Ingenuity of the Freelance Workforce


By Denise Romanelli

If you have not heard of Uber, Grub Hub, Airbnb, Peapod, or Lyft, you may be living under a rock.  These initiatives contribute to the concierge economy of providing goods and services almost immediately to your door by using an app.

In today’s digital economy consumers are seeking information, products, and services that meet their individual needs immediately and they can have it just as if they had their own personal concierge.

Who are these people working in this job market?

This employment concept in which people are paid for specific, short-term tasks who may not have, full-time positions make up a growing phenomenon of task-based employment called the gig economy.

This type of freelance, casual employment provides workers flexible hours and control over how much time they choose to work at this new take on freelance employment.

This became popular for the millennial workforce who sought extra income to help with student debt during the financial crisis in 2009 when companies instituted hiring freezes and lowered workers’ salaries and the job market was in a drought.

It’s a way of having several jobs and separate pieces of work on a contract basis which they can find through websites and apps. This may also serve as financial means for part-time employment or a temporary route to full-time work for those in pursuit of the right job.

With fewer full-time choices, this became a means to make ends meet.  The liability for gig workers is the lack of benefits or employment protection rights.

However, for employers, it can be a way of cutting down costs and only paying staff when work is available under zero-hour contracts, an agreement in which a person only works when the employer needs them and has no regular amount of work or working hours.

According to Forbes, The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have accurate numbers of this gig-economy but Intuit estimates them to be about 34 percent of the workforce and by next year will increase to 43 percent.

It’s not clear if this is a good or bad thing for economic development but for millennials seeking a full-time position, it provides a diversity of experiences and new opportunities they crave when they aren’t sure what they want to do.

Don’t think that gig workers are limited to unskilled labor or the younger generation, it also includes high-end independent business talent and those with extensive experience looking for a new opportunity.  There are more people who want to work on projects, and companies should think about how to engage this population to meet their goals.

A great misconception is that nobody who is an independent contractor can be good, however, some of the best people can have the freedom to pick what they want to do on their own terms.

According to TechRepublic, in 2019 more companies will jump on the bandwagon for gig workers to target specific problems, and people taking these jobs will want to sell their services to different companies.

The idea that one permanent individual can do everything you need is unrealistic and companies should consider bringing in skilled workers when they need it.  This could be an efficient way to bring talent to the workplace at a high level but companies must shift from the traditional mentality of employment.


Denise Romanelli has a background as an independent training consultant, community advocate, journalist, and Delaware County Community College adjunct instructor.  She serves as Executive Director of Sun East Charitable Foundation; is a member of Friends of the Delaware County Women’s Commission; and received recognition for her community service commitments throughout her career.

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