Mili Kataria

Head Branding & Marketing – Hesa | Founder @ Pandora’s Box | Mentor – I help Startups understand and explore their Core & translate it into their Growth Story | Passion that drives me – #Impact1founderAday

Did you know that India has been a regular contributor to the gig economy since long?

You must be wondering what, how and when?

Well, for that I will first explain – what is the meaning of the gig (economy) in a layman’s term.

Gig (Economy) is nothing but hiring the expertise of an individual for a certain amount of time, based on a pre-defined scope and payment terms.

Apart from the commonly known white-collar gig workers (like designers, content-writers, translators, software developers, bloggers, guest lecturers etc.), the blue-collar gig workers (like plumbers, carpenters, electricians, appliance repair guy, etc.), are the true pioneers in establishing the gig economy way before the term ‘Gig’ was even coined for freelance, contract work during the early millennium.

In India, due to the very nature of the work requiring contract labourers like construction workers, repair mechanics, part-time drivers etc. gig-economy became synonymous to blue-collared gig workers. Come 2010’s, post the financial meltdown, when white-collared employees were forced to look for alternate career options discovered the advantages of joining the gig economy, thereby making it a cool hangout for the working class.

There have been many pivots to the gig economy, it started from freelancing of one expert labour-intensive job like that of a carpenter, electrician or designing of a website, to becoming a systematic engagement platform of these experts on apps like Urban Company, House Joy, Topcoder, etc.

The Pros of a gig economy

Whatever said and done, the pros of the gig economy far outweigh its cons. There are some very tangible positives that the gig work brings to the table for the worker and the corporate/startup:

  • Gig Worker

o  You can work at your own time

o  You select your work

o  You work at your own pace keeping the delivery date in your mind

o  Your compensation is generally higher compared to an employee

o  You work from your own home’s comfort, be it in the city or a village (avoiding high rents)

o  Commuting time gets saved

  • Corporates/Startups

o  Access to niche skills which can be hired project-wise

o  Cheaper for companies to contract & pay for the duration they want the work to be delivered

o  They can cut the cost of employee benefits, transportation, real estate space in the office, other perks of being in office

The Cons of a gig economy

  • Gig worker

o  Regular work is not a guarantee and hence your income is also not

o  You don’t get employee benefits

o  You need to establish yourself as an authority

o  Larger companies don’t trust your work, they need testimonials

o  Disruption in the work-life balance due to no boundaries on personal time

  • Corporates/Startups

o  The gig workers don’t understand the company’s culture

o  Companies generally can’t outsource managerial or senior roles as the gig worker don’t understand company dynamics or hierarchies

o  Companies don’t get well-qualified freelancers and the higher they go in seniority, the more expensive the gig gets

o  Change Management related activities need to remain in-house

o  Confidentiality of data becomes a challenge

What kinds of jobs go into the gig?

  • The kind of jobs that have non-repeatable roles
  • Those which require a certain level of niche skills, which will not be found in the existing set of employees
  • To gain a fresh perspective
  • To leverage best practices in the market

Difference between consulting & gig

  • Consulting can be a longer project, say for a year or so; Gig generally is short term and assignments based
  • Consulting is more strategy-based work; Gig is more tactical in nature
  • Consulting is a complete project in itself; Gig is mostly a part of a bigger project

Trust is a factor of high importance in remote work and gig work which requires your supervisor or reporting manager to have faith in you to turn in a high-quality deliverable without delays. In India traditionally it has been more of ‘seeing is believing’ work-culture, which translates into the supervisor being able to see his subordinate come to the office, work from their cubicles, attend a face to face meetings and deliver their projects. Due to COVID-19, work-from-home has become a necessity than a privilege, hence forcing the managers to trust their subordinates. This will eventually lead to companies and their managers to utilize gig workers more freely and with trust and thus contribute in their own way to the renewed society that we are transitioning towards.

The gig economy is here to stay, even larger organizations like Infosys, Wipro, TCS, are saying that they will leverage the gig workers in a big way.

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