What is it really like to work in the gig economy?

Behind the scenes of the gig economy

The desire for flexible working that allows individuals to choose when and where they work has resulted in a real boom for the so called ‘gig economy’ in recent years. Our research ‘To gig or not to gig: Stories from the modern economy’, published in March, found that approximately 1.3 million people across the UK are engaging in flexible ‘gig’ work. In order to gain a deeper understanding of what it’s really like to work in the gig economy, the CIPD is exploring this question through a short series of photographic journals that will be published over the next month.

Told through the eyes of ‘gig’ workers, we will feature the stories of Susie, a voiceover artist who has spent years working freelance and honing her skills; Elle, a recently graduated artist who is utilising odd job platforms, while she searches for something more permanent and David, a self-taught web developer who focuses on building his skills to ensure he remains relevant in the ever changing world of work. Through their personal experiences we explore key issues such as employment rights, voice, job security, pay and well-being; uncovering what it’s really like to work in this way, and exploring the opportunities and challenges that ‘gig’ workers face.

These stories provide a human perspective on this modern type of work; giving insight into what works well and what needs to change in order to create better quality jobs for individuals in alternative employment contracts. As well as painting an accurate picture of what is it is really like to work in this way, these journals also provide us with a compelling evidence-base to support the ongoing debate with policy makers and businesses to shape policy and regulation and more broadly, the future of work.

The recently published Taylor review of modern working practices has shone a light on some of the core issues confronting the world of world; highlighting the need for strong employment relationships and culminating in a call to prioritise good work for all. Our new photo-journals will focus on some of these key issues, asking questions around how workers in different types of ‘gig’ work manage aspects such as work-life balance, income, healthcare and pensions. They provide the workers’ points of view on their experiences of working in the ‘gig’ economy and what they would change.

To read these stories, please visit our gig economy hub.

Topic pages

The gig economy hub

The gig economy is a relatively new concept but could be a game changer in the world of work. Explore the questions, and answers, to the issues that this new way of working raises

Read more

Photography and research conducted by Curtis James, Fieldwork, on behalf of the CIPD