The gig economy and coronavirus. There is a significant correlation between the two.
With the declaration of Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, salaried employees at companies across the country are shifting to work from home relatively with ease. But there are more than 50 million gig workers in the US who do not have the facilities and securities and they are already under the bus amidst the social distancing and self-isolation methods. The freelancers here constitute more than 30% working population and run a trillion-dollar income generation business.
As we all know, a gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. Connecting the gig economy and coronavirus will lead us to conclude a lot of statements. Talking about Covid-19, the pandemic that is on the rise has led to a crazy shut down globally affecting the overall economy and the functioning of not just some but all big and small businesses. While coronavirus is affecting the big players and affecting the functioning of the organisation, the work from home concept is taking a boom amidst the pandemic with a rise in demand for the gig workers as well.
Delivery Service/Ride Servicing
There has been a tremendous increase in food delivery as well as ride delivery with each and everyone either ordering food or groceries online. With many employees working from home and a few travelling, there is a significance for ride services also. Customers are still scared of the fact that there might be chances that the rider is a carrier of the virus. With our increased dependence on ride services, saying no is quite impossible for us now.
With the outbreak going on, mentioning the Uber and Lyft drivers are inevitable. The demand for cabs and rides are very low due to the panic and havoc created by the coronavirus. Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on profits and the ability of the gig drivers to pay their bills. For Uber and Lyft, this means significantly less revenue. But it also means that because of the contractor business model of the companies, Uber and Lyft are much less accountable to their employees and drivers, and leaving its drivers to the dust. This is how we start connecting the gig economy and coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 has been giving people thoughts of owning self-driving care is the future.
What’s the state of gig workers overall?
Even when we say food delivery is still going on, there are a lot of other areas where gig workers are suffering. Health care professionals are recommending social distancing, large gatherings are being banned or cancelled, and all of us are being urged to stock up on groceries. This is going to hurt restaurants, caterers, food trucks and farmers' markets. All of these small-time businesses will be understaffed, supplies will be scarce and customers will be hard to find. The overhead on food businesses is so marginal that even the smallest change to projections can shut down an operation.
And there’s the art industry
Arts and entertainment, sadly, are areas that people often see as "extra" and "unnecessary," so sympathy for starving artists during hard times is scarce. It is something that confuses me because film, television, books, theatre, dance, and paintings enrich our lives. Regardless of our feelings towards artists, there has already been an undeniable loss to the art economy. There has also been a catastrophic loss to the night time industry, effecting the daily wages of small time singers, DJs etc.
Also, the event management industry
Already, coronavirus has shut down music festivals and film premieres around the globe. The Canadian Screen Awards was rescheduled. These are huge economic blows. For every cancelled event, there is a collective of hardworking producers, writers, drivers, personal assistants and technicians who lost out on work they were counting on. Let’s talk about small events too. Weddings are postponed, birthday parties are cancelled. All of them, have cancelled the cake, the food, the decorators and the ushers. Huge blow, isn’t it?
Many company owners suggest that a normal recession will not effect the gig workforce. In fact, it is going to increase their work. People are going to need freelancers. But now, the world is stagnant. Social distancing is at its peak. Companies go too far and state that the gig workers are not employees and deny them any benefits. Most of them think of the possibility that they will be entitled to continue it even after the crisis passes. The maximum that any organization would do, is that they provide a healthcare stipend, which might be the only income for the workers now.
According to Ory Lobel, a professor who studies employment law at University of San Diego, “It might be, despite the fact that there is no rational legal limit to this, that companies are attempting to look as disconnected [as possible] from their independent contractors by not offering any benefits that are associated with the employment relationship,”
This has happened when we were all convinced that the future of work largely depends on the gig economy. This is making a lot of thinkers and scholars rethink their conclusions. However, we can conclude nothing, but wait and watch as to what can be done and what will be done to understand the scope of the gig economy in the future. But one thing, anything far from humanity shall not be supported.