Why the Gig Economy is Coming for Architects, Engineers

It’s official: the gig economy is coming to construction. While other industries are quick to adapt to independent employment, architects and engineers within the construction sector have lagged behind – and that is beginning to change. This is why the gig economy is coming for architects and engineers.

Most of all workers will be independent within the next ten years. The construction industry is set to shift with the rise and fall of the gig economy.

This emerging style of employment opens up new talent pools and international workforces in manufacturing for the first time. This type of gig economy will serve an industry that is in dire need of new workers on the ground.

The project to project the nature of the gig economy coincides perfectly with engineering and architecture.

Hiring this way makes for lean operations, allowing companies to save money. Companies can bid on more projects. Freelancing has already removed barriers to tech – let’s unpack why it’s time to reshape architecture and engineering as freelancing.

Why does globalization work?
The truth is that the gig economy serves to solve a critical industry issue: a shortage of workers. As noted by the World Economic Forum, the ongoing labor shortage includes a lack of talent for designers, architects and higher levels of management.

Labor shortages have “undermined project management and execution, adversely affecting costs, timelines and quality.”

Ultimately, time is money – and the lack of available, skilled workers and professionals is one of the biggest drivers of rising construction costs. Some cost of labor reports estimate the cost to increase by 30 percent annually.

The problem is exacerbated by the current lack of globalization in architecture and engineering – two fields with workforces that largely cross borders.

While Western engineering codes developed slowly over the last century, developing countries adopted those codes and often used them as the basis for their own development.

This bias resulted in nearly identical codes and standards in those countries. For example, Saudi Arabia’s Highway Design Manual is an almost identical copy of the American rulebook, created for cities built on the American city model.

States such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar also adopted a mix of American and British codes for various engineering disciplines, from structural engineering to mechanical and electrical design.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, French engineering standards were used as the basis for building codes in what remains of the colonization. Projects in many developing countries were based entirely on Western engineering standards.

The standard was set which was favorable to the government or the customer, either due to the lack of a standard enforced by the government or due to the inadequacies and deficiencies of the local people.

Copying code to standards around the world translates into engineers and architects with more or less interchangeable skills. This is where freelancing in the field makes sense. The right connection between workers and customers is being created, which is globalizing an industry that is in dire need of labor.

Why does Project Work invite freelancers?
Architecture and engineering may seem like jobs better suited for workers living within the borders of a company or a country. The nature of construction projects means they have start and end dates. Construction has to start from conception, move on to design, then build and complete.

There are designs to be done, and these designs are just a bunch of work done by the various engineers and architects on the project team. The project is then broken down into specific roles: architect, structural engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, geotechnical engineer, draftsman, and more.

Set tasks and set deadlines means that engineering and architecture align with the framework of the gig economy. The concept of the gig economy is based on hiring for specific jobs, but over the past decades, it has been dominated by the tech sector. Engineering and architecture naturally lagged behind because they were not related to anything that had anything to do with the information age.

But this is slowly changing as there is more demand for engineering and architecture on freelancing platforms. If the trend continues, it is only a matter of time before global industries become connected and work together on construction projects.

Even before the rise of the gig economy, companies in this industry used to outsourcing work and design jobs to other firms overseas or locally. Online platforms streamline this process and unlock global workforce.

Employees win, companies win.
There are a lot of macro and micro trends that affect whether or not companies are building at any given time.

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