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Gig economy in India is a relatively late starter; pandemic accelerates new ways of work

Digitization of the workplace has played a major part in increasing interest in self-employment and work that is more flexible

Harsh Jain | Updated on: Wednesday, May 04, 2022, 05:56 PM IST

Technology has played a big role in connecting employers with freelancers and gigsters through freelancing platforms and online job boards.
 / Representative image |
Technology has played a big role in connecting employers with freelancers and gigsters through freelancing platforms and online job boards. / Representative image |
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The Indian work culture is going through a metamorphic change. The new generation doesn’t want to be stuck with a time-bound job. These individuals are finding sustainable employment opportunities in the country’s rapidly growing gig economy.

Technology has played a big role in connecting employers with freelancers and gigsters through freelancing platforms and online job boards. Talking about the gig economy in India, it has been a relatively late starter and currently has three million-plus gig workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses around the globe and has also paved the way to accelerate business thinking towards adopting new ways including freelancing and the gig economy.

Factors that drive gig economy

Digitization of the workplace has played a major part in increasing interest in self-employment and work that is more flexible. Globally the ongoing job scenario is more inclined towards freelancers or gigsters, and the pandemic made it a more suitable option. The COVID-19 pandemic has made us realize that working from anywhere, anytime, and for anyone is possible. India’s gig sector is likely to grow to $455 billion at a CAGR of 17 percent by 2024. It has the potential to grow at least 2 times the pre-pandemic estimates, according to the ASSOCHAM report.

Increased demand for freelancers and emerging freelancing platforms

Presently the demand for freelancers is very high and several supportive and purpose-driven platforms have emerged to aid this. Freelancers, companies and these platforms are creating a mutually-beneficial ecosystem where everyone’s needs are met. Freelance platforms not only help freelancers discover gigs and opportunities, but also help to nurture them through online courses, consultations, and specializations.

These online platforms are rising to the occasion and bridging the demand-supply gap between freelancers and companies. Several organizations looking for skilled professionals are leveraging freelance platforms to find and attract the right talent. As a result, online freelance platforms are acting as catalysts to connect freelancers with companies and vice-versa.

Formal and informal gig workers

With an increasing number of people opting for the fluidity of the gig economy both formal and informal gig workers equally contribute to the economy. In simple terms in India, we define a gig worker as a person who performs work outside of a traditional employer and employee relationship. Formal gig workers are those who are under contracts, informal gig workers are the small operating businesses and service providers.

At present, there is a huge demand for both types of workers. International MNCs and big tech companies are hiring content creators and software developers etc. Similarly, startups are also providing jobs to informal gig workers in roles like food delivery, packaging, and other small projects. Freelancing has given the opportunity to people who have a full-time job to earn some extra money on the side, and this is in turn increasing the income of gig workers.

Benefits of gig economy for businesses

The advantages of gig working for freelancers is plenty, including the flexibility to work from home and set their own working hours. Gig business can be incredibly advantageous to business owners as well.

Freelancers constantly expand their skill sets to keep up with the evolution of the workforce. They tend to be more innovative and receptive to new technology as they accumulate lots of experience from using their specialized skill sets to work with a variety of different businesses. They help the business in bridging the skill gap.

Freelancers are equipped with home offices thereby reducing the need for office space and utilities. Independent contractors, who are specialists in their field, also require a low level of supervision and training, thereby cutting down the coaching and development costs.

Last but not the least, hiring a full-time or even a part-time employee means that you will have to offer them a set number of hours. Alternatively, hiring a freelancer offers you the option of flexible manpower. Whether it’s a small-scale project or a much larger one, you get the exact manpower that you need according to your requirements.

Talent pool from small cities

Freelancing, gig economy, and remote working have given small-town talent a golden opportunity to showcase their skills. Relocating is not a hindrance anymore for small-town talent. Before the pandemic, the concept of remote working and freelancing was very rare for the Indian working class. Employers believe the new way of working will continue for a long time, and this has in a way shifted the way employers look at getting talent.

To sum it up, independent workers and traditional job holders alike will have to become more proactive about managing their careers as digital technologies continue to reshape the world of work. Understanding the freelance economy and getting on board with the gig business revolution is a great alternative to ensure sustained growth, greater output, and increased revenue. As India moves towards its stated goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025, the gig economy will be a major building block in inclusively achieving the above goalpost, bridging the income and unemployment gap.

(Harsh Jain is Co-Founder & CTO at UniGigs--online freelance marketplace)

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Published on: Tuesday, May 03, 2022, 05:33 PM IST