The emergence of startups like Airbnb and Uber have popularized the Gig Economy if not created it. This used to be the area of musicians and just other few artists. Now everyone can participate in this economy. The US Presidential Candidate (D) Hillary Clinton had this to say about it “This on-demand, or so-called gig, economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation.”
It takes us back to what the economist Adam Smith described in his book – An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations – as the genuine market economy of individuals engaging in commerce with one another.
The Gig Economy involves an online intermediary that provides a platform by which independent workers or sellers can sell a discrete service or good to customers. In this economy you get two environments to participate that include the Labor platforms and Capital platforms.
Labor platforms: such as Uber or TaskRabbit, connect customers with freelance or contingent workers who perform discrete projects or assignments.
Capital platforms: such as eBay or Airbnb, connect customers with individuals who rent assets or sell goods peer-to-peer.
In the Gig Economy a capable driver can be a provider of commercial transportation through Uber. According to a study conducted by Uber with their drivers the major reason for working with Uber is because it allows them more autonomy. Nearly 9 out of 10 Uber drivers report that “being their own boss” and being able to set their own schedule was a primary reason they opted to drive with the company. Eighty-five percent of respondents also said a major reason they work with Uber is to have a greater work-life balance.
The Gig Economy allows homeowners to turn their homes into ad-hoc guesthouses through websites such as AirBnB. This has allowed ordinary people to take the share of the hotel and hospitality industry.
For general tasks, in South Africa there’s M4JAM – a microjobbing website – which allows you to earn bucks for completing tasks such as surveys, promotions and stuff like that. The Gig Economy is slowly changing the meaning of work. In future, work will be different to what it is today. The question is whether the worker is ready for the new future of work.
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