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Opinion

The ‘gig economy’ is coming. What will it mean for work?

By Arun Sundararajan

Arun Sundararajan headshot article

...it is clear we must rethink the provision of our safety net, decoupling it from salaried jobs and making it more readily available to independent workers.

Not so long ago, the only people who looked for “gigs” were musicians. For the rest of us, once we outgrew our school dreams of rock stardom, we found “real” jobs that paid us a fixed salary every month, allowed us to take paid holidays and formed the basis for planning a stable future.

Today, more and more of us choose, instead, to make our living working gigs rather than full time. To the optimists, it promises a future of empowered entrepreneurs and boundless innovation. To the naysayers, it portends a dystopian future of disenfranchised workers hunting for their next wedge of piecework.

In the US, the “gig economy” is now so salient that the phrase and issues have entered the early exchanges of the presidential race. Earlier this month, as one frontrunner, Jeb Bush, took a well-publicised Uber ride to signal solidarity with the company, another, Hillary Clinton, was more cautious in her support. In a speech laying out her economic plan, she said: “This on-demand, or so-called gig, economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation. But it is also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”

Read the full article as published in The Guardian.

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Arun Sundararajan is a Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences, NEC Faculty Fellow, and Doctoral Coordinator of IOMS-Information Systems.