you’ll save time by skipping things like onboarding and benefits administration.

 

7.     You’re Looking to Cut Labor Costs.

Your success as a business owner rests on your ability to bring in more money than you pay out. Because labor costs account for as much of 70% of your expenses, there’s a great place to look for savings.

Working with gig workers can save you money in a few areas:

●      Benefits

By law, you have to provide healthcare to employees who work a certain number of hours. There’s no such requirement for gig workers.

●      Training

Gig workers are already experts in what they do. There’s no need to train them in their own field.

●      Office Space

A small office in a major metropolitan area can run thousands of dollars per month. Most  gig work can be done remotely.

●      Meetings

Employee time gets expensive quickly. Aside from project-related conversations, there’s no need to pay gig workers to attend your team’s meetings.

 

8.     You’re Sick of the Hiring Cycle.

Every time a new position opens, you have to go through the same process: posting the job, fielding applications, scheduling interviews, narrowing down candidates, and onboarding the new hire. Opting for a gig worker cuts out multiple parts of that process.

What if it doesn’t work out? With gig workers, there’s no long-term commitment. The worst that can happen is that you send the next contract to someone else.

 

9.     You’re Struggling to Innovate.

Long-time employees are valuable, but they tend to get set in their ways. Innovation requires teams to try new things. The gig economy is a great way to bring new ideas into your organization.

Because gig workers are paid by the project, they’re always looking for ways to work more efficiently. That encourages them to experiment with new processes, tools, and automations. When they work alongside your other team members, those things will naturally rub off.

 

10.    You’re Dealing With Inconsistent Demand.

One moment, you’re forced to turn away business because you’re so busy; the next, you can’t find enough work to keep the team busy. Does that sound familiar? If so, gig workers are a great way to deal with the situation.

When your company is stretched thin, you can bring another contractor on board to lend a hand. During the lean times, you can let one go without worrying about termination restrictions.

There’s never been a better time to get your start in the gig economy. Give it a try, and chances are, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do so sooner.