From Side Gigs to Sustainable Paths

From Side Gigs to Sustainable Paths: Gig Economy Insights from GravyWork’s Founder

GravyWork’s found and CEO, Alex Atwood, was recently featured on an episode of the Jazzed About Work podcast from NPR. In this episode, Alex recounts his experience and background in temp staffing and also provides unique insights into the gig economy – namely, that it’s been around a lot longer than most people realize and his perspective on the shifts in trends for who is considering the gig economy and how it differs from what he’s seen in the past. 

Check out the podcast episode on Apple podcasts or on the podcast episode website

The Workers are the Heart of the Operation  

GravyWork was born out of personal experience in the staffing industry and a desire to provide opportunities for both workers and local employers. Alex gained firsthand experience with staffing as he watched his mother take on temp work and eventually open up her own staffing agency. Having himself worked temp shifts and various gigs and inspired by his mother’s drive to create her own staffing company, Alex recognized there was a gap between available jobs and job seekers, along with a need for reliable personnel to fill these roles. This realization led to Alex’s commitment to building a sustainable, worker-centric business model. 

Additionally, Alex also gained a profound understanding of the importance for leadership and growth. In looking around at the jobs he was working at, he realized that most companies suffered from poor leadership and a high degree of turnover, which then impacted the quality of every operation. So when he started his own staffing company, he decided to do things differently. Instead of being purely profit-focused, he was going to be people-focused. Part of that approach involved creating an environment that was open and transparent and gave a forum for people to be able to provide their thoughts in a healthy way. In addition to that, training was (and still is) a huge part of the GravyWork culture. By investing time and energy into worker training to help them upskill, workers then increased their earning potential down the road. An additional byproduct of this ethos is that the businesses that worked with GravyWork were thrilled at how skilled the workers were. Win win!  

Gig Economy Insights from an Industry Veteran 

In looking at the gig economy and the current state of work in recent times, there is one thing that is routinely forgotten. The ‘gig economy’ has been around far longer than the term itself. However, the reasons and motivations behind those that participate in the gig economy have expanded beyond what was seen in the past. 

When Alex first entered the temp staffing world, he saw that there were generally three categories when it came to the motivations behind participating in temp work:

  1. Folks who had full-time jobs, but wanted extra money for college tuition, Christmas presents, or other expenses. These individuals would take on weekend temp jobs to monetize their time as much as possible and were working temp jobs on top of their full-time job.
  2. People coming into the country and seeking a way to sustain themselves for a period of time. Often, he would see people work for 6-8 months, sometimes up to a couple of years, and send money back to their families where they were from. Eventually they would go back and spend time with their families after being away for a significant period of time working. At the end of the day, this was the gig economy because there was a need for a short-term job assignment, but it just wasn’t called that at the time.
  3. Those who were looking for opportunity and get their foot in the door to gain experience. These folks often engaged in training and were eager to get started and upskill. 

Emerging Trends in the Gig Economy 

While the gig economy and temp work still attracts those with the reasons and needs listed above, we are also seeing new reasons and motivations emerge. Namely, those who are simply looking for more variety in their work life that allows them to gain experience in a new area than what they are currently doing. An increasing number of people are leveraging the gig economy to ‘try on’ new jobs or career paths without the risk of dropping everything and completely starting over. There is a flexibility there that allows more people than ever to give something a try and see if it’s for them while still maintaining their current 9-5. 

It seems much more common recently that people are engaging in the gig economy partly for the compensation and partly for the change, or as we have seen quite a bit in the tech sector, because of layoffs. Due to the increase in layoffs and a very tough job market in certain industries, more people are looking at different ways to make a living, which makes the gig economy more appealing to those that maybe would not have given it much thought. Return to the office also seems like an emerging factor in people choosing gig work, especially when long commutes are involved. More people are considering other options and looking for greater flexibility and control over their day. 

If you open up the gig economy to the online space, this provides an even greater pool of opportunities for people to engage in flexible work. This also brings into play another trend – turning your passions and hobbies into something that can generate income on your terms. There was a time where this was not an option. More and more people are realizing that they can turn their hobby into a side gig that is incredibly lucrative and fulfilling at the same time. 

While the gig economy has been around since the dawn of temp work, there are some interesting emerging trends and shifts in the motivations of those who are choosing gig and temp work. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love the podcast episode. Check it out on Apple Podcasts or visit the episode page and give it a listen! 

Interested in learning more about our services and how we can help your hospitality business with staffing? Get in touch and learn more about what we do here – https://gravywork.com/get-a-quote