In today’s world where the job pressure is acutely high, everything is hectic and extremely time bound, the idea of working for flexible hours, being more independent and getting the time and freedom while doing a job seems so surreal, that people are actually trying to pursue this by leaving their corporate jobs to pick up “gig jobs”.
In the simplest terms, a gig job includes work on a contractual basis or as a freelancer where pay is as per the job and not on a regular basis. While this may plant a certain degree of doubt in many people, the chance to choose their own working hours, where they want to work from, which clients they want to pursue and working with multiple clients at once, attracts others despite the instability in pay.
Due to digitization, most of the workforce has become mobile as work can be carried out through digital platforms, by individuals from any corner of the world leading to an exceptional rise in such short-term jobs.
Gig jobs provide people the platform to try out new jobs to sharpen their knowledge, skills and widen their experience with different companies, instead of sicking to 9 to 5 jobs that are restricted to a single firm.
The role of COVID-19
Participation in the gig economy rose rapidly during the hit of COVID-19 pandemic when both blue- collar jobs and white-collar jobs faced a major setback and many people got laid off from their regular salary paying jobs. This is when people took the help of various gig jobs for their primary earning while many people even took up these jobs as their secondary source of income because of pay cuts in their daily occupation.
The pandemic also provided a situation when the need of online services increased leading to a number of gig workers to take up jobs in order to accomplish various services like home delivery of daily necessities to the consumers.
Moreover, companies like Zomato, Airbnb, Ola, Swiggy and others begun hiring gig workers rather than full time employees as it removes their overhead costs and the fixed salary amounts.
This cost-cutting method employed by small start-ups and large MNCs alike, through flexible hiring options that reduce their expenses in the post pandemic period provided a vast platform of opportunities in this upcoming sector.
A shift in preferences
As the youth readily take up jobs in the corporate sector, many still prefer to keep a passive source of income in addition to the steady salaries earned from their primary jobs.
In fact, this culture is becoming so increasingly dominant that even high school students have started performing part-time jobs like being a cashier or a babysitter to get their income started from an early stage.
College students are also participating enthusiastically in this respect as gig jobs take the fear of missing out on academic commitments out of the equation owing to flexible timings while ensuring practical exposure.
While most entry-level jobs demand 2-4 years of experience, the gig economy, unlike traditional platforms, welcomes the inexperienced and young people with open arms, keeping in mind the main objective of focusing on their skills.
Not just this, this job sector is also becoming lucrative to several senior and experienced workers, especially those looking for combatting the economic downturn by accumulating emergency savings while opting for a ‘soft retirement’.
This means that a person does not have to work for 40 hours a week but does not completely stop working. This may also serve as an interesting choice for several women in India, who face problems to take time out for jobs due to household responsibilities.
Apart from such gains, a factor of fear still looms in the backdrop. Being a relatively new concept, still in the early stages of its growth, Gig economy largely thrives unregulated, leaving many of the workers with little job security and benefits. Many even argue that this culture in India has become an extension of India’s informal labour sector that remains unorganized for most of its part and that the concept of gig economy has been applied accurately only in developed economies where, there exist strong social support systems and all work is treated equally.
Though the government has tried to uplift such barriers by enacting laws like the ‘Code on Social Security, 2020’ which will serve as an aid to gig workers by providing workers with life and disability cover, accidental insurance, health and maternity benefits, old age protection and other aids, the integration of the “gig sector” in the national economy still remains an outcome whose results are yet to be fully seen.
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