The wave of gig economy has stormed the professional world in the 21st century. More and more people are opting to work on their own, in their pyjamas, 15 million in India to be precise. The benefits look unparalleled, from forever work-from-home lifestyle to autonomy of choosing your own projects and becoming your own boss, everything in the freelance world seems surreal. Freelancing is often seen and portrayed as a fancy work-life balance situation that allows you to enjoy the pleasures of life along with minting good money. You see pictures of young professionals working from pretty cafes or new mothers holding their baby in one hand and smiling at the computer.
Freelancing is packaged with the colourful gift wrapper of happiness with the ribbon of entrepreneurship. Everybody would love to buy such gifts, but once you peel the gift wrap, you see the reality of loneliness and the struggle to find work.
One of the main contributors to the rise of the freelance economy is super-platforms. These platforms work as aggregators for both the client and the freelancer, and are a virtual market place for gigs and list freelance jobs for anyone to pick and earn a decent amount. They have become a hit. Imagine skipping all those gruelling rounds of interviews and just logging on a platform and selecting the job of your choice and starting work right away- sounds like a utopia, isn't it? However, beneath these fast-paced, easy to access freelance platforms lie some secrets that are not known to the spectators of this freelance saga. From hefty fees to very basic projects, there's a lot that lies on the darker side of the gig economy.
Let's look at the issues of having a centralized platform:
Freelance aggregator platforms and their fees: The freelancers usually bear most of the fees absorbed by such platforms. Hence, the freelancer ends up getting a cut from the actual worth of his/her work instead of getting the entire amount. This is not a one-way problem as the client too often ends up paying more to get experienced freelancers.
Direct control over freelancer and the employer: Those of you who have worked on these freelance platforms must be acquainted with one eerie clause that most of these platforms have and, i.e. to have no direct contact with the client or the freelancer beyond the platform. This clause forces both parties to utilize the platform once they have signed up. Any negotiations or deals that take place outside the platform are penalized. This is one extreme example of platforms taking over the client-freelancer relationship. However, there are many more such binding clauses that limit the client and freelancer's scope of interaction and work.
A need for decentralized work structure
The steep growth curve witnessed by the freelance industry is a massive call for a decentralized gig economy. The consequences of third party control are rather apparent and even detrimental to the client-freelancer relationship.
A decentralized economy where the client and freelancer dictate their own rules and work out their own terms and conditions suitable to the requirements is the way out of the centralized dilemma.
Here are a few ways in which the organization and the freelancer can build a decentralized work model :
Organizations need to invest more time
Unlike the usual scenario on super-platforms, the gig economy must not be a one-way road. Organizations or clients also need to spend time and efforts to define roles and projects for freelancers clearly. They too need to network and reach out to talent that is most suitable to their requirements and build a lasting relationship. This will save a lot of time and monetary investments and will also help to understand clearly what can be outsourced.
Freelancers need to stir away from the comfortable waters
Though getting a job from the comfort of your home may seem like the best possible solution, it brings with it many repercussions. To take business matters in their own hands' freelancers must put themselves out there and start networking and pitching. These gig workers need to create their pool of clients and a good portfolio so that they can rely on their own network and negotiate their terms and scope of work on their own.
Decentralization will help in equal power distribution, thereby strengthening the gig economy to flourish even more. This fundamental change will reshape the gig economy to touch new heights.