The gig economy has become one of the hot topics being discussed in the market lately. People have so many questions about it: what exactly is the gig economy? What are the pros and cons of it? Is it good or bad for both the workers and for businesses? And most importantly what are the factors that are involved in the rapid growth of it. Many sections need to be explored to develop the whole picture of this sector. And since it is still in its developing phase, we have to dive deeper into its concepts to be able to answer the above questions.
Statistics show that India has emerged as the second-largest market for freelancers while contributing 40% of the total freelancing jobs offered worldwide and the fifth largest country to be involved in flex staffing. It is estimated that the gig economy will grow by 17% CACR, generating a gross sum of ~$455 bn by 2024. Every survey that has been conducted projects towards its ever-growing graph and a large section of people choosing to work as freelancers, contractors or temporary workers. There have also been changes in the business and corporation sector as many are moving ahead with hiring talented and skillful workers.
But the truth is, all that glitters is not gold. Although there has been a massive shift in the economy yet there are many who consider the gig economy as a road to exploitation rather than just seeing it as a change that people are embracing. Certainly, there are several drawbacks to it which need to be addressed to fully comprehend whether it is good or bad.
Let’s take a look at all the necessary aspects in order to answer the above questions.
The Good Side
While discussing the benefits of the gig economy or the bright picture it paints, it is essential to consider the perspective of the workers as well as that of the corporations, both of which forms the major part of it. Economic reasons have played a crucial role in the growth of India’s gig economy. Businesses find it cost-efficient to hire temporary workers, skillful freelancers, or contractors for short-term projects since it cuts down a lot of costs like infrastructure, travel, additional employee benefits, etc. It also does away with an upfront cost involved in hiring, onboarding & training talent for the available positions since freelance workers take up roles based on their skill sets. Thus it is imperative why companies & workers choose to operate in the gig economy.
Apart from this, the monthly salary of a regular employee is higher than what company pays to the hired temporary/freelance worker. Hence, there is high availability of cheap human resources especially in India’s gig economy which companies take advantage of. Though there is also a risk of not getting the best end result by outsourcing yet moving ahead with it seems to be a great option.
From the workers viewpoint, the gig economy offers them a lot more than just money. In the hectic lifestyle of an employee, where they lack much of a flexibility and have next to no ownership of their work. Whereas the gig economy allows the workers full control over everything including not only when, where and how to work but also the working process. Since a permanent employee has to run a lot of things through superiors before moving ahead there is not much room for experiments. But working as a freelancer, you can use your intuition and creative thinking as only the quality end product matters and not the process (in certain cases). This will eventually help you grow in more dimensions.
From the above discussion it can be seen that the aforementioned shows that India’s gig economy holds potential for improving the work environment and productivity of individuals.
The Bad Side
With the growth of the working population and education in India, the gig economy has seen a major growth spurt. Along with this growth comes major challenges. The readily available manpower is restricted with minimal/limited education and riddled further with the fact that all educators are not professionally skilled/employable. Currently, our country thrives on cheap labor which is prevalent in all sectors.
Similar complications are faced by the workers, which involves minimum wages, unbalanced work-life, insecure work, no pension or paid leaves. Other complications which the gig economy brings are more related to the mental health of workers. An unsteady workload leads to immense performance pressure. At times there are too many projects to handle and then for months, there is no work. All such circumstances bring stress and it becomes difficult for individuals to grow professionally as freelance workers.
A platform like Awign provides a sigh of relief to the labor force, skilled and unskilled.
There is an opportunity to make at least the minimum wage for someone with not much education by working as a delivery partner. Similarly, for a skilled software developer to pick an interesting project and generate a second income. It also provides a platform for amateur talents to hone their craft until it meets professional standards and elevates their career. Zeroing on the matter at hand, with India’s current gig economy you are never unemployed. There is a bite-size available for everyone.
Nevertheless, nothing discounts the complications that arise with this imperfect but ever-growing work structure. The need of the hour is to revise our existing labor laws which are hampering the growth of workers who are part of this sector. For businesses and employers to provide an overdue recognition to self-employed, freelancers, or contract workers. The onus lies with the individual/freelancers to make the right choices and demand a fair share for their efforts.
After all, a bird in hand is worth two.
The Future Of Gig Economy
The landscape of the business and corporation world has been changed by the gig economy to the point where the government also recognizes and has implemented new laws to regulate it. A significant move has been taken by the Indian government regarding this sector that has newly emerged. In the union budget 2020-21, the government has declared to help the freelancers/ temporary workers by launching a new social security scheme for them (Code of Social Security 2021).
In her speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said “For the first time globally, social security benefits will extend to gig and platform workers. Minimum wages will apply to all categories of workers, and they will all be covered by the Employees State Insurance Corporation.” This shows that India’s gig economy holds a lot of potential in the future.
It is crystal clear that the gig economy will continue to grow and in the next few decades, it won’t be surprising if full-time employment comes to a halt. While many will see this as an opportunity to grow others might resist this shift of moving from stability to uncertainty. Although it’s a long road ahead and there is no denying that it will be beneficial for both parties involved.
In the sense that the way of working is changing, it is the young generation who are collaborating the most in India’s gig economy. Since they are no longer bound to do 8 hours of desk job every day and have ownership of their work which is something a full-time employer often craves, they seem to be making the most out of it. Organizations will also adapt to the constant changes and will build a more flexible and streamlined procedure which will benefit the workers in the long run.
The success of the gig economy in the future will highly depend on the relevant skills and experience of the freelance workers as well as for the businesses to provide the platform for them to have the right opportunities.
The Impact On Society
What we also had to consider is that the gig economy is not only responsible for reshaping the marketplace but it also has made a deep impact on society. It is all thanks to this that a large section of people in India who don’t have industry-related skills are able to earn their livelihood by working as freelancers, contratos, and self-employed workers.
People are becoming more independent and using various platforms which offer them high-paying gigs. And it is not just underskilled people who are benefiting from the gig economy but also blue-collar workers who are making extra money through freelancing. Such as Awign is providing various work options for the unemployed and underskilled people for their upliftment in the society it has become easier for them to earn money.
It is workers, businesses, and consumers all together which forms the gig economy society. And while the workers seek flexibility, the businesses want to work with new regulations, and the on-demand services by the consumers are increasing which boosts the gig economy. In all, there has been an upliftment of the people.
So, in the discussion over whether the gig economy is good or bad people still have different opinions. Maybe in the coming years, this picture will be much clearer. As of now, the gig economy has a bright side that offers a lot of opportunities but there are certain loopholes into it too.
Many people thrive in this gig economy while others are struggling. It all boils down to your skills, experience, and hard work whether you will make it big or not. Whether you become part of the gig economy or not, you cannot turn a blind eye to this trend which is growing every single day.
Do let us know what your thoughts are on this.