Independent Work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy

Anyone who has ever felt trapped in a cubicle, annoyed by a micromanaging boss, or fed up with office politics has probably dreamed of leaving it all behind and going it alone. The intensifying demands of corporate life are making this option more appealing for millions of workers around the world. Today, potentially transformative new digital platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, and Upwork are creating larger, more transparent, and more efficient marketplaces to connect freelancers with buyers of their services. Independent work has seldom been the focus of policy, in part because the many permutations of such arrangements make it difficult to measure and pin down. MGI set out to illuminate this part of the economy by surveying more than 8,000 respondents across six countries. The results provide the most detailed view available to date on who participates in independent work, why they do it, and whether they are satisfied with their careers. With actions taken by all stakeholders to ease the transition to independent work, it could be a win-win for workers, companies, and the economy.


Access the Research publication

Independent Work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy
McKinsey (2016), Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy, McKinsey Global Institute, Brussels, San Francisco, Washington and Zurich.


  • Research publication, Case study-worker
  • United States, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Spain
  • Yes
  • no specific sector focus
  • worker demographics, income, motivation for platform work, work intensity, working time quality, work-life balance, autonomy and control
  • English
  • McKinsey (Research institute)
  • Quantitative research
  • 2016
  • Open access
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