The Real Truth About Solving Gig Economy Loneliness

The gig economy is exploding.

You’ve most likely done a gig or have crossed paths with someone doing it full-time.

In the United States alone in 2018 there were 56 million people working in it.

gig economy graph
Photo Credit: Fast Company

And there’s no slowing down as by 2020 it will make up 43% of the workforce.

With hundreds of lucrative opportunities in companies like Lyft, Airbnb, PostMates, and Fiverr; It’s no wonder why you wouldn’t want to try it out at least once.

For the 3 million active Uber drivers worldwide, all it took to get started was a valid license, smartphone, a pre-inspected vehicle, and final approval… Then Presto! You’ve got a new job without having a single formal interview.

The ultimate gig economy appeal versus your typical 9–5 is this:

Work when you want, how you want. 

It’s the envious freedom at your fingertips that puts you in the driver’s seat of your time and finances.

The only person to answer to is yourself- No more board meetings, dress-codes, rigid work hours, and performance reviews.

You truly become an independent entrepreneur by default.

But is there a cost to having ultimate freedom?

Loneliness: The Dark Side of The Gig Economy

After a strong 23 year run, a harsh shadow of truth has been cast forcing people to take their rose colored glasses off.

The verdict: Being a gig worker can make you 55% more prone to depression than having a stable job.

The most common cause? Loneliness.

gig economy worker depressed

As many similarly reported, Sami describes his experience like this, “It’s very, very lonely — it’s just you inside your box, driving with London traffic, with all this stress. The long-term effect, honestly: it’s like a bomb waiting to explode”.

As a gig worker, you’re all alone communicating with an algorithm. It sends you tasks, monitors performance, and payment- That’s it.

Can it tell how you’re feeling today or discuss workplace problems? Definitely not.

A friendly conversation can occur from time to time with customers. But mainly it’s transactional as one gig worker has said, “Sometimes you don’t feel human. You’re just handing a bag over and some people take the bag, don’t look at you and close the door. And then don’t tip.

Is Relationship Building Going Extinct?

The short answer is no.

Even though it’s on a rapid rise, the gig economy needs relationship building more than ever.

Those thank you notes, team building activities, feedback meetings, and gestures of appreciation may seem superficial.

But on a deeper level, meaningful connections is a fundamental human need directly linked to wellness. It’s the experience of oneness through shared moments, beliefs, and feelings that an automated algorithm can’t replace.

A third of Americans work 45 hours or more weekly, so it only makes sense that companies invest in relationship building to keep their employees happy.

As a gig worker, you are stuck interacting with a soulless algorithm. It creates as psychologists coined a “connection disconnection” creeping up slowly as a hidden killer.

However, the same root that caused the problem can also be the solution. Gig economy companies can use technology to make relationship building opportunities happen.

Here are a couple of effective solutions:

Face to Face Meet-Ups

As of now, there are a ton of unofficial online gig communities where workers can speak their mind and exchange tips. It definitely serves a powerful purpose to give people an outlet to vent and communicate their feelings.

But to really interconnect workers, there’s nothing better than old fashioned face to face meetups. Gig companies can set up local events reminding their workers through email.

Doing this will creates these key benefits:

  • It humanizes the gig experience.
  • Professional growth opportunities by doing live workshops.
  • A sense of belonging is created making happy and appreciative employees.
  • Meaningful connections are made with others eliminating a sense of loneliness.

Personalized Feedback and Appreciation

One of the benefits of app-based gig work is that feedback usually functions on ratings, customer comments, and sometimes tips. Workers are able to get direct feedback in real-time.

However, does this create a human experience that evokes surprise and delight?

Most likely not.

Using those moments of success when a worker hits a milestone is a perfect time to build a connection with appreciation. This doesn’t mean sending a generic gift to them rather evoke emotion- A human experience.

Personalizing with touches like a note, an item related to their hobbies, or something that they would find useful shows two things:

  1. Recognition of their accomplishment as a person, not as a one-dimensional gig worker.
  2. Authentic appreciation by taking an account of their likes and dislikes.

Leveraging these critical moments with gestures of appreciation puts a human element to make the gig worker feel a stronger connection to the company they work for.


The gig economy has it’s proven benefits of putting the power in the hands of the worker to be independent. It might be quickly evolving and growing, but one thing stays the same: Workers are humans and humans need connections and relationships to thrive.

Thnks makes it easy to incorporate gratitude into your daily workflow. In a few seconds, you can search for the perfect gift, personalize a note, and send it off via SMS or email. Interested in learning more? Sign up for a demo today!