The biggest challenge which is foreseen due to the advent of COVID 19 is labor and employment (not employability) challenges. Employment is going to be scarce not only in India, albeit globally too. In the Middle East people have been thrown out of jobs; in the USA, people are stranded; because of H-1B expiring, all of them need to come back. All this will take time to settle down. A leading India-based retailer at UAE had arranged 10 chartered flights to bring their employees and their families back to India. Two flights had already repatriated them back by the second week of June 2020. In the third week of May 2020 forty million people had filed for unemployment benefits in the USA. Hence it is a given fact that there will be challenges on the employment front. But at the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that many of the people can do most of the jobs from remote locations and hence more and more companies would prefer to take gig economy route or part-time hires.
What is Gig Economy?
A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments. The term “gig” is a slang word for a job that lasts a specified period of time. Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors. But nobody could predict that the world would move toward Gig Economy due to this dreaded virus. Digitization and WFH (Work From Home) are major drivers for this trend and COVID 19 would be accelerating this new trend.
But is it possible for even technical jobs to be moved toward gig economy? This could be a possible question. The prolonged lockdown has given a probable answer to this. I was surprised when I heard from Rajakumar, who works as the Technical Head in an Oil and Gas company at Abu Dhabi, that for almost 90 days he was able to WFH even though he is in a technical role. This goes on to show that even a highly technical work can be executed from remote locations if we can equip people with right tools and infrastructure. Rajakumar is only an example quoted here since the lockdowns have shown the humungous possibilities of working from remote locations in various sectors. Yes, certain roles like manufacturing, retail sales cannot be done from remote locations but many of the deskwork can be moved to remote locations.
Expose the Incompetent:
So the gig economy is going to be a reality in the new world and people who had looked at job security would have to learn to adapt to the new reality and new-normal. The gig economy is going to force people to come out of their comfort zones since there is no term such as job security and other benefits that would accrue in traditional employment. People would also have to equip themselves with new technologies and developments. One of the biggest challenges that the gig economy would throw is that it would expose the incompetency and inefficiency of the people. It would also reward performers. One may like or dislike what I am saying here but the truth of the matter is that the traditional methods allowed certain superiors to cover up for the inefficiency of their team members but now that would be impossible. The old order had its benefits but it also had lots of flaws and those flaws would be corrected due to COVID 19. So this is going to be a whole new world, which we would be entering.
Efficiency, Effectiveness, Competency would triumph in this new world and there would be no place for incompetent people. People with the right attitude and willingness to embrace change and being adaptable to learn new things quickly and are inclined to stretch themselves to deliver more than what is expected are going to be the champions in the new order of the world. Let us not try to control the uncontrollable instead “Make the Trend as your Friend” and adapt to the new realities of the world.