Working 9 to 5 no more: How the gig economy is changing the workplace

By: Isabell Scheuber, General Manager, Marketing & Operations, Microsoft Middle East & Africa

Here’s a story about thousands of young people across the Middle East and Africa.

For the sake of this story, we’ll call them ‘Ahmed’.

Ahmed is a 23-year-old graduate in Egypt. He’s only been working for a year, but by following his passion for design, and using technology to build his personal brand and connect with clients, his portfolio is already bulging.

Ahmed has embraced the “gig economy” - a working model that involves taking on different jobs for shorter periods of time.

GigEconomy high res

Instead of searching for a full-time job, he’s built a network across the globe, and he’s ready to plug in and get started wherever the work is – without leaving his home in Cairo.

By 2020 millennials like Ahmed will make up 50% of the global workforce, according to PwC. And they’re bringing with them new ways of doing things. After all, they’ve grown up at the same time as mobile technology.

The rise of the gig economy

More affordable computing power and cloud-based services mean people can easily build their own brands and sell their skills to a wide audience. At the same time, social habits have changed, with millennials being more adaptable, open to change, creative and entrepreneurial than their parents.

The result is a desire to embrace careers that give them the opportunity to try new things and explore their passions while making a living.

The best way for them to achieve this is to work on a freelance basis, or at the least change their job roles regularly.

What does this mean for employers?

According to a survey by Microsoft, 93 percent of Millennials said that access to the latest technology was a deciding factor when choosing an employer. 80 percent agreed in taking control of their own career path.

As Millennials increasingly enter the workplace, businesses need to adapt by creating working environments that gives workers mobility, room to create and  make a positive contribution in their roles.

If employers get it right, there is a lot to be gained from embracing the gig economy. It enables SMEs to afford exceptional talent that would otherwise not be affordable in an employee contract.

Injecting a regular flow of external perspectives and fresh creativity helps businesses grow. Interestingly, it’s not only SMEs that are embracing this, but Fortune 500 companies have more than doubled their outsourcing arrangements in the last ten years.

The gig economy in the Middle East and Africa

SMEs are a vital part of the Middle East and African economy. With the biggest youth population in the world and a high rate of youth unemployment, countries in this region rely on small businesses to create jobs.

The gig economy is a great way for youth in the region to develop their skills with international and local experience because they can work remotely from anywhere. This means less unemployment.

Thinking differently about the workplace

With productivity tools and platforms like Office 365 and Windows 10, the workplace is going to become a lot more fun. Collaboration with co-workers with uniquely different skillsets, and across cultures and borders will enliven careers.

Microsoft is looking forward to helping people like Ahmed embrace the gig economy and achieve more with technology. For solutions that can help launch your career into the gig economy, here are some resources:

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