Friday, 6 october 2017 | Brenda Rodríguez López
The years that followed the global crisis were decisive for the professionals of today, especially for those young generations that were just entering the labor market. Creativity, ingenuity and astuteness became their most valuable allies, because to play in that uncertain work scenario, it was necessary to establish new rules. Freelance, occasional workers, sporadic collaborators, professional cooperatives,... People now play different and alternative roles compared to the traditional ones. The work has gone from being stable and strict, to becoming sporadic and flexible. The gig economy is disembarking at the port of the working world. Are we ready for its arrival?
Constantly looking for new performances, moving with instruments and the equipment on their backs, maintaining and establishing contacts with showrooms and performers, attending auditions,... Earning a living by working as a musician is not an easy task. Neither it was, in the golden 1920s. American jazz performers who did not have a steady job, were forced 'to jump from one gig to other' to try gathering a salary. In many occasions, these musicians were hired to act along with other interpreters of a band, although just occasionally. This practice was called 'gigging', a word that would give rise to what we know today as gig economy. This is the new work modality which is characterized –like the activity of both today and yesterday's musicians–by the temporality, independence and specialization of the professionals who exercise it .
Working from a coffee shop taking an espresso, deciding when and how to start a project, having a working day only for a few hours, deactivating the clock alarm, working with different teams and in different companies, choosing customers or becoming the boss himself/herself. These are the particularities of the work of an increasing number of professionals. It seems an ideal working model, but like the popular phrase says:
The gig professionalization
The gig economy grows alongside the collaborative culture and is driven by the proliferation of digital platforms like Uber, Deliveroo or Freelancer. The crisis was its breeding ground. Professionals and entrepreneurs decided to combat the economic recession with ingenuity; developing new digital platforms, exploring other work alternatives, offering their services as freelancers, or, even, exchanging their job services for the ones from other professionals. Nowadays, drivers, delivery people, journalists, translators, photographers, carpenters, musicians, graphic designers, software developers or programmers are just an example of some of the workers who join to the 'gig' phenomenon.
The services for which these professionals are hired are temporary, but they are also characterized by their high degree of specialization. Temporality was common in artistic sectors, seasonal jobs and works related to the construction world. However, job instability has also contributed to other professionals with a high educational background adopting this trend. Increasingly, engineers, lawyers, architects or journalists choose to work by projects and independently, because the incomes they get are high, because they have greater flexibility, to overcome obstacles that they find in their traditional sector or as a complement to their wage. Is this the beginning of a new paradigm of professionalization?