Roadblocks on the path of becoming a gig worker
Today the world is more connected than it has ever been, and this connectivity is causing mind shifts in how people perceive jobs around them. While some jobs require being physically present, most of them can do with just a laptop and good internet irrespective of the location. This kind of no workplace dependency has given rise to the tribe of gig workers, and as per statistics, if the gig economy continues growing at its current rate, more than 50% of the US workforce will participate in it by 2027.
Steven Soares, Senior Vice President of Technology at Professional Staffing Service, KForce said, "For those working in the gig economy, this lifestyle provides more flexibility in that those working a 'gig' can work where they want, how they want and when they want. This appeals to many, including our large millennial workforce."
While this seems like a fun and easy option, there are quite a few roadblocks faced by gig workers while choosing this lifestyle:
Each new gig has to be found
Company employees have a set path of promotions, bonuses, appraisals, etc. Gig workers do not enjoy that luxury. In a space that is so competitive, finding a new gig gets difficult, leading to financial instability. A gig worker needs to invest ample amount of time in looking for jobs every day as one isn't aware when one project might be dropped. There are only so many places, one can look for a gig, mostly social media, but like that one gig worker, all the other gig workers are using the same platform.
Fragmentation of the gig industry
In any given industry, whether it is writing, designing, marketing, sales, etc., there is no consistency in payment or rules. This sometimes leads to the exploitation of gig workers because there is no fixed rate card. Every employer uses his judgment and company policies to make a deal with the gig worker, which may or may not be fair. Some companies like Upwork have tried to bring uniformity in this industry, but it hasn't established the practice to the expected standards yet.
Gig workers don't fall sick
Yes, they do, but that's not accounted for. Since gig workers do not work a 9-5 job, they are not liable for holidays on sick days. This cannot be blamed on employers solely because nobody has found a system to track such situations. Currently, this is purely based on the relationship a freelancer shares with the employer. Carisa Miklusak, CEO of Tilr says "When a gig worker or freelancer works any non-W2 job, the hours count, just as they do in a full-time role. Portable benefits should include health insurance, paid time off, future saving programs, and other assistance commonly found with W2 employment."
Lack of blue-collar gig considerations
Wherever we think of the gig economy, we always picture a millennial sitting with his laptop with huge headphones around his neck sipping Starbucks coffee. But gig-economy is not just limited to white-collar jobs. Airbnb, Uber, BlaBlaCar, Deliveroo, Zomato etc. are services that are provided by gig workers as well and should be taken into consideration for various policies. They face similar roadblocks like white-collar gig workers. There is a lack of professional growth opportunities in such scenarios that need to be addressed.
As the gig economy is growing, it is crucial to bring about a system that addresses concerns like inconsistent pay, sick leaves, tax benefits, etc. So far, the gig economy was just focused on the benefits received by gig workers, but now there is a shift in perspective. Companies are tremendously benefitting from the gig economy as they get productive work done with minimum liabilities. Removing these roadblocks will help the gig economy flourish and bring more development to the economy.