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Maybe gig plus grey could gear up our productivity poser

Michael Loftus assesses the potential impact of the so-called 'gig economy'

Hillary Clinton has been flagging up the issues associated with the 'gig economy'

Time was, when presented with the absolutely bleedin' obvious as being something devastatingly original, one responded with a mild sneer and an observation that referenced Moliere, M Jourdian the Bourgeois Gentilhomme and the latter's delighted discovery at an advanced age that he has been speaking prose for all of his life.

This, if embellished with a quasi-Gallic shrug and perhaps the lingering scent of a Gitanes cigarette, was all that was required to support an impression of sophisticated international wit and led to inevitable and lasting success with the leddies (I have this last point as hearsay only. No direct experience. Other approaches are available).

What brought all this to mind was an article in one of the heavyweight Sunday's about something called the gig economy.

The article was by an academic who (surprise, surprise) had a book out about this gig economy thing.

Moreover, Hillary Clinton, no less, has been flagging up the issues associated with said gig economy in a recent speech.

Reading this stuff, I find - with a delight that matches that of M.Jourdain's realisation of his own competence in prose - that I am already a player in this gig economy.

And there was me thinking I was embedded in a portfolio career. (By the way, is that still a 'thing'? Having only lately and tardily connected to Twitter I may have missed some vital advice to the effect that the portfolio career is no longer supported. Maybe, someone could let me know?)

However - and sparing my own blushes no more than Mr Jourdain's, I also find that it's been around - this gig economy thing - for even longer than I have been flailing around at it.

Google throws up references from as long ago as 2009, for goodness' sake.

What's more, things like Uber and Airbnb are all a part of it, too. That's me up there with these giants of the modern business models and standing shoulder to shoulder (well, maybe shoulder to metatarsal) with the most compelling trends in the economy.

The sharing economy is in there too somewhere, I am sure.

Anyway, the essence of the gig economy is that you don't have a proper job but you try to knit experience, knowledge, connections and the like into a makeshift net and you then chase frantically around, trying to snare a modest amount of cash into the said net.

So, like you know that rock stars have riders to their contracts that define the conditions for their own gigs.

Like Van Halen demand no brown M&Ms in their back stage sweeties? The gig economy meets the gig economy when you get yourself hired just to separate out the M&Ms. OK?That's gig-gig.

More venerable greybeards may be rubbing their greybearded chins and muttering to themselves "But isn't that just what we always used to call freelancing?"

Too true. Though now its more freefall-lancing that just free-lancing. And it's what was probably known in Moliere's own day as living by your wits.

However, given that as all folk know absolutely everything is rendered shiny new and wonderful by giving a hip name and attaching it to the internet, it's the gig economy from now on in.

And the gig economy is either the most liberating development for humankind ever or the blackest, bleakest cloud, raining despair, depression and doom down on us and bringing the horseman of the Apocalypse cheerfully in its wake - as aspiring-President Clinton has warned.

However - as here's the serious nub for anyone who has stuck with me so far.

There is a part of society for whom the gig economy could unambiguously be rather a jolly good thing.

I mean folk who have bent down to the Man far enough and for long enough to pay off a mortgage, see the kids through education and maybe extract a modest pension and, despite all of that, find themselves with energy, experience and enthusiasm in abundance which our economy could still benefit from - but which could come now in a far more flexible and fluid way.

In the economic stratosphere, real experience is hugely valued (and rewarded).

To take just one recent example, Barclay's new executive chairman is 68.

There are swathes of other experience available on tap - and requiring less 'goldplatedness' than John MacFarlane and to which the structures of the gig economy can provide access.

And who knows? Maybe, the sprinkling of that gig economy experience in the right places might help address our persisting productivity problems. Worth a fuller exploration maybe.

Michael Loftus is director of News from the Future

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