Top 5 gig economy trends for Australia in 2021

Gig Economy in Australia

It’s a new year. Summer holidays are over. And the workforce is back in full swing. As we said farewell to 2020, we recognise it was a year dominated by coronavirus. But that didn’t stop the steady evolution of workforce trends such as:

  • The dramatic rise of flexible working.
  • The rampant growth in HR tech.
  • The ongoing evolution of gig economy trends.
  • The rising importance of worker ‘wellness’.
  • And a host of other workforce trends.

And as we kick off 2021, these and many more developments are on the cards for the modern workforce.

Of these trends, the gig economy is particularly dominant for Australia’s workforce. So today, we’ve dug a little deeper on the likely developments we’ll see in the gig economy in 2021.

How will things change in this space this year?

How can your organisation benefit?

What’s in it for you?

Hold onto your seat as 2021 is looking to be the year of the independent worker.

And although current estimates place contingent workers at around 25% of the global workforce, this number is expected to grow exponentially to around 40% by the year 2025.

The effects will not only be felt by the employer, the organisation and the individual worker; we’ll also see secondary industries and segments of the market continue to grow.

Here are the top five gig economy trends for Australia, that we think you should be across.

1. The opportunity to better optimise your workforce strategy

This is one of the gig economy trends we’re already seeing in Australia.

The shift from taking on gig or contract workers for ad hoc opportunities, to the strategic planning for and engagement of highly specialised workers.

Organisations will be increasingly interested in tapping experienced, elite workers to achieve business project goals. Rather than taking on an expensive hire with niche expertise on staff, the forward-planning companies will instead optimise output and profitability via the expert consulting model.

These consultant workers will appear in companies of all sizes. And the knock-on effects will be many:

  • A change to the hiring approach, as more contractors will be found in the working population of a business.
  • An increase in remote workers.
  • A shift in leadership skills required to manage this more diverse workforce model.

Strategic workforce planning, which factors in non-employee workers, will become the norm.

Not the anomaly.

It’s one of the gig economy trends your business can’t ignore.

2. The ‘side hustle’ will become more popular

The ‘side-hustle’ is already booming.

What’s a side-hustle?

It’s the supplementary work taken on by individuals, in addition to their primary source of income.

Often, the side-hustle is what’s known as a ‘passion project’ – the type of work individuals desire to perform, which is often different from the work at their typical ‘job’.

Offering side gig opportunities is something organisations will start to tap into: knowing they’re getting a passionate, driven, short-term side-hustler, who will take on project or contingent work with gusto.

With worker demand for the side-hustle on the rise and smart organisations seeing a huge opportunity for awesome productivity and output gains, the side-hustle will prove to be a major win-win in the organisation-worker relationship. It’s one of those gig economy trends in Australia that’s ramping up right now.

And smart organisations will allow their permanent workers to engage in the side-hustle.

Nurturing worker needs in this way will not only foster loyalty but will also allow the organisation to experience the value of both sides of the side-hustle dynamic.

3. Consulting will be the best gig in town

No matter their skills, profession, industry or expertise, we’re going to see a massive rise in workers undertaking consulting gigs: this is one of the leading gig economy trends of 2021 for the Australian workforce.

The shift to gig style consulting jobs is happening in almost every known industry. Outside of technology (where it’s been commonplace for some time), other job categories include:

  • Marketers.
  • Drivers.
  • Tradespeople.
  • Web designers.
  • Copywriters.
  • Lawyers.
  • Finance professionals.
  • Wellness experts.

…among many, many others.

And the accompanying shift involves a diverse breadth of age and stage-of-life of the participating workers.

From millennials seeking flexibility and exposure to diverse corporate experiences to baby boomers who simply don’t want to retire, consulting is the working option du jour for 2021.

This is an exciting shift.

Especially for the organisation.

There’s greater motivation from the worker in this dynamic. With viable skills and experiences, coupled with an impetus for success outside of the job itself, the organisations tapping into this mindset can access highly driven, valuable talent.

4. Growth in Collaborative Workspaces will continue

2021 will see the continued growth of collaborative workspaces. Organisations like WeWork (despite their recent IPO failings), Knotel and others have learnt from the massive growth trajectory of past years, and are setting a course for steady, solid growth activity.

These spaces offer great financial benefits to organisations, who can offload workers from the primary place of business and in the process, drastically reduce their real estate, office management and related people costs.

The perks and value-adds of these environments are being toned down, like free beer and coffee. This is due to the segment looking for consistent growth, rather than the previously seen wild expansion for market reach.

For consultant, gig and freelance workers, collaborative workspaces are a godsend.

The ability to work alongside like-minded individuals, in a modern, open environment is a boon for productivity and motivation, which underpins the success of gig and consultant workers.

5. Flexibility will accompany the increase in gig workers

Workers in the gig economy are typically dynamic, responsive and adaptable in nature. They place a higher value on diverse experiences, learning and personal growth, over success on the corporate ladder, for example.

What goes with this mindset is the expectation of flexibility.

The type of flexibility they seek includes:

  • The opportunity to work remotely.
  • The ability to deliver on a project in flexible time: for example, working whatever hours of the day that suits them.
  • Being able to take time out from a contract gig for learning and development.
  • Sharing the contract deliverables with another worker.
  • Gradual retirement.
  • Taking leave or sabbaticals for professional or personal growth.

Flexible working arrangements are increasingly expected by today’s workers, especially for grassroots talent.

Organisations that get on board will be far more appealing to these workers. In fact, these organisations will gain a competitive talent advantage by embracing not only the gig workers themselves but also the flexible practices they so often demand.

In addition, by not limiting their hiring to full-time employees or traditional employment limitations, these forward-thinking organisations have access to the full scope of talent in the marketplace.

There’s no question Australia’s gig workforce will continue to grow, in line with global trends and expectations.

And from these trends outlined here, you can see this empowered, and often highly motivated component of the workforce, is a major disruptor to the traditional working framework.

Being attuned to these trends and shifts in working practices is a must. Especially if you seek to gain (or maintain) a competitive advantage through the talent you attract to your organisation. For more insight on surviving the gig economy, download our eBook here.


As one of the world’s top suppliers of contingent worker management solutions, CXC is perfectly positioned to optimise all elements of your contingent workforce strategy. With operations in more than 50 countries across 5 continents, and with decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your program.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help with your contingent workforce solutions please contact us here.