#LockdownTimes – A Gig Economy Challenge

By Aditya Mishra | April 6, 2020

As all establishments are under lockdown, there is no demand of workers. Essential commodities are the only exceptions. We see demand for delivery boys for food, grocery, milk, medicine etc. There is demand for health workers too. This spurt in demand has come up due to two reasons.

First, a large part of these people were migrant workers; many of them left for their home towns when various State governments initiated lockdown. Further, many others panicked when pan-India lockdown was announced; they have gone away to their villages or home towns to unite with their respective families at this hour of crisis.

Secondly, many families being in lockdown condition have been ordering items of essential needs for home delivery. The retailers and small businesses are looking for additional hands to cater to these needs. After the situation stabilises, they will let these people go.

Most number of people in India are employed by MSMEs, construction sites and large factories and supply chains. And another large segment of our people work independently as micro-enterprises. All of them have been under lockdown; so, most people in India are without work right now. As soon as normalcy is restored, the pent-up demands in many industries will come back to play and in a matter of 3-4 weeks, normal levels of  work will restart in construction sites, manufacturing plants and the supply chains. Soon enough, the MSMEs and the micro-enterprises will start running as usual.

A Lull Phase

Gig workers have no work through the lockdown period. Exceptions are the essential commodities and IT sector to a large extent. The IT professionals and functional consultants who work as gig workers in IT sector are not impacted severely though the future is uncertain. The gig workers with the skills in advertising, media, sales, HR, finance, supply chain and operations will not have opportunities until the companies gets back to normal operation.

Learning and Evolving during the Crisis

Companies will learn their lessons through this crisis, there will be major impact on the flow of capital and talent across countries in post-covid era. Companies would like to keep their costs flexible so that they are able to adapt easily. They would increasingly for flexible options of staffing.

Social security measures are certainly an issue for all of us in India. We might see people buying their own insurance covers and the industry innovating new products which will give the cover they are looking for. Social norms are evolving and will evolve faster in post-covid era; people in cities will prefer high-risk high-reward careers and would shift comfortably between full-rime jobs and gig-work. While the attraction towards full-time job isn’t going to pass, they may prefer a gig work with a larger employer brand or an assignment which could raise their market value to a full-time job in a nondescript firm which may not give the booster to his or her career in the long-run.