Gig Economy Trends 2021: The Birth of an ‘Expert Economy’

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With remote working here to stay, is the gig economy trend slowly giving way to a fledgling ‘Expert Economy’? 

If there’s anything the latest corona vaccine developments have emphasized, it’s the elaborate and exhaustive steps involved in bringing a research-based product to market. The discovery and formulation might be tedious in itself, but it’s the post-developmental procedures where expert assistance is absolutely indispensable. Right from running pre-clinical trials, conducting market research and providing expertise on regulatory practices, there’s diverse areas where companies can come unstuck without due diligence and professional counsel.

With topics like climate change and sustainability being widely discussed and debated, innovative products built around the USP of eco-friendly value are on the verge of experiencing a rapid market boom. Technological advancements in myriad other domains are just as exponential, highlighting the growing need for companies to connect with relevant industry experts quickly and efficiently.

A Fragmented Ecosystem

However, here’s where the disconnect between supply and demand is evident. Whilst a massive amount of research in the form of studies and surveys are constantly being conducted and documented across universities and labs, only a small portion of them gain visibility, and transition to becoming a business case, ultimately providing value to a wider community. 

Businesses still resort to traditional avenues of recruitment when it comes to hiring research and academic experts – sounding out universities in the vicinity, referring to LinkedIn or simply reaching out within existing networks.

This severely cripples the recruitment process in more ways than one,

  •  Limits the scope of applicants from which the companies make the final hire, resulting in them potentially losing out on more relevant options 
  • Intricacies of the hiring process, such as paperwork and onboarding, are likely to pose further challenges in kickstarting the actual project. 
  • Lack of time or budget might even prompt smaller companies to look for solutions in-house, leading to inadequate results or delays in meeting market deadlines

So, how exactly can businesses eliminate these inefficiencies, and hire experts quickly? Well, the remote working model brought about by the pandemic might have inadvertently provided an optimum solution.

Gig Economy Trends: Transition to Remote Working

The good news for small businesses is this – The pandemic has opened up a whole new sphere of qualified experts who are looking to re-invent themselves as ‘available on-demand’. 

Although the merits of a liquid workforce, dynamic employees and global talent scouting have been widely discussed in the recent past, companies have traditionally been so overwhelmed at the prospect of even experimenting with this that they’ve stuck with the ‘Don’t fix what’s not broke‘ motto, even though remote working was always touted as something that could enhance productivity and reduce costs.

Until, of course, the global coronavirus pandemic struck. Remote working, previously seen as feasible only for specialized contractors or professionals operating within the gig economy, has now been forced upon organizations across the globe.

The Birth of the Expert Economy

The direct result of this is the gradual change in the pool of talent available in the freelancer ecosystem for companies to scout and tap into. As lockdown restrictions continue and remote working seems on the rise, a greater number of niche experts are joining the erstwhile ‘gig economy‘ pool. Necessity seems to have been replaced by an active desire for talented professionals, such as subject matters experts and research specialists, to gravitate towards flexible schedules and job fulfilment quotas being provided by the rapidly growing remote working model. 

This is not completely unprecedented, either. The late 90’s saw a brief surge in millennials experimenting with the ‘Brand Me‘ concept to prioritize their distinct lifestyle and career requirements over that of employers, resulting in a greater number of talented expert professionals available on-demand

The great recession was also a predecessor of sorts to the pandemic in terms of prompting professionals to explore the freelance sphere, with the gig economy population swelling to almost 16% of the total workforce by 2015. However, the sheer unpredictable arrival and unwelcome overstay of the pandemic has ushered in a major swelling of ranks amongst the flexible worker population. Today, almost 40% of the global workforce earn some form of income as a freelancer, and it is projected that 2027 will see as much as 87.5 million people employed on a freelance basis.

The erstwhile gig economy of contractors and skilled workers is now being replaced by an ‘Expert Economy’ of subject matter experts and industry leaders. Scientific and academic businesses, in particular, seem likely to benefit from the rapid influx of experts, researchers and a wide range of other scientists rebranding themselves as available for flexible hire .

This makes it imperative for businesses to utilize this talent pool, drawing up strategies on how best to discover and optimize any relevant guidance these experts can provide on a wide range of in-house requirements. With qualified subject matter experts and academics slowly transitioning from pure research to more applied areas of work in private sectors, the onus is on businesses to tap into this development and bolster their ranks with freelancers than can help research, review and document their products in order to accelerate end-to-end streamlining and enable faster delivery to market.

Letting the finest liquid talent find you

This is where existing freelancer platforms provide a simpler alternative.

Two-way platforms housing the on-demand experts, such as Kolabtree, also make it easier for businesses to sift through the talent on offer, and reach out to relevant specialists and academics that can help them across the breadth of their business process. With all the grunt work in terms of vetting, reviewing and displaying the talent available being taken care of, businesses also have the option of simply posting a project and waiting for the cream of the crop to reach out to them. 

This instantly offers myriad benefits to businesses hiring from these platforms. The extremely comprehensive screening procedures these platforms employ means they only accept site portfolios from experts operating in reputed universities and labs. However, this does not affect the quantity of experts available on-demand, which is a testament to the number of qualified academics out there. 

Kolabtree, for instance, comprises more than 15,000 freelance consultants across 3,000 disciplines available for hire. This offers businesses the chance to hire a respected specialist from a precise, niche domain matching their requirement, without the need to disclose sensitive information or have any sort of qualms about confidentiality issues.

Such a win-win situation is achieved by intently focusing on the various criteria that go into creating a mutually beneficial outcome – by narrowing down the type of service, price and compatibility between the client and the freelancer. 

With remote working looking like it’s here to stay, and agile workforces creating revolutionary ripples, it’s time for science and technology based businesses to act swiftly. Tapping into a liquid workforce comprising the best global talent can not only prove to be a secure cost-effective option, it can also prove to be the stardust factor that enables them to build cutting-edge products and achieve major scientific breakthroughs.

Read also: Gig Economy: Trends and Future


Kolabtree helps businesses worldwide hire experts on demand. Our freelancers have helped companies publish research papers, develop products, analyze data, and more. It only takes a minute to tell us what you need done and get quotes from experts for free.


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