These are unprecedented times.
On 16 March, the Prime Minister urged a nation to reshape its very way of life. As part of the fight against coronavirus, anyone who is able to work from home should now do so. If someone develops a fever or persistent cough, they and the rest of their household must quarantine themselves for 14-days. We should also avoid all non-essential travel and social contact, as well as pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas and any large gathering. It’s stark, and by the time you read this, the situation might have evolved even further.
Yet, as whole sectors face a scary and uncertain future, the gig economy is now more important than ever. For people forced to self-isolate, goods and services provided by a fleet of independent contractors may genuinely represent a lifeline. Meanwhile, for the hundreds of thousands of workers in affected industries, gig work could be the quick solution they need to avoid indefinite unemployment.
Whether you have previous experience in the gig economy, or need new opportunities amid COVID-19, getting started is easy and straightforward. It’s a marketplace paid by the task or project, and powered by hardworking people like you. To maximise earnings, many gig workers hold several temporary roles at once. At a time like this, it pays to be flexible.
Here are five steps you can take right now to find reliable gig work, plus examples of roles to consider.
How to find gig work
1. Network (from a distance)
Many companies able to operate remotely have already ditched the bricks and mortar. But that doesn’t mean there’s no work to be done. In fact, while several sectors have ground to a halt as a result of COVID-19, others (think supermarkets and delivery firms) are in overdrive.
Mine your personal and professional networks to see what companies and industries are in need of a helping hand. Set up numerous meetings (obviously, switching the coffee date for a Skype chat is a no brainer), as you might be surprised to discover what freelance jobs are in high demand. In doing so, you can lessen the burden for a company that’s reaching breaking point, while making sure you don’t skip a single pay cheque.
2. Join an online marketplace or on-demand app
In the age of self-isolation, apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo will emerge as the (unofficial) fourth emergency service. Perhaps more importantly, the continued – if not increased – demand for quality food will keep many eateries afloat, and supply work for delivery drivers right across the UK.
As well as the above apps, there are nationwide firms like JustEat and Food Hub – that deliver food on-demand from just about anywhere – not to mention your local takeaway and Domino’s Pizza. Supermarkets that struggle to restock shelves fast enough or fulfil online orders will cry out for temporary staff, too. Elsewhere, registering on online marketplaces like TaskRabbit could present all manner of diverse gigs – from deep cleaning empty offices to walking dogs and running errands for people in quarantine.
3. Update your profile and portfolio
The next few months will be a time of extraordinary disruption, but time nonetheless. Use it wisely – update your CV, portfolio and any social media profiles used for work. Crucial to broadcast your availability for new work, it’ll also show off your skills. In the gig economy, juggling multiple projects is admired and expected, so letting a prospective employer know you’re talented and reliable will set you apart.
Read more: 6 Universal Rules for Writing Your CV
4. Consider your transferable skills
Now is not the time to pigeonhole yourself. Think about the range of skills you draw on daily to complete your varied jobs, and how you can apply them somewhere new. For example, if time spent as a rideshare driver honed your skills as a savvy communicator, explore opportunities where you can apply these strengths – like a call centre, or in customer service. There’ll be plenty of frontline companies in need of temporary staff, so think big.
Read more: 10 Best Skills to Include on a CV
5. Keep a routine
Going from a fixed 9-5 to something more abstract is tough, but you can stay motivated and productive with a regular schedule. Reclaim this power with a set wake-up time, meticulous to-do list and timed breaks each day. Keep a calendar of virtual meetings, stay updated on opportunities and boost your focus with things like a Pomodoro Timer.
No one said the next few months will be easy. Far from it. Yet by taking the steps outlined above, you can unearth various roles in the gig economy, and turn crisis into opportunity. Do so, and you can create the work, income and peace of mind you need – at the time you need it most.