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The workers are employed for a “gig” i.e. a specific job or a period of time – once that is complete, their contractual obligation is at an end. While this kind of work has been in existence even earlier it was not very popular because of the uncertainty of employment. But with the emergence of IT and other start-ups, it has picked up a fair momentum lately.
Gig work, contractual assignments, freelance projects are all different aspects of the same concept of “being your own master” at work.
Gig culture in India
Gig culture in India is popular in the areas of article writing, training and education, and computer animation — but it has entered the IT arena in a much larger vein. With greater exposure to the Internet and mobiles/smartphones/computers, the Indian gig market is expanding and encompasses software development, scripting, network design and deployment, networking ( routing, switching, VoIP, call-center solutions, service provider, security, cloud computing, data storage), coding in a variety of languages as also troubleshooting.
Gig work offer flexibility in terms of time and location- people can work from where they want, can fix schedules as per their convenience, only take up projects that interest them; they can increase their circle of co-workers via the internet.
No “bosses” to cramp their style
The investment is low – an internet connection, a phone, a computer and a work-station. There are no “bosses” to cramp their style. They can build on and enhance their skills through online training, they can set their own terms of payments and schedules. As Indians get a lot of gig work from USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, their earnings are high given the current exchange rate.
Because of the flexibility of this type of work, there is more time for family, friends and for indulging in one’s passions and hobbies. There is greater work-life balance.
Downsides to gig work
But there are a few downsides to gig work too. Many people are scared to dip their toes in the uncertain world of gig work – there is no guaranteed monthly paycheck and they have to sell their skills in a concerted manner to land good, interesting, well-paying gigs.
They have to register on a large number of job portals, freelance , social networking and micro-blogging sites to increase their exposure and get noticed. It takes time to establish oneself and get a good name but under-cutting and under-bidding is a common practice in India and can take away old customers too. It may force them to charge so low that they don’t even break-even.
No legal contract for gig work
In India, there is no legal contract for gig work – the work is done on trust. But this can lead to under-paying or refusal to pay so workers can get cheated of their payments. This is a major risk when dealing with unknown customers. There are no laws to help them just as there are no health/medical benefits, insurance, purchase accounts, company paid leave/training etc for these gig workers. All expenses are their own.
As a result, even though gig work is all set to become a big part of the new work culture in India, it should be taken up only by those who can handle uncertainty and enjoy the competition and challenges of chasing and getting assignments.