Gurpreet Singh is the Co-Founder & Chief Revenue Officer of Awign – India’s largest tech-led enterprise-focused gig work & workforce platform; which he founded in 2016, along with Annanya Sarthak and Praveen Kumar Sah, with the mission to ‘gigify’ core enterprise work predominantly driven via a permanent workforce. Gurpreet is responsible for overall growth of Awign including generating demand from enterprise customers, farming clients, revenue delivery, and profitability. He also looks at launching new divisions and drives related aspects of Awign’s product development. Prior to joining Awign, Gurpreet worked as a software engineer with Arista, where he gained experience on running projects and businesses.
A leading IT solutions provider headquartered in the UK wanted to update and redesign its webpage to scale its overseas operations. Post a tedious hunt, the enterprise was able to set up a team of gig professionals with the right skill set who worked on the project for over two months. Not only was the team able to launch the website within the designated time period, but the enterprise found it to be a cost-effective outcome-driven strategy.
While this system of ‘offloading work’ looks like a new phenomenon, the history of the gig economy is as old as the formal economy. Not just globally, what’s interesting is its influence on India’s labour market too in recent years. One of the key drivers of this is the COVID-19 pandemic, which propelled the gig economy to newer heights. According to a report, India’s gig sector has the potential to expand at least 2x the pre-pandemic estimates. Before delving deeper into the transition, it has brought, let us first understand what the gig economy means as a whole and the characteristics that define the ecosystem.
Back to the basics
The gig economy is based on flexible, temporary, or freelance jobs connecting enterprises and gig partners through an online platform. It is based on a holistic approach, poised to benefit workers, businesses, and consumers by making work more flexible and tailored to specific needs. Gigification of work entails enterprises getting their core and recurring work done through outcome based and on-demand gig workforce. It is a holistic ecosystem as the latter gets the flexibility to work around their boundaries and choose projects that they want to work on. Rather than receiving a regular paycheck, the partners are compensated for every ‘gig’ or ‘task’ that they complete to fruition. In simple terms, delivery agents of commerce and food delivery services, drivers of ride-hailing platforms, yearly auditors, freelance graphic designers, test proctors among others are some of the examples of gig partners.
Does everything fit the bill?
It is imperative to dispel the common misconception that only certain jobs or roles can be gigified. In industries with extensive distributed operations, there are certain job types that are ‘gigable’ in the low, mid, and high skill segments – those that could be delivered on task or time-based hiring, with hiring done via technology platforms. According to a report, construction, manufacturing, retail, transportation and logistics – the four major business sectors – might account for roughly 70mn of the potentially gig employment . However, India’s gig economy has grown and is predicted to thrive and expand in areas such as FMCG, BFSI, Assessment, Ecommerce, Automotive, Media and Entertainment, to mention a few. The report also states that as many as 24mn roles might transition to technology-based gig platforms in the near future.
While almost every role can be gigified, let’s understand the top four categories of gigable roles in corporate and MSME jobs
Skilled roles – These roles require basic skills and knowledge in the required field
Ex. Tele-Callers, Auditors
Generic roles – In these roles, basic qualifications are required, but one doesn’t need to be necessarily skilled in the field.
Ex: Digital Content Moderator
Unskilled roles: These are positions with lot of flexibility and do not require any special training or skills for the person to complete the task to fruition
Ex: Delivery Riders, Due Diligence Executives
Expert Roles – These roles are for professionals with years of experience and expertise in their field such as marketing, operations, and consulting
Ex: Engineering Manager
Gigification roadmap for enterprises
Enterprises will need to start with quantifying the deliverables- it’s a critical step to specify exactly what is expected so that your gig partner/team can align accordingly. Moving forward, define their skills to get the ‘right fit’ for your task and map out clear SOPs (standard operating procedures) that serve as a guide for the gig partner to provide a consistent and predictable result. Ultimately, having a robust tracking system for scheduling assignments and keeping a track of timesheets and tasks completed will ensure an outcome-driven setup. Partnering with platforms that are equipped with the technical architecture and tools to leverage AI’s capacity to analyze and interpret data, aids in matching the business challenge to the solution. Additionally, the use of innovative technology to track, monitor, manage, and pay your gig partners is also required for the efficient administration of a contingent workforce. Digital technologies not only increase productivity, but also compliance, and simplify operations. Another key facet is the quality control (QC) layer to ensure gaps are bridged and a healthy environment of review and feedback is developed to help scale the business.
Helping connect the dots
While a few years ago, this looked like a behemoth task for enterprises, with the emergence of work fulfillment platforms and tech advancements, the burden on enterprises has reduced drastically. With the aim to leverage India’s population and its skillset, work fulfillment platforms have taken the plunge to help Indian businesses overcome their ‘next business challenge’ with outcome-based personnel support. The advent of such effective gig labour platforms demonstrates both the existing demand and the enormous promise that the gig economy offers. As mentioned before, it is not a new industry; rather, it is a shift in how we work and people are sought out, contracted, and compensated. It has the ability to provide millions of employments and livelihoods across white-collar and low-income workers while also increasing economic value and GDP growth. To unbundle the stack and unleash the full potential of the gig economy in India, it is important that an ecosystem of platforms, enablers, and policies work in complete harmony.