The presence of freelancers and the ‘gig economy’ is not new and has been around for decades. However, the ‘gig economy’ bloomed in recent years and ChannelNewsAsia reported that the number of freelancers increased from 200,000 in 2016 to 211,000 in 2019 – an increase of 5.5% within three years. This could be largely propelled by the prevalence of private-hire drivers and food deliverymen. At the turn of the new decade in 2020, the Covid-19 virus struck and changed the employment landscape, including the gig economy.
The gig economy is set to evolve dramatically in the next few years and may provide great opportunities for those who ride the wave.
With the paradigm shift and rapid introduction of flexible work arrangement during circuit breaker, hirers and employers took the opportunity to study the pros and cons of such work arrangement and sought to redefine jobs and employment.
One major change in mindset among employers is the measurement of work and work productivity. With flexible work arrangement and working from home, employers found it difficult to monitor work and measure productivity against duration and hours. Thereafter, employers began to find alternative ways to measure work done and gradually gravitated towards outcome-based measurements. In simple terms, it means that it no longer matters where and when the work is done. More importantly, it is about how the work gets done. The industries and market are only at the infancy stage of coming up with tools and ways to measure outcome and productivity. As these tools and measurement becomes more mature and robust, it will be increasingly easier to engage freelancers.
In the ‘gig economy’, skills become a commodity for trade and it is becoming easier to trade. Online platforms are becoming accessible on mobile phones and engagement with a freelancer becomes a few clicks away. As more freelancers or gig workers participate, the marketplace expands and gets larger. Beyond delivery and car drivers, specialized skills such as nursing care or design work may become more readily available in the marketplace for employers to engage them. This increased accessibility can also push employers to consider what is available out there and engage them easily. We have seen the presence of ‘gig economy’ in the past and the boom in recent years within some industries. However, with the paradigm shift in employer’s mindset and technology, the ‘gig economy’ will certainly evolve into an exciting next phase in the near future.