Because the on-demand economy has created marketplaces for all types of products and services, it should come as no surprise (especially for users of that tech workers are participants in all facets of the on-demand space known as the “gig economy.” According to, it was once hard for small companies to find freelancers, especially workers overseas. But now because of a wave of on-demand economy companies like Upwork, Wonolo, and 99designs, even the smallest of small businesses can use an app to connect with freelancers.

(Listen to the story below or click to: “Companies offer small startups a way to outsource jobs“)

The upside of “gig workers”

As the operator of RocketSpace, a co-working space for new tech companies, Duncan Logan has seen these small businesses use gig workers for many different things: Set up offices, deliver food, design websites, handle marketing, PR. Logan has noticed that gig hiring follows a pattern. Small companies use lots of freelancers to get off the ground. As the businesses grow, they bring on more full-time people, partly because it looks good for investors. Then if the corporation hits it big, it goes back to outsourcing large chunks of its business.

The downside of “outsourcing”

Rutgers University professor Hal Salzman has a different name for on-demand gig workers: Outsourcing. And he’s not impressed with the new branding. “Outsourcing has become an unpopular word,” Salzman said.  “Recasting it as the ‘gig economy’ sounds much better.” No matter what it’s call, Salzman is not a fan of outsourcing: “The only thing new with these gig websites is that smaller and smaller companies can now cut worker pay and ship out jobs. That’s good for businesses, but bad for society,” he told Marketplace.


(Photo: Josh Hallett via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

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