Authored by: Vanshika Goenka
The Gig Economy. Most people consider it to be the much-desired antidote to a humdrum nine-to-five existence, empowering them to work with freedom and flexibility. Others despise the uncertain nature of gig work and its potential for exploitation. Today, clearly the world is moving towards the gig economy and while it seems like the perfect rescue from a sinister pandemic that shut down the globe, we can't help but wonder, what is the future of a gig workforce going to be like.
To find answers, let’s take a closer look at some interesting aspects of the gig economy and analyse what lies in store ahead.
The gig economy consists of people creating their career pathway through freelance and contract work—wherein the individual is paid per job, or ‘gig’, as opposed to receiving a regular salary or wage from an employer. While the term ‘gig economy’ was coined recently, there has always been a market for freelance, or pay-as-you-work jobs. As a matter of fact, before the industrial revolution and the rise of the employee-employer contract, this type of work was the norm.
If we try to delve into the intrinsics of human nature, it will become evident that the lack of freedom, flexibility and ownership can lead to people feeling dissatisfied and disconnected from their work meaning that full-time employment isn’t for everyone. The rise of the gig economy has made it easier for people to take charge of their work lives, giving them the freedom to work the way they want to. This aspect or feature of the gig economy can be particularly lucrative for creative or skilled professionals such as content writers, web developers, etc. who can optimise the use of their skills through an unbounded work set up.
In full-time employment, the employer essentially owns the employee's skills; they have the right to use them as they desire and as in line with the employment agreement and job title. This way, the employer buys the rights to an individual's skills for a monthly fee which is basically the salary. On the contrary, the gig economy allows individual full control over their skills and knowledge. And more often than not, this allows skilled professionals to increase their income, as their earning potential is unlimited.
Unlike traditional employment, gig work focuses on results rather than black and white processes. Gig workers are assessed and remunerated based on their ability to deliver outcomes, but how they achieve their targets is completely up to them. This allows gig workers to tap into their natural reserves of intuition, creative thinking and self-reliance.
The future of gig work holds great potential because it tends to be more meaningful and rewarding in more than just the monetary aspect. The simple fact that you are building your own brand instead of someone else’s makes this type of work intrinsically motivating in the long run. Also, the biggest advantage of gig work lies in its integration with technology because needless to say, the future of India’s start-ups and its gig economy lies in digital innovations and a robust digitised ecosystem. The government too has been endeavouring to democratise digital platforms across sectors.
A major part of the gig economy, digital marketplaces are now signing up demand-driven service providers skilled in niche areas such as beauty, fitness, plumbing, electrical repairs, etc. and offer these services to consumers on a contractual basis as per requirements. This business model allows for the service providers to communicate with the end-users directly through the app according to their terms and conditions. This opens up a world of opportunities for the freelance workforce.
To conclude, the gig economy has certainly led to the transformation of India’s work culture, with enhanced flexibility and autonomy, overriding the traditional relationship shared between an employer and employee. In a developing country like India, the potential advantages of the gig economy are going to be numerous. Particularly for women, it portends to be an important step towards professional and financial freedom.
Workplaces are changing and so is the way people function at workplaces. The future holds limitless possibilities for the gig economy, as more and more organisations and employees are inclining towards independent work dynamics. It won’t be long before the gig economy becomes the new normal and working full-time will become a rarity.
—Vanshika Goenka is the founder of Kool Kanya, a platform that has evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic to support women and help them build financial security. The views expressed are personal
(Edited by : Ajay Vaishnav)