“As individuals have more flexible options in how and where they work, we must continue to look at new ways of looking at our community”
You may have been hearing more and more about a gig economy. A ‘gig economy’ is a new way employers and employees are looking at doing business, where temporary or contract positions are the new norm and both parties enjoy the flexibility. It’s an economy where businesses can save resources by reducing benefits, office space and training and employees can choose interesting short-term projects and work from virtually anywhere.
By 2020, it’s anticipated 43 per cent of workers will be independent contractors, up from the current 34 per cent in 2016. We saw this trend with the last provincial downturn – people moved from full-time positions to owning businesses or contracting out their services (be it on their term or due to layoff). Airdrie already has more than 1,500 homebased entrepreneurs and 42 per cent of these entrepreneurs have reported that their homebased business is their primary source of income. Theses residents and businesses have already decided that Airdrie is the place to be!
People joke about millennials wanting to go to yoga instead of to work, as younger generations are seeking something different than the traditional 9 to 5. This can be said for workers nearing the end of their careers as well. They are looking for job satisfaction, freedom, independence and an opportunity to use their skills across a broad range of industries and sectors. They want to work on what is interesting to them, on their terms. Walk into any coffee shop and you’ll notice how many people are conducting business on a laptop. The rise of Uber, Airbnb and other disruptive technologies has created opportunities for people to work on a full-time or part-time basis, when and where they want.
The digital age has also made it easier to work differently. With the ability to work remotely we are no longer tied to our desks for our employment. This allows for a new quality of work-life balance for workers and allows employers to hire the best and the brightest for their projects no matter where they live.
In Airdrie’s Economic Strategy 2018-2028, launching this fall, we want to ensure that Airdrie continues to be the place to be, by supporting a strong entrepreneurial community and make our city a great choice for residents and businesses. As individuals have more flexible options in how and where they work, we must continue to look at new ways of looking at our community; whether it is around increasing the capacity of fibre, or how we look at our housing products, downtowns and retail spaces. We must keep looking forward and ensure that we have the tools necessary for all of our workers and local businesses to succeed locally, regionally and internationally.
Kent Rupert is Economic Development team leader with the City of Airdrie