Rise of the Gig Worker

What is a Gig Worker?

Burkard and Craven (2019) confirms that the Gig Worker is where employees consist of individuals who can be considered as freelancers in a sense where they do not have a formal contract confirming their specific working hours and they work when they are required to work as and when needed. Parigi and Ma (2016) found that the Gig Worker is someone who does not belong to a Union or have a stable monthly income and they can perform their function from anywhere whether it be in the office or working remotely. Burkard and Craven (2019) also found that it would save the company time and money for onboarding and training new employees all the time whereas you can find someone who can hit the ground running and start completing tasks and projects in no time.

In this time of COVID-19, the author believes that most if not all employed individuals can be considered as some form of Gig Worker. The reason for this is that we are all performing our duties away from the office and working remotely as and where we can. The author can confirm this as he is currently instructed to work remotely from home during the period. Douglas et al (2020) found that the Gig Workers in some countries are under strain as they do not have paid sick-leave, formal contracts and hours of operation which allows them to be covered under the companies regulations which allows for employees to receive up to 100% of their income, and that these individuals can lose their income at any time which can have an impact on their way of life. This is the reality that we have found ourselves in and this is the question individuals will need to ask themselves, if they want to be full time employees or continue to work remotely as and when needed?

So why the Rise of Gig Workers?

The author believes that the Gig Worker has become the more cost effective, less risk, and high turnover for any company and to improve customer experience. Burkard and Craven (2019) confirms this by making use of Uber as an example, where they link the customer with the necessary service, they require by hiring contract workers to execute this service. Speaking from experience, the author can confirm through many discussions during business meetings, many of his colleagues have confirmed that they are spending more time in front of their laptops than they used to at the actual office. We have termed this the “always on” approach. You never have to take the time to walk to a boardroom for another meeting as you now have Microsoft Teams. You do not have to take thirty minutes going to get your lunch from the canteen or the shop across the road as your kitchen is at most ten steps away from your desk at home. Stewart and Stanford (2017) found that Gig Workers have no set hours which they are required to work and that all work is basically on demand as and when it is needed.

Are Gig Workers more valuable than full time employee company staff?

The author believes that because Gig Workers are basically hard workers due to their income depending on their productivity, as many companies have gone the route of putting this strain on their full time employed staff members. Think of your Uber driver having to be on call all the time to pick up and drop off a client or the food they have ordered. Dubal (2017) found that companies with full time employed staff members are moving toward an exploitive nature to promote remote working as this now forces these employees to perform their duties as if they were Gig Workers. Dubal (2017) further confirms that by moving in this direction companies now move the responsibility of tasks and projects completely to the employee just as in the case with an Uber driver, where it is their responsibility to ensure that that online order or taxi ride is fulfilled. Stanford (2017) found that historically the Gig Worker is more valuable than full time employed staff members – with reason being that companies over the decades have found that their most productive workers are Gig Workers as they have no ties to any company benefits such as pension funds, minimum wage strikes through Unions and all the other legal obligations and entitlements full time workers have.

In the end the author believes their will always be a Gig Economy/Worker as it is clear and evident that companies and businesses cannot exist or progress without them. The Gig Worker however has more risk when it comes to a stable income, however could be more inclined to be the first to get hired when the organisations require someone to complete the necessary tasks or projects. Companies cannot or may not find one individual which will possess all the qualities and attributes to fit the role 100%, so why not contract ten individuals to get the job done of which each has a qualification which meets the needs on the role to be fulfilled?