All You Need to Know About India’s Growing Gig Economy and How to Navigate it

All You Need to Know About India's Growing Gig Economy and How to Navigate it | Upskilling | Emeritus

The pioneers of the term “gig” were jazz musicians who coined the term to refer to musical instruments. A Business Today report reveals that approximately seven million workers in India have switched to working as independent contractors or freelancers who contribute to the gig economy. These are professionals who take on short-term or temporary projects. Such “gigs” have always been around. However, the demand for freelancers has grown manifold worldwide in the past few years.

In India, the concept of the gig economy, or freelancing, is at an infant stage. Although the urban population is well aware of the concept, the rural population has yet to embrace it. Coming back to the urban population, most professionals choose part-time gigs over full-time jobs because of their flexibility.

While the gig economy has created modern employment opportunities, these jobs do not offer privileges that full-time workers get. That’s because gig workers are not considered for labor legislation like minimum wages and limits on working hours.

leadershipWhat is Gig Economy, and How Does it Work in India?

A gig economy is a free-market system where companies hire professionals on a short-term or temporary basis. A few examples of the gig economy include freelance website developers and designers creating and developing a website or landing page for businesses or companies hiring a cybersecurity engineer to secure their internal systems.

The Indian gig economy works on the following principles:

1. Freelancers Can Find Work via Online Applications

Gig workers in India can find opportunities through online platforms like Freelancer.com, Fiverr Upwork, etc. These online applications connect them with clients or companies seeking specific services. You can also leverage social networking platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter to reach potential customers. They can send a cold outreach message highlighting their experience and desire to work with potential clients.

2. Workers Operate as Independent Entities

Individuals working in the gig economy operate as independent entities. For instance, freelancers must set their own rates for their services, and their clients pay them based on the agreed-upon rate.

3. Workers Have Autonomy Over What They Want to Do

There are different types of gig economy jobs that workers can choose from. Since they are independent entities, they can choose any job. Let’s look at some of the top skills among gig workers:

  • Food delivery drivers
  • Education and training
  • Copywriting
  • Administrative
  • Software development
  • Accounting and finance
  • Digital Marketing
  • Project management

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What are the Benefits of Freelancing in the Gig Economy?

The Indian gig economy offers several advantages for individuals seeking flexible and independent work. Here are some key benefits:

digital marketing1. Equal Opportunities

The gig economy provides equal opportunities for everyone. Anyone with an internet-enabled smartphone can monetize their skills to earn a livelihood. According to India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy, the participation of women and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) has heightened in the gig economy due to its equal opportunities. Moreover, online platforms reduce the discrimination professionals face in full-time jobs.

2. Employment Opportunities During a Dynamic Business Environment

A dynamic business environment has led to a slowdown in regional and global economies, leading to organizational downsizing and cost-cutting. This has forced most of the Indian workforce towards a flexible work environment, and freelancing provides them with this opportunity. Interestingly, many Indian companies have started a gig platform that helps them hire freelancers. For instance, Hindustan Unilever, one of India’s most prominent and fastest-moving consumer goods companies, has launched Open2U. This gig employment model allows skilled freelancers to work as consultants on fixed-duration projects.

3. Flexibility

The gig economy offers flexibility and freedom to individuals in various ways. It allows freelancers to work freely. Independent workers can work on their own terms—they can decide when and how to work. For instance, a new dad need not apply for a leave of absence to care for their infant. They can take on work that matches their schedule.

What are the Challenges Faced by Freelancers in Navigating Gig Economy?

Here are some of the challenges faced by freelancers in navigating the gig economy.

Income Stability

According to a study conducted by the University of Bristol, over half of gig economy workers in the UK are earning below the minimum wage. The study indicates that inconsistent and low payments challenge the gig economy. This results in less savings. Also, another recent study published in the Hindustan Times revealed that almost 74% of gig workers still need savings.

Skill Development and Upgrading

Freelancers must continuously upgrade their skills and stay updated with industry trends to remain competitive. Finding the time and resources to invest in skill development can be challenging, particularly when juggling multiple projects and deadlines.

Lack of Benefits

Most freelancers need basic labor rights like minimum wages, limits on working hours, and insurance benefits. Moreover, another challenge of freelancing is that most online gig platforms don’t offer job security, because of which the income is uncertain. Additionally, performance-based evaluation ratings add further to the problem. Freelancers are constantly under pressure to appease their clients for good reviews.

How Can Job Seekers and Freelancers Access Opportunities in the Gig Economy?

Online freelancing platforms and marketplaces have filled the market in the last decade. Several platforms are using which skilled people can secure paying gigs. While each of these platforms works in its way, most of them involve bidding for projects. There are also places where businesses would get in touch directly through these platforms. You can negotiate the terms of the project and the scope involved in working with them.

Here are some of the sought-after freelancing apps in India:

  • Freelance India
  • Upwork
  • Freelancer.com
  • Guru.com
  • WorknHire

These apps democratize freelancing by giving everyone an equal opportunity to connect with clients.

How Can Working Professionals Manage Their Careers as Freelancers?

Working a nine-to-five job can make it challenging to complete freelance work. However, with the below-mentioned tips, one can balance their day job and freelance work perfectly.

  • Fix a schedule that helps you manage your full-time job and freelance gigs
  • Set achievable targets that can be completed on time
  • Maintain clear and timely communication with clients, colleagues, and collaborators about expectations and deliveries

ALSO READ: Here are the 10 Best Jobs to Move Into in 2023

How to Upskill With Emeritus

To thrive in the gig economy, one must occasionally update their skills. Taking an online course from the best universities is one way to upgrade one’s skills and knowledge. Explore Emeritus’ online courses offered in association with some of the best Indian universities. These courses are designed for fresh graduates and experienced professionals to scale their careers to new heights.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are White-Collar Gigs?

White-collar gigs refer to freelance work performed by high-skilled professionals. According to the Economic Times, white-collar gig workers’ participation has increased by 240%. The report further reveals that companies like e-commerce, fintech, health tech, and edtech employ white-collar workers.

2. How are Gig Workers and Freelancers Different From Each Other?

Gig workers are part-time employees who enter into a contract with companies to perform a pre-decided task for a period of time. This makes them eligible for all employee benefits, like minimum wages and insurance services. On the other hand, freelancers are professionals who work on their own with no labor legislation.

3. Which Indian Companies Prefer Gig Workers?

Many Indian companies prefer gig workers over full-time employees. Here’s a list of Indian companies that prefer freelancers:

  • Hindustan Unilever
  • EY India
  • Amazon
  • Axis Bank
  • Tech Mahindra

About the Author


Content Writer, Emeritus Blog
Yashvi is a dynamic content creator with 5+ years of experience crafting content for global brands, specializing in tech, finance, and healthcare sectors for both B2B and B2C audiences. Her diverse knowledge base empowers her to create meticulously researched, value-packed content for the EdTech sector, catering to various audiences. In her downtime, she explores the realms of mental well-being, reflecting her holistic approach to personal and professional growth and deepening her empathy for her audience's pain points and needs.
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