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Is There A Brick Back In Gig Economy?

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Recently, I am sure many readers read about the “Food Delivery Blackout”. There were about one hundred food delivery riders gathered at one of the leading digital transportation companies. I am sure many of us empathized with them as they brave the rain to fight for their rights however, some felt otherwise.

As they list their demands, we also read many brick backs from the readers. Some commented and compared their average earnings against those in the office environment, while some are more concerned about the riders’ behaviors on the road.

I agree that some behaviors are uncalled for but there are times, we do empathize with them. I have seen some riders bring along their kids when they performed their delivery. During off-peak, there are some sit and rest at the bus-stop shelters waiting for the next queue on orders, while some sleep to get a moment of rest. 

Their Own Community

There are many times, I have seen these riders when they are caught with unfortunate accidents or some face problems with their vehicles. In such circumstances, I am sure many of you have seen other riders stretch their helping hands to help the victims in need. The thing that amazes me is that the one that extended their help to the victims may be coming from the same or different platform they are working with.

One day, as I was at the front traffic light waiting for it to turn green, suddenly a motorcyclist flew off his bike and fell off to the ground next to my car. At that moment, the traffic light turns green, and I was going to stall my car aside to extend my help. Before I could do that, a few riders already running toward the victim to help him. You can see these guys are like family, they are fast in extending a helping hand in times of need.

I suppose we need to understand that these are some traits of a gig worker.

Why does Gig Economy exist?

Before we even have thoughts about discriminating against these gig workers, do we know why this Gig Economy exists in the first place?

For consumption purposes, Gig Economy is nothing new. Merriam-Webster defined Gig as a work that is engaged for a specific duration. This gig work was incepted many years ago in the 1915s by a jazz musician.

To many ordinary people, these gig workers are known as freelance workers, independent contractors, or contingent workers who are paid based on per job basis.

Over the years, the gig economy has evolved and today there are different kinds of gig works and models. Technically, one is known as on-demand work and the other is crowd work.

  • An on-demand work is commonly used by product or service companies that use gig workers as a revenue stream. The companies that use these workers usually have a work location and a standard work output.
  • Crowd work is usually used by any company that has ad-hoc work with defined timelines, and deliverables and can be location independent. They can work anywhere, anytime, and any place.

This gig economy has evolved tremendously and there are a least 4 million gig workers in Malaysia based on the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) 2020 report.

Regardless we like it or not Gig Economy is here to stay. But as an individual, or an enterprise business or organization, do you understand the fundamentals of the Gig Economy? Do you know their differences as to how you should formulate the right model and approach? Are you setting up your gig economy structure at the right pace?

Developing a Gig business model

Many thought that setting up a Gig Economy framework or structure is a straightforward process. But, it may not be as straightforward as it seems. Many are unprepared for the brick back as we must be aware that the gig economy is dealing with individual gig workers or self-entrepreneur who have no obligation like full-time workers.

Some felt that getting the gig system ready and starting to engage gig workers is the entire spectrum of its gig economy solution.  On the other hand, some will look at the entire business model and determine which appropriate gig economy structure to use.

But in a better situation, one must determine which gig model is appropriate for the business or organization before they even start engaging a series of gig workers.

Usually, for small retailers, it is probably easier and more straightforward to engage with marketplace platform providers for their gig workers’ services. But for larger enterprises or businesses that want to complement their products with gig services that have a revenue stream, then the framework varies.  Therefore, it’s important to understand the fundamentals, objectives, and purposes so that they are prepared for any consequences.

But before one starts to engage gig workers, try to determine the objectives and purpose of the engagement. Thereafter, develop the gig policy so that both the organization and the gig workers can understand the consequences and how to address them.

The importance of the Gig Economy policy

First and foremost, we need to understand the purpose of a policy. A well-documented policy will help one to establish a process and procedure so that one can create a strategic roadmap to determine the desired outcome that one wants to achieve. Usually, a well-written policy will include defined rules, regulations, guidance for decision-making, and perhaps other governance and control. It can be a reference guide for day-to-day operations and even serve as a communication tool for everyone to understand the objectives, goals, and purposes.

Here are some considerations to include in the policy,

  • the benefit and its purposes
  • who are involved in the entire engagement
  • the rules or even standards required to perform the services
  • the code of conduct, representation, and even the restrictions
  • the consideration, the compliances with legal, statutory standards
  • The conflict and problem as how to address it
  • Not forgetting the custodian as well

There are many more one can add-on to the policy but at the end of the day, it has to be clear for all the stakeholders to understand the mechanisms that are outlined in the policy.

We must remember, gig workers have their own community. While I applaud them for being their own community, however, there is still some code of conduct one must observe as gig workers represent an organization or an institution. But how does one define it so that it will be a mutual policy for both parties? Therefore, for one who likes to start the gig economy model in their organization, it may be viable to approach someone who understands the fundamentals, the mechanism, and perhaps even the consequences so that they can help you to structure the strategies and process in the right manner.

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