Everyone wants freedom, flexibility, work-life balance, control and loves to be his own boss, which we often label as ‘’ dream job’’. In a rapidly changing world and work environment more and more people, globally, are opting for ‘gigs’ which are one-time, short-term assignments or projects. Skilled labour is the very foundation on which our economy rests. The same holds true for the freelance market. A ‘Gig Economy’ is a temporary condition in which flexible jobs become a routine in job market as companies tend to hire independent contractors and freelancers instead of hiring full-time permanent employees.
How does it work?
‘Gig Economy’ weakens the traditional market of full-time workers who earn their bread and butter from a permanent and fulltime employment, in which they not often change jobs and instead focus on a lifetime career. In progressive countries in world the trend of a gig economy has begun. An in-depth study has predicted that by 2020, forty percent of American workers would be independent contractors. Even in India, we are seeing the trend of more and more people opting to work independently. Many people are into supplying food to offices and homes; quite a few are into healing business, beauty parlours, some are driving cars. Some of these people have been laid off by corporate, and some are unable to get visas to work in other countries – these are part of gig economy.
India needs billions of jobs, and it can only be produced by self-employment – the gig economy. We are living in a digital age. Majority of the workforce is equipped with mobile phones, they can be contacted from anywhere, therefore job and location can be linked easily. Freelancers can select among many temporary job offers and projects around the world, employers can select the best individuals for specific projects from a larger pool that is available in any given area. Digitalization has also contributed directly to employment as software replaces quite a lot of manual work and this consumes less time and lesser errors. Many manual clerical jobs can be done sitting at home. Gig economy helps business firms in reducing financial pressures which lead to retrenchment of staff.
Helps both business and workers
Organizations save heavily by hiring contract labour and freelancers; lot of saving is achieved on account of high-priced office space, staff welfare, training and development, electricity, water etc. Also, organizations are at liberty to hire the ‘best’ talent in market who might be difficult to maintain on pay roll because of their cost and other demands. And even from the perspective of employees gig economy helps in balancing work-life. Idyllically, the model of gig economy is a win-win for both workers and organizations. It helps both to select the best job and best worker without attaching any strings. Both can pick up any temporary gigs they can.
Another force leading to gig economy is the millennial generation’s entrance in the job market that tends to change jobs several times. The gig economy is a solution to this condition.
The gig economy is part of a shifting cultural and business environment that also includes the sharing economy which is an economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet. Gig economies can also shift into gift economy which is a mode of exchange where valuables are not traded or sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. This also disseminates into a barter economy or a market economy, where goods and services are primarily exchanged for value received.
Indian labour market is seeing a shift towards gig economy, with an increasing number of workers seeking contractual or freelancing opportunities, and services sector is embracing it at the fastest pace, says a report. Employees are increasingly willing to sacrifice the additional benefits that come with a permanent job, such as gratuity or health insurance, in swap over for a greater amount of flexibility. According to some global job sites, recruiters too prefer their remote work programmes. People are opting for part-time jobs and these are seeing a seasonal trend in contractual hiring in the services sector, where jobs of this nature increase towards the close of the year and remain relatively low at other times. They see a spurt between the span of November to February. Sectors such as media, real estate, legal, hospitality, technology-help, management, medicine allied and educations are operating already in gig culture.
Uber is synonymous with Gig Economy
If there is one company that is synonymous with the gig economy, it is Uber. It lets you use your personal vehicle to start earning money through its Uber Partners app. This is a very flexible platform that allows you to choose when and where you drive and set your own schedule. Uber also has a generous referral program for bringing in new drivers and customers. Uber has entered many nations in world and has given spurt to other cab companies such as Ola, Tab Cab, City Cab, Priyadarshini etc. There are many other e platforms such as ServiceSutra, UrbanClap, On-Call, Timesaverz and Quikr etc which send workforce to the destination where they are required. So, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, housemaids, gardeners, cleaners, beauticians, healers, physiotherapists…..you name it and these e service providers send you the required workforce. There e-companies partner with the workers who complete their work and leave with their fees.
From being just another handyman, gardener, carpenter, electrician or beautician these workers have become individual brands, marketing their skills and talent. They get recognized by hirers and are seldom in demand because of satisfied customers. The e-platforms beautifully word their profiles on websites along with their specialization and pictures. These professional have multiple platforms for listing their names, in case they become dissatisfied with the present arrangement, and they immediately switch on to another.
Paves way for creative destruction
At least for present time gig economy will stay on. In the digital age things move fast; people have no patience, everyone wants things to fix. As these alternative employment models mature, new ones will crop up. The concept of creative destruction (new technology dislocates old technology) is only half of Joseph Schumpeter’s message. We have not yet understood his point: his point that entrepreneurs will disappear as innovation becomes mechanized in corporate labs – as it has today in Japan and that ultimately the very success of capitalism will create socialism needs some serious thinking.