Gig economy: Paramount for both individuals and organisations

The world of business is constantly changing, and with it comes the requirement of a dynamic workforce. Today, companies must be sufficiently agile and allocate resources strategically and efficiently in a cost-effective manner. This requires new and innovative solutions, which is why I believe the gig economy has lots to offer and is here to stay.

According to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, both millennials and Gen-Z cohorts admit that freelance work appeals to them more than full-time jobs. 84% of millennials and 81% of Gen-Z’ers surveyed said they would consider joining the gig economy. However, for India, this figure is higher—as 94% millennials and Gen-Z says they would consider joining the gig economy. To put this into perspective, the gig economy appeals to four in five millennials and Gen-Z’ers.

Since technology gave birth to the gig economy in the first place, it is rightful to say that it would only increase the opportunities in the economy for millennials or gig workers. 4.38 billion Indians out of 7.67 billion have access to the internet. Additionally, the increased use of collaboration tools like mobile and cloud-based technology is proof that the trend of the gig economy is only going to increase.

The respondents from the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 put forth several reasons for workers opting to join the gig economy—a chance to earn more money (58%), flexible work hours (41%), or a better work-life balance (37%).

According to the survey, of the millennials it surveyed, 49% said that if they had a choice, they would quit their job in two years. This figure is higher than the 38% as reported in Deloitte’s 2017 report.

Over the last decade, the gig economy has transformed the business setup. A 2019 report by the BCG Henderson group, states that 40% of companies expect gig workers to become an increasing part of their workforce in the coming years. Easy access to remote work has redefined the workplace scenario drastically. In today’s day and age, people prefer working from home or offsite, with an increasing number of people opting to work as consultants or contractors.

Today, many people are freelancing or have more than one source of income or working a part-time gig, which showcases the growth and demand for this sector. While the gig economy still needs structuring, it is definitely booming.

Gig economy – Then vs. now

In the context of workforce then vs. now, the fundamental difference is that formerly it was not recognised as opposed to today where it is a sector in itself. The predominant contributors of it are the millennials, with Gen-Z following up on this trend because of the flexibility, career mobility, hyper-connectivity and job satisfaction offered by it.

The increase in the population is also another measurable factor as mentioned above. A study by Steelcase Research shows the immediate availability of the talent pool owing to the number of millennials in India projected to become close to 75% of the workforce by 2025. This correlates with the workforce’s flexibility trend.

The goal now is soaring as the young working professional values independence over many other considerations. Companies too have changed their outlook; instead of retaining talent, they are trying to do more with less. Earlier being a gig worker had a lot of uncertainty attached to it; now the level of transparency in all transactions and the awareness and information available has made this sector conspicuous.

Organisations gain multiple benefits

Freelancers constantly expand their skillsets 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 specialised skill sets to work with a variety of different businesses. This benefits business seeking to hire candidates with niche skills. The 2018 ‘Future Workforce Report: Hiring Manager Insights on Flexible and Remote Work Trends’ highlighted how skills are becoming more specialised and how freelancers could fill this gap. For instance, gig workers are a great option for businesses seeking specialised skillsets in domains such as AI, robotics, data science, and Blockchain.

A report titled ‘The Future of Work is Anywhere – Gig Workforce’ by Noble House revealed that 45% of the HR heads hired gig workers to supplement the skills of the existing workforce and 39% of them chose gig workers to reduce the cost to the firm. Hiring freelancers can help the business cut down its overall spending in various ways. We are all aware that office spaces are priced at a premium. Freelancers are equipped with home offices—thanks to collaboration tools—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. Opting for a gig business strategy further helps to eliminate costs on benefits such as healthcare, retirement, transport and paid sick leave.

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. For instance, you could hire a freelancer to work on your social media pages over the weekend even when your business is closed. Since remote workers are open to flexible work hours, it works out well for both your business and them.

Understanding the freelance economy and getting on board with the gig business revolution is a great alternative to ensure goals of sustained growth, greater output and increased revenue for the business are achieved. With an increased number of participants converging to this lifestyle, the gig economy has significantly changed the contemporary business landscape. Even though it is notoriously hard to measure, it is becoming increasingly accessible worldwide and is creating new opportunities for employers to attract and cooperate with top talent on crucial projects that call for highly specialised skillsets.

Nobby Nazareth is the co-founder of Moonlyte, a platform where companies and freelancers team up to harness the potential of the gig economy for greater job satisfaction and better business outcomes. He was the Chief Recruitment Officer for Microland group based in Bangalore. With an equally balanced experience in professional services and entrepreneurship, Nobby is focused on organising disruptions in the HR space, particularly by leveraging technology and the intelligence around it. He believes that India has many skills that have the potential of being market leaders globally and hopes to offer Moonlyte as a tool to leverage this global opportunity to the diaspora in India.