Freelancers, Independents, Gig Workers, Self-Employed: What are We?

I'm lobbying for the term "independent workers" as the overarching term for people taking on work outside of a traditional employee/employer relationship. I think this term highlights the responsibilities (and freedoms) that many, and a growing number of us, take on.

From gardeners to gurus, more and more work is done by hybrid teams of independent and traditional workers. Our educational system, government safety nets, and organizational designs need to shift to do this well. Too much to handle in one bite, but let's start with the term. What do you think about independents or independent workers (and noting that this is much more than "independent contractors")?

The recent Freelancing in America: 2017 survey highlights that "Gig" workers is not the best way to describe the 57.3 Million Americans who work in non-traditional employment situations.

This chart, built by the United Kingdom's Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), shows the variety behind what we call self-employed... and I'm smiling here, what they describe in their report as "selfies."


Looking forward to your thoughts -- and the chance to 1. read Marion McGovern's Thriving in the Gig Economy, and 2. reread Steve Barley and Gideon Kunda's book, Gurus, Hired Guns, and Warm Bodies: Itinerant Experts in a Knowledge Economy. Gurus and gigs are important parts of this expanding work ecosystem and I'm looking forward to good ways to think about the nuances.