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Thriving in the Gig Economy

Many millennials today choose their own work hours and assignments to work independently or freelance. They are prepared to look beyond the usual 9 to 5 jobs. Welcome to the Gig Economy, which is series of short-term assignments or tasks rather than a single job with regular, set hours. A fast-growing subset of gigs has captured the public spotlight in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. This new economy of freelancers or self-employed people are an example of how technology is reshaping the way we communicate, connect and work. Several companies such as Uber, Lyft, AirBnB and others have defined the direction of today’s global economy. 
 
The gigs can either be skill-based assignments or need-based tasks. It offers people autonomy, allows flexibility and eliminates employer-employee model of work. There is immense exposure in such a working model as one directly gets to deal with clients and think creatively or have an entrepreneurial dream. The Gig Economy is loosening the grip of larger corporations in labour markets. Today, even major corporations are experimenting with lesser-known start-ups for services. 
 
With the advent of Gig Economy, people have begun creating purposeful careers that fit in with their lives, not the other way around. Being your own boss is central to the idea of the gig economy. For small or lean business, tapping into the gig economy today seems to be an absolute necessity. “We are a start-up that requires help with Content and social media management. Hiring full-time talent for it would burn a lot of our money. So, freelancer model works best for us whenever we have a requirement,” says Padmini A, head of operations of an EdTech start-up. 
 
A McKinsey study estimates that 20-30 percent of the workforce in developed countries already engages in this type of independent work. This is catching up rapidly in India as our tech-savvy millennial population is making the shift towards freelancing as a full-time career. According to a Randstad Workmonitor survey, close to 83 percent of the Indian workforce hold entrepreneurial ambitions, with 56 percent indicating a desire to leave their full-time jobs. “This impending bump in work required to be fulfilled, will further serve to increase demand for freelancers to service such projects in the future,” the survey reveals. 
 
The promise of the gig economy is not as rosy as it seems. Workers take gigs as they can’t afford to be too picky, despite the supposed liberty of being your own boss in the sharing economy. According to Uber driver Chandrasekhar, he caught up with the frenzy of jumping into it when he realised the company promised handsome returns. “Initially, there were targets and bonuses. So, there were lot of incentives. Gradually, it all faded out as there are too many drivers available. It is a problem of plenty where one has to accept low fares,” he rues, adding that his savings have depleted. 
 
There are downsides to the gig economy as well. There is no safety net which includes no savings or insurance, no retirement plan and no sick leave pay, etc. “Gigs or freelances who work on such tasks also require personal discipline and good planning to make this work,” says Ahaana, who quit her corporate job to be a freelance content writer. 
 
While some say that the Gig Economy is all about how our perceptions of work have changed and how it has increased the risk appetite of youngsters today, other agree that the advantages outweigh the cons as there are already many millennials who are successfully charting out their careers as part of this shared economy. The size of the gig economy will only grow in the near future. 

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