Gig Economy advantages and disadvantages
You may have heard about the “Gig Economy” – it refers to how people work in the modern world. We don’t have the luxury of working for 40 years for the same company as our parents’ and grandparents’ generations did.
Now, at least one-third of the workers across the globe work on the basis of casual contracts or short-term agreements between the worker and the employers. People have always worked on the basis of short-term contracts, but what makes the “gig economy” of today different is that it is entirely digitally driven and is propelled by online platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, TaskRabbit, Uber, Lyft, AirTasker and AirBnb.
Employers on platforms such as TaskRabbit and AirTasker post jobs to be performed and those who are willing to do these jobs compete with others to bid for them. Once they perform the job, they get paid, with the freelance platform acting as a middleman between the employer and the worker.
This is short-term work, the employer is under no obligation to continue hiring the worker – who we call a self-employed individual or a freelancer – and the freelancer is under no obligation to work for the employer. This is based on the concept of mutually beneficial transaction of labor.
In developed countries such as Australia, there is a lot of debate over the Gig economy. A number of people have been able to gain full-time employment through it, but there are questions being asked.
University of Technology Sydney researcher, Dr. Sarah Kaine, who has studied the gig economy closely says the gig economy is certainly a good thing as it provides employment to millions of people, “but [it comes] at a cost to society. You have employees who are entitled to the types of conditions that we have enjoyed for some decades, and then youll have those others.”
The biggest concern is about the working conditions afforded to workers in the gig economy. Talking about Uber and AirBnb, which are arguably the most famous companies operating in the gig economy, Dr. Kaine says, “Uber doesn own cars, so the biggest transport operator doesn own a single vehicle. If you think of Airbnb as well, they don own hotels.”
“So the risk is shifted from those companies that are essentially linking users and workers to the worker themselves. The risk shifting, I think is one of the most serious causes for concern,” Dr. Kaine explains.
There is for sure a lot of skepticism about the gig economy and there are many who wonder if the people who are participating in this are now throwing away their talent.
But the fact is thing are changing around the world. You don’t need to actually work at a big company to earn a decent paycheck. In fact, you don’ need to go to the office at all. Telecommuting – where people work from their home – is the new big thing.
The gig economy is only a part of the major changes in the workplace brought forth by technological developments such as the spread of the internet, cloud computing and the widespread use of mobile phones. This is a brave new world. As a wise man once said, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself!”
Author: Raghav Hegde – India