The 9-5 grind, Monday morning blues, appraisal jitters and nosey colleagues are gradually turning into things of past in India. Today the country’s workforce is all for the Gig economy.
‘Gigs’ are nothing but tasks done for different clients over a stipulated period. There is no obligation to be part of the same company and do the mundane work. You can choose the kind of work you want to do, the people you want to work for, and of course, your working schedule. With the proliferation of online businesses, e-commerce, and start-ups, the Gig-economy or freelancing is growing at a rapid scale in India. Full-time employees are heavy on the pocket for entrepreneurs, hence on-demand professionals or contractual workers are the preferred options.
A steady flow of work, flexibility, learning opportunities, and better work-life balance are the main factors why many are ditching corporate jobs and opting to do Gigs. A study by Paypal has revealed that one in four freelancers belong to India and 41% of Indian freelancers have seen growth in the past one year. Another industry report says that Gig economy in India has the potential to grow up to $20-30 billion by 2025.
Though freelance working is not a new concept, it is seeing tremendous evolution in terms of client mix, hiring pattern, project delivery and payment terms. We highlight few of the trends, both new and upcoming, that the Gig economy in India is witnessing.
(1) Retired population signing up for Gigs:
Freelancing is not just for millennials or Gen-X people anymore. For those who want to actively work even in their golden years and be financially independent, Gig economy is a boon. Retired population finds it hard to get re-employed due to various preconceived notions among employers or health factors. But with so much contractual work available today, retired professionals are re-skilling themselves and becoming job ready for new-age profiles. They can work on flexible schedules, earn well and keep up their health at the same time.
(2) Blockchain-based payment system
One of the biggest problem faced by the independent workforce in India is the payment issue. There is hardly any transparency in the amount and mode of payment received. Many centralized online marketplaces like Fivver, Upwork and Freelancer.com charge fees from the freelancers to the tune of 5% to 10%. In other cases, the freelancer never gets paid. Blockchain has come to the rescue in these cases. It is fast emerging as a mode of secure financial transactions wherein the fees are paid through cryptocurrencies. There is transparency in the payment structure and there is low remittance fee involved.
(3) The emergence of Blockchain-based marketplaces
As mentioned above, freelancers connect with clients on marketplaces. India has its home-grown marketplaces also like Contentmart.com, Witty Pen or Engineerbabu.com. We will see more of these marketplaces in times to come, but what will set them apart from the current ones is strong technology-backing. Again, Blockchain will be widely used to streamline the process. Listing of new gig workers, allowing them to put their portfolio and current projects, as well as reviews from clients and testimonials on block permanently. Not only this, Blockchain can also protect the intellectual property rights of the deliverable by codifying it and making it tamper-proof.
(4) Technology takes over hiring
Technology has made it possible for staffing agencies and companies to collect deep data on gig workers and evaluate it. Today, Artificial Intelligence helps recruiters to study the working pattern and capabilities of freelancers and match it with specific project need. With extensive data and analytics, companies will be able to choose the right kind of the worker for their projects. Many online marketplaces have also come up with apps to match employers with the right contractors. Once the right resource is chosen, Data Science will dig deeper into their work location, the method followed by them, the frequency at which they take up work and their preferred mode of receiving fees. The company/recruiter preserves this data when they want to reconsider the same resource for other projects in the future.
(5) Established companies to hire more contractual employees
A survey by Flexing IT, an online marketplace for consultants, shows that in 2016, 50% of the demand came from start-ups, while 20% of the demand came from larger corporations. We expect, bigger players to also gradually warm up to the idea of gig workers for niche projects. Due to protectionism laws in the West, many IT companies in India are seeing thinner margins, hence they want to curb operational expenses. Therefore, these companies have started flexi-hiring to keep personnel costs low. A leading recruitment company expects flexi-hiring in IT industry to grow 53% by 2018. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical giant, Dr Reddy’s has been actively employing interns and project-based consultants.
The tech-powered Gig Economy will attract more workers
The above upcoming trends make it clear that technology is going to impact the Gig economy is a largely positive way. In the age of economic uncertainty and layoffs, on-demand consultants are here to flourish. It is also encouraging to see all segments of corporate India being open to the idea of project-based workers. As these trends catch momentum, we are sure to see more people joining the Gig economy in India.