Temp Workers vs. Gig Workers: What’s the Difference?

There are classification differences and plenty of data to tell us who these workers are and what their priorities are. Across all categories of workers, there will be a range of skills, experience levels, preferences, and processes—so the more you know about what you’re getting with each, the easier it will be for you to find great matches. 

Let’s start by looking at two broad categories: temp workers and gig workers.

Blog Header - Gig and Temp Workers

Who are temp workers?

Temporary workers are hired through temporary staffing agencies, which are meant to “bridge the gap” between companies and temporary workers they need. Their work is typically short-term, by contract, or even indefinite, sometimes called “temp-to-hire.” Temporary workers often apply or take tests to be added to an agency’s pool. Then, they’re matched to opportunities through the agency, which handles things like payroll and scheduling.

Temp workers by the numbers

  • Most (73%) work full-time positions, compared to the overall workforce (74%)1
  • 64% of these workers are filling the gap between other full-time jobs—not necessarily as a first choice
  • In fact, only 20% say flexibility is why they choose temporary work
  • Temporary staffing agencies have an average Net Promoter Score of only 28%—proof companies aren’t always satisfied

It’s pretty clear that a majority of these workers are using staffing agencies to fill a gap between employment opportunities, or are using it as a foot in the door for full-time work. The emphasis is not on flexibility and autonomy, as it is with gig work.

Pros and cons of working with temp workers

The benefit for companies is in offloading much of the time and effort to locate qualified talent. But, it does come with some compromises. Adding a middleman means companies have to put faith in agencies’ vetting processes. There’s also typically some overhead—and what they’re able to offer is only as good as the talent they can retain in their talent pools.

Who are gig workers?

“Gig” workers are a diverse group that can include freelancers, consultants, independent contractors, and sometimes temp workers, too. What they do have in common: the flexibility to pick and choose short-term work arrangements when they want, where they want. 

The gig economy is shaking up the traditional, full-time, long-term employee-employer relationship. Instead, gigs tend to be more project-focused and short-term. These gigs are the new “side hustle” for some, and full-time sources of income for others.

Gig work trends by the numbers

  • 36% of US workers take part in the gig economy and 33% of companies extensively use gig workers.
  • Overall, 53% are Gen Z2—the youngest generation coming into adulthood right now. However, there’s an increase in people who use gigs across all age groups.
  • 55% of gig workers also maintain full-time or regular jobs3
  • 60% of freelancers starting freelancing by choice4

Pros and cons of working with gig workers

One of the most important aspects of the gig economy’s growth is the maturation of mobile technology and apps. Apps make it easy for gig workers to sign up, create a profile, and start accepting work. This provides a direct line between workers and gigs. Gigs can be posted and filled in hours, whether it’s part of the “sharing economy”—for example, Airbnb hosts, Uber and Lyft drivers, and delivery services—or projects with highly skilled contractors such as artists, pet specialists, and food and beverage workers. But that low barrier to entry can come with drawbacks—and one-to-one hiring isn’t a scalable option for companies with bigger needs.

Where does Instawork fit in?

In many ways, Instawork can offer the best of both worlds—the flexibility, transparency, and technology of the gig economy apps along with the oversight and hands-on support of our team. But what really makes us stand apart is the caliber of our professionals.

Instawork Professionals aren’t just different because our platform is. Individually, they bring more to the table. From the experience and career motivations to their accountability and drive, companies who hire through Instawork see the difference. It’s in the numbers, but it’s also in the culture and morale.

Learn more about how Instawork offers a reliable staffing solution, end-to-end.

Instawork is a leading flexible staffing solution located in over 40 metro cities, including California (SF Bay Area, LA, San Diego), Texas (Austin, Dallas, Texas), Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, NJ/NYC Metro, Phoenix, and more.

1 https://americanstaffing.net/research/fact-sheets-analysis-staffing-industry-trends/staffing-industry-statistics/

2 2019 Freelancing in America

3 https://zety.com/blog/gig-economy-statistics

4 https://www.slideshare.net/upwork/freelancing-in-america-2019/1