Depending on which face of the coin you represent, gig economy may be the best or the worst thing that could occur in the workplace culture. For some, it may be a blessing in disguise, helping to battle the lack of freedom and flexibility, while others see it as a potential road for exploitation.
Gig economy implies a situation which has more number of individuals choosing to go the freelancing and contract way of work. In such cases, people are paid per job/task/gig instead of receiving a fixed, regular salary from the employer. Although the term may be relatively new, the pay-per-job system has been in existence for a long time. Recently, there has been a resurgence of the gig economy as the young generation is choosing a more varied, flexible, unpredictable career path over the traditional choices. And needless to say, this change in attitude has been highly intensified by modern mobile technology and new applications which connect gig workers and potential clients.
The good of Gig Economy:
Full-time employment, though associated with security and stability, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The lack of freedom, flexibility, and ownership in a 9-to-5 job can prove to be unsatisfactory for some people. So, the emerging gig economy has helped such people to take the reign of their work life in their hands and provides them the freedom to work as per their preferences, helping them leverage their skills to the optimum. This could increase their earnings, as gig workers are paid on their capacity to deliver the results. On the other hand, it’s a boon for the employers as having a contractual worker is any day much more cost-efficient than hiring a full-time employee. The employer saves on paying the taxes, or worker’s compensations, lower overheads etc. implying that a lot of money, resources and time is saved, yet can get their work done without too much liability.
The challenges of Gig Economy:
Just like everything else that goes hand in hand, there is also a more challenging side to this increasingly popular mode of work. The first one being the most obvious, is the lack of steady wages, no paid sick leaves, no benefits, and financial insecurity as a whole. The application-driven platforms have provided access to the gig economy to almost all spheres of employees, irrespective of their skills or experience. However, the gig economy is also quite infamous for its perceived exploitation of workers. This tends to put the gig workers in a quite vulnerable position and poses challenges for them to make ends meet on a daily basis along with an uncertain long-term picture. The amount a gig worker is able to earn depends on their skills, and the opportunities present, without a safety net of minimum wages, basic employee rights etc. Also, many of the jobs in the gig economy require no special skills or knowledge, meaning almost any person can do it, leading to huge competition.
Gig Economy as the future of work:
The way individuals prefer to work is changing. Millennials are tolerable to change, risks, uncertainty, and also strive to achieve some sense of ownership in their work. Coupled with the fact that they have grown up in a world shaped by the internet and technology, it’s quite clear that the gig economy is here to stay and grow by the hour. Organizations will be pushed to turn more agile, with no provision of a large workforce of full-time employees. Leaders will have to dip into pools of global talent, to fill in their worker gaps, and gig workers will deliver such projects with short-term contracts. Adding automation into this mix, it is quite evident that we will have a job market that is unpredictable and uncertain. This is why freelance and project systems are deemed as the future of work.
Gig Economy and the current COVID-19 situation:
The recent critical situation has seen a boom in the gig economy. From being food/grocery/medicine delivery agents to the essential economy’s frontrunners, gig workers have been providing both essential and non-essential services, ensuring contactless deliveries and travelling empty streets as the virus takes over the world. More skilled employees are taking up gigs in the field of IT, arts, graphics, marketing etc. and offering their services from the safety of their homes.
So, success in the emerging gig economy, both in the present and in the future, boils down to the presence of the relevant skills. In the future, employers & employees both should be prepared to adapt themselves to this new way of working.