The ‘Gig’ Economy Expanding in the Koots

We at Imagine Kootenay make it our mission to convey not only what is amazing about making life and work here in these fabulous Koots, but how you can actually make it happen.

With a solid technology infrastructure as foundation – boasting incredibly fast, high-speed broadband throughout most of the region – the Kootenays allows for business development and work in sectors well beyond those we’ve previously held so dear in commodities based industries. While the area still enjoys tremendous resource based opportunities, we’re seeing exciting diversification with tourism and technology, not to mention innovation in resource industries, making broad gains and employing creativity and innovation in expanding the economy.

The ‘gig’ economy taking a greater hold in the Kootenays

Given the trend away from the traditional work week and heading to the office 9-5, as these economic drivers steadily grow and evolve, it becomes increasingly appealing for workers to look to the Kootenays for work that is more flexible – to take full advantage of our world-class outdoor recreation! – enjoys more autonomy and is less and less reliant on the 9-5, 40-hour work week, model. As a result, independent, contract or workers looking gig to gig to make a living is a growing trend in the region.

Thus, the name: the ‘gig’ economy.

With our superior, high-speed fibre Internet and a culture incredibly receptive and welcoming to innovative entrepreneurs, startups and new business, this emerging ‘gig’ economy in the Koots is definitely finding legs. Along with a number of organizations region-wide offering not only financing opportunities but valuable mentoring and incubator programs; and the proliferation of state-of-the-art co-work spaces geared to contractors and remote workers; there is ever-increasing support and encouragement to provide for more and more opportunity in a variety of independent work and entrepreneurial disciplines.

The rising ‘gig’ working trend was confirmed on an international basis recently, with the release of a report conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute. To get a better idea the variety of ways ways people are earning income, as well as the challenges independent work and this new ‘gig’ economy brings to bear, they delved into the professional lives of some 8000 respondents across Europe and the United States.

Earning a living transformed from generations past

The Information and Digital Age has transformed how people work and earn their income. It’s becoming rare to find those individuals who work nine to five for a single employer through the length of the their professional lives. Professional life today bears very little resemblance to that of our parents, and certainly, our grandparents.

Making a living today often involves various income streams and, more and more often, working independently, rather than in structured payroll jobs. While it may not be an entirely new phenomenon, it has never been accurately measured in official statistics—and the resulting data gaps prevent a clear view of a large share of labor-market activity.

To better understand the independent workforce and what drives those workers who participate in it, participants were asked about their income in the past 12 months—encompassing primary work, as well as any other income-generating activities—and about their professional satisfaction and aspirations for work in the future.

The resulting report, Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy, finds that up to 162 million people in Europe and the United States—or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work. While demographically diverse, independent workers largely fit into four segments: free agents, who actively choose independent work and derive their primary income from it; casual earners, who use independent work for supplemental income and do so by choice; reluctants, who make their primary living from independent work but would prefer traditional jobs; and the financially strapped, who do supplemental independent work out of necessity.

Independent, ‘gig’, workers some of the happiest

Not surprisingly, reporting the greatest satisfaction with their work lives were those who worked independently by choice (free agents and casual earners). They showed significantly more satisfaction than those who do it out of necessity (the reluctants and the financially strapped). This finding was consistent across countries, ages, income brackets, and education levels. Free agents, enjoying the lifestyle and non-monetary advantages of working on their own terms, reported higher levels of satisfaction in multiple dimensions of their work lives than those holding traditional jobs by choice.

While this digital transformation unfolds, several other forces could fuel growth in the independent workforce: the stated aspirations of traditional workers who wish to become independent, the large unemployed and inactive populations who want to work, and the increased demand for independent services from both consumers and organizations.

The Kootenays is incredibly receptive and uniquely prepared to embrace the trend. Enthusiastically pursuing economic diversification while offering exceptional lifestyle opportunity, making a living in the Koots – gig or otherwise – is pretty darned appealing… and more viable than ever!

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