I grew up in a family that was very driven and as I was the oldest of three girls, I became responsible very early on. This responsibility and drive have carried me through during my time fueling in the gig economy.
When I had children, I started doing some gig work around counselling and adult education training. I love teaching. It is through gig work that I have built a career in Higher Education. Now I have come full circle and am doing research through a PHD on the matter.
I would always manage to find different pieces of work. I was always busy and quickly moved around from part-time work to short contracts. At one point I was living in Hampshire, travelling to Southampton to lecture in the morning and then going to London in the afternoons, then coming home to a house full of kids. And having to do it daily. I was trying to construct a good living wage from short term contracts.It was exhausting.
My husband is a lawyer and works within the gig economy too. It’s a different set of characteristics. It is very precarious. He earns well as a lawyer, but we’ve had some exceptionally tough times.
The lockdown will have had a tremendous impact on those people that are self-employed or working short term contracts. The thing with the gig economy. At the one end you have the lawyers, the high-class marketers of living in this way. At the other end you have Amazon workers, Hermes deliveries, Uber drivers and a lot of Deliveroo.
The gig economy takes money out of every situation, not paying taxes, reducing incomes. Things are slowly beginning to change but it is still the early stages. It is important for me to share my experience and research. People are managed by machines daily. The gig economy shifts identities, is precarious and can be a difficult place at the best of times.
Rebecca Page Tickell is a Senior Lecturer in Work Based Learning