Article (November-2021)


Gig economy presents todays workforce with a win-win proposition

Dr. Anil Kumar Misra

Designation : -   Chief Human Resources Officer

Organization : -


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What reasons do you see behind the phenomenal increase of gig economy in India? Is it a temporary boom or will last long? Is it going to replace traditionally hired workforce?

AK The global pandemic has transformed the entire market game, and has massively altered the conventional demands to business operations. The pandemic-induced remote working culture has only been a boon if seen from a pair of far-sighted lenses, defocusing conventional age-old scepticism about freelancing, and remote working. Hence, the Hybrid work model is the new norm.

Business goals have evolved with the evolving business, the real time question is - do I as an employee or employer have what it takes to survive this ever-changing dynamics, if yes, how do I define a proposition that is win-win for all? The answer is Gig economy.

As per a report by ASSOCHAM, India's gig sector is expected to increase to US$455 billion at a CAGR of 17% by 2024 and has the potential to expand at least 2x the pre-pandemic estimates. In another estimate, India is likely to have 350 million gig jobs by 2025, hence it is definitely not a temporary bloom.

With the emphasis placed on autonomy and flexibility in workplace, where unconventional is the new normal, the future is the hybrid mix of full time employees + gig workers + interns, all co-existing to the utmost productive level.

So, no, it is not going to replace the existing traditional work model, but is simply just one more kind of employment that will get added.

What motivates the workers in embracing gig economy? Is it just for the attraction of flexibility or  as a second choice because of compulsion arising out of worsening  unemployment situation?

AK Today's workforce, that has more than one generation working side-by-side than ever before, and it's evident that there are different expectations and aspirations on the path towards success. And, the fundamental arrangement of gig-economy is such that it benefits all the parties involved, both the corporate as well as the personal brand. So the ruling reasons behind the phenomenal increase of gig economy in India are mainly 2 -

1. Gen z and unconventional go hand-in-hand - With the new players dominating the market trends, factors such as flexibility, better work-life balance, growth opportunities, and the option to skip/delay a college degree are encouraging millennials to pursue freelancing opportunities as opposed to traditional work culture. The start-up ecosystem in India has also been gaining momentum lately.

2. Organisations prefer flexi-hiring - These new trends and evolving demands, have crystalised the benefits of pandemic-induced unconventional work arrangements. Organisations have realised the benefits of hiring employees on contractual basis, which is cost-effective since it reduces operational expenses, a trend remarkably impacting the gig culture in India.

What is the long-term potential of the gig economy could comprise and contribute to turn around of businesses and make India Inc. globally competitive?

AK The nature of gig economy is such that it gives ample of flexible employment opportunities and autonomy to workers across industries no matter the level.

With the current evolving times, where we're adapting and aren't as rigid wrt traditional hiring methods and 9-5 working hours, as we were before, and are embracing change for good, and since the contracts for gig workers are typically shorter and more specific to a task or job with the flexibility it allows in employer-employee relationships, is a boon.

India has a pool of ~15 million freelance workers staffed in projects across IT, HR and designing. And India's workforce is growing by ~4 million people annually. Young millennials, and gen Z dominating the field are showing an increasing preference for gig contracts. This trend is likely  to substantially impact gig economy in the near future.

Another major factor is that India has become one of the largest markets for flexi staffing in the world due to the wider adoption of e-commerce and online retailing, according to the Economic Survey 2020-21 tabled in Parliament recently. The increasing role of the gig economy is evident through the significant growth of online retail businesses during the Covid-19 induced lockdown. Digital technology enables two-sided markets which saw the emergence of e-commerce and online retailing platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Ola, Uber, Zomato, Swiggy etc. India has emerged as one of the largest countries for flexi staffing in the world" as per the recent surveys.

The digital gig economy generated a gross volume of approximately $204 bn from worldwide customers in 2018. Transportation-based services contributed to over 50% of this value. The size of the gig economy is projected to grow by a 17% CAGR and generate a gross volume of ~$455 bn by 2023. India has emerged as the 5th largest country for flexi-staffing after US, China, Brazil and Japan.

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