What is Gig economy, and why is it booming?

what is gig economy by infothatmatter
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Ever got confused if you are a freelancer or a gig worker? Have you been working an independent online job for some time but still don’t know the difference between a freelancer and a gig worker? Don’t worry. This is one of the most common questions put to us in the past few days. We have decided to bring this dispute between the two terms to an end today. Read more to know about:

What is Gig economy?

Freelancer vs. gig worker

Factors behind the rise in short-term jobs

Pros and Cons of short-term jobs

What is Gig Economy?

According to a report by ‘flexing it’ published by economic times, 72% of all gig projects in India were commissioned by large corporate and professional services firms in 2018-19. This is a significant number because startups were initial adopters of the flexible gig economy. But, increasingly, large corporate and professional service providers are driving the demand. But, before we dive deeper into more detailed aspects of the gig economy, let us understand the basics.

The word ‘gig’ earlier used to be limited to the musical lexicon. It referred to a paid engagement performance by a musician. However, lately, the term has become more expansive in the meaning it represents. It is now widely used in a career-related context.

A gig economy refers to a type of market system in which temporary positions are common, and organizations hire workers for a short-term commitment. The term is used as a slang for jobs that last for a short specified duration. These hired workers get paid as per a mutually agreed upon rate and aren’t offered permanent positions.

Difference between Freelancer vs Gig Workers in short table

Freelancers vs. Gig workers: Demystifying the difference

It’s easy to mix ‘gig workers’ and ‘freelancers’ because there is no standard definition for the term ‘gig economy’ worldwide. Generally, both freelancers and gig workers are considered part of the gig economy. However, these are entirely different terms that cannot be used interchangeably.

A freelancer is an independent worker who runs his/her own business. They are responsible for everything from marketing, billing to the actual work. In a way, they are both the front-line worker and the CEO of their business.

Freelancers set their pay rates, apply for jobs and can engage in a project ranging from months to years. Some freelancers may be associated with an organization for more than three years on a freelance basis.

They are prominent in the skilled work fields like graphic design, web development, IoT development, project management and video editing.

You may be interested in: Soft Skills and Websites to Boost your Freelancing Career

Gig workers, although independent, are not the whole sole owner of their business. They are usually people hired through mediator apps like Ola, Uber, and Urban Clap. They are not responsible for marketing and billing, which is done by the mediating platform. They also do not decide the pay rates. Unlike a freelancer, a gig worker is often employed in what is known as micro-tasks or piecemeal work. 

Recommended for you: Earn Money via Micro Jobs

In essence, the job and pay scale of a gig worker is closely tied to the parent company and its structure. On the other hand, a freelancer has a brand of his own and dictates his terms and policies. 

Reasons behind the Rise of Short-Term Jobs

  1. Delinking of Job and Location: With the advent of the digital age, work can be done from anywhere thanks to mobile devices. This has allowed people to work for projects inaccessible physically.
  2. Financial Pressure on Companies: The companies due to high competition are hiring flexible workers more as compared to cost-inefficient permanent workers. Companies also save up on infrastructural expenses.
  3. Expert services without training: Companies can now take services from experts without having to pay for their training and long term recruitment. Nearly 70% of projects require less than 20 hours and are well suited for short-term jobs.

Pros and Cons of Short-Term Jobs


  1. Flexibility: People no longer need to stay stuck in a 9-5 work cycle and can adjust their work hours to their needs.
  2. Growth opportunity: Constraints like the location of an individual do not impact the growth prospect in online short term jobs


  1. Zero Job Benefits: Unlike a permanent employee, members of the gig economy do not get additional job benefits like insurance, maternity leaves, and allowances.
  2. No Oversight: Since the gig economy consists of independent workers, there is a chance of potential misuse of that freedom. The assault of passengers by ride-sharing cab drivers is an example of this.

We hope to have settled the doubt regarding the gig economy jargon through this post. If there are more questions on any career-related topics, please feel free to drop a comment. Subscribe to our newsletter to get path-breaking career insights and join us in the information revolution

Satyam Srivastava
Satyam is an undergraduate student at Hansraj College, Delhi. He loves to read about a myriad of topics and then write and debate on them. He has a keen interest in following the global sociopolitical developments and their impact on various facets of human lives. He also writes prose and poetry in both his native language, Hindi and English