Welcome to the New Economy
The American economy is changing. Full-time, salaried positions are disappearing. They’re being replaced by one-off projects and short-term work contracts — the kinds of jobs that exist in what many are calling the “gig economy.”
Is it scary? It can be, especially for workers who are used to the security of a traditional nine-to-five desk job. But as someone who worked in the gig economy for several years, I can tell you that the freelance work model can also open the door to a more spiritually rewarding way of life.
How Big Is the Gig Economy?
According to a recent Forbes report, there are currently about 53 million workers in the U.S. gig economy. By the year 2020, it’s estimated that 50 percent of the workforce will earn at least a portion of their income through freelancing.
While some of the people that are being added to the gig economy work low-paying seasonal jobs (like Amazon warehouse jobs during the holiday rush), others are year-round professionals with expertise in design, coding or (in my case) writing and content marketing.
Why Is the Gig Economy Growing?
There’s no denying the fact that the gig economy offers a more cost-effective labor model for employers. In addition to reducing the cost of benefits, companies now have the flexibility to hire more workers during busy periods and fewer workers during slow ones.
But employers aren’t the only ones clamoring for more freelance opportunities. More and more workers — including scores of millennials — actually prefer contract work to traditional employment because it gives them the freedom to create lifestyles that accommodate their personal, professional and even spiritual needs.
3 Ways the Gig Economy Can Be Spiritually Beneficial
Financial security is a concern for freelancers. But in some ways, the gig economy actually protects workers by providing income from multiple sources. If one employer drops you, you still have several other employers to fall back on.
Just as importantly, the freelance work model can provide several important spiritual benefits:
1. It forces you to engage in community.
At first glance, freelancing seems isolating. Many freelancers work from home and don’t have the kinds of daily interactions that exist in a traditional office environment.
But successful freelancers know they can’t survive alone. They have to participate in communities (online and face-to-face) of like-minded freelancers to find gigs and receive professional support. These communities aren’t unlike spiritual communities — they require openness, selflessness and mutual respect to thrive.
2. Non-traditional work schedules are no problem.
Combining spiritual routines with traditional work routines is no easy feat. From morning prayer and meditation to volunteering and small groups, making time for spiritual activities can be challenging when you have to punch the clock for eight to 10 consecutive hours a day.
The gig economy allows workers to create their own schedules and work routines. If you want to serve lunch at a soup kitchen or meditate from 10:00 to 10:30 each day, you can. It’s up to you whether you work in the morning, the afternoon or the evening. And if you want to take a few days off to travel or go on a retreat, it’s not a problem — provided you can afford to miss the work or take your work with you.
3. You have to exercise faith and trust.
Traditional employment scenarios create a false sense of security. If you’ve worked at the same full-time job for several years, it’s easy to believe that it will always be there — when in fact, the company could downsize, be acquired or go out of business with little warning.
Freelancers don’t suffer from those illusions. They have to constantly exercise faith and trust: faith that their next gig is just around the corner and trust that God will provide for their needs.
Non-traditional work routines aren’t right for everyone. But as the gig economy grows, there will be even more opportunities to create your own work life — a life that’s big enough to accommodate the spiritual activities and commitments that matter to you.