Why Gig Work Needs to Demonstrate Loyalty, and How to Do It

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Workers and organizations exist as temporary life companions through numerous cycles of defined duration. Before the pandemic, companies avoided having to provide benefits and full-time salaries for ad hoc work. Gigs requiring less-specialized labor, such as working as a delivery driver, typically attracted minimally trained workers who needed flexibility or supplemental income. And gigs requiring specialized knowledge, such as design work, typically attracted “professional” freelancers who charged a premium rate and often enjoyed lower tax rates for their efforts relative to their full-time employee (FTE) counterparts. While this arrangement has benefited many generations of workers, the pandemic is affecting those at both ends of the gig economy — skilled freelancers and less-specialized laborers — more severely than FTEs, because large numbers of staff redundancies increased the gig worker pool. Early in the pandemic, a flood of these newly unemployed people shifted to high- and low-skill gig work; this glut led to a drop in individuals’ hourly pay due to supply severely outstripping demand — for everyone from marketers to Uber drivers.

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