Digital existence has impacted all aspects of life, entailing the platformization of the everyday. This could take many shapes and forms such as digital platforms that connect buyers and sellers, technology products and services, as well as those that allow consumers to find jobs/internships online, home cleaning services, professional beauty and wellness services, and much more. Individuals can now easily use their skill sets and earn a livelihood online.
The consequent digitalisation/ platformization of work has given rise to a new classification of labour – platform labour – different from the traditional dichotomy of formal and informal labour. Platform workforce has emerged and grown over the last two years ever since COVID-19 struck us. Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and mobile data. Since the entrance hurdles to such employment are minimal, platforms hold huge potential to unlock millions of jobs in India.
The modern labour marketplace has witnessed the emergence of new classes of labour, gig and platform paintings, respectively. To recognize what every shape of labour entails, how it is probably extraordinary from every different and from different varieties of paintings, and what the brand-new classes suggest for the Indian economy, we flip to India’s labour reforms of the 2020s. The Government of India enacted the Code on Social Security (CoSS) 2020, granting legitimacy to the brand-new shape of labour and paving the manner for complete reforms. CoSS 2020 defines a gig worker as “a person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship”. Further, a platform employee is recognized as a sort of gig employee, in that they are “someone engaged in or task platform paintings, whilst platform paintings is a piece association out of doors of a conventional company worker courting wherein firms or people use a web platform to get entry to different firms or people to resolve precise issues or to offer precise offerings or such different sports which can be notified through the Central Government, in alternate for payment”.
Offering innovative solutions in different sectors, such as banking and sales platforms can create livelihood opportunities for any willing individual, be it students, homemakers, store owners or even those already engaged in the informal sector. With access to internet-enabled smartphones and a monetizable tangible or intangible asset, any individual can turn into a platform worker. Platforms generate self-employment and space to improve or augment one’s income. This flexibility and choice, being the core characteristic of platform work, makes it attractive to the masses. Accelerated growth appears to be the cornerstone of platform businesses across sectors.
Widespread access to the internet through affordable data and devices has contributed to the proliferation of platform-based services across the world. Platforms also display a great deal of interoperability, integrating multiple services for an end-to-end user experience, but also in the process, creating as many more employment opportunities from their single app. By their very nature, platforms have a wide reach and nearly no entry barriers for their workers. In developing countries like India, the gig workers or partners are independent contractors associated with a technology platform where they offer/ advertise their services so that end users (citizens) can find them. The phenomenon has been carefully crafted to solve inefficiencies in the system. This is done so by plugging in a tech tool to streamline the process with an algorithmic coherence, benefiting service providers and end-users alike.
The platform economy has tremendous potential to unlock jobs in the millions while leveraging technology and innovation to drive social and financial inclusion. This is true around the world. In the US for instance, the gig economy is found to serve as an income supplement and as insurance against entrepreneurial-related income volatility. The introduction of gig opportunities is associated with an approximate 5% increase in the number of new business registrations in the local area, and a corresponding size increase in small business lending to newly registered businesses.
Studies have further found that the increase in the entrepreneurial entry is larger in regions with lower average income and higher credit constraints, as well as in locations with higher ex ante economic uncertainty regarding future wage levels and wage growth. Undoubtedly, there is a crucial need to acknowledge the need for and platforms’ role in promoting creative micro-entrepreneurship: asset ownership and financialization are two key components of this shift. Micro entrepreneurship has long been the cornerstone of the Indian economy, but productivity in this form of work has often been the subject of much debate and scrutiny, mainly because of the fact that formal financial institutions and systems of accounting have not made their way to these small-scale enterprises. This has the potential for transforming the asset monetisation scope of Indian households which remains highly illiquid and pitifully inadequate to meet the needs of a burgeoning youth population. Thus, closer home in India, the digitalisation of work is also a moment of “formalisation” in the largely informal Indian economy. Formalising refers to (a) the financial aspect of a business such as paying tax or filing paperwork with regularity, or (b) conditions of work and the status of workers affiliated with said type of business.
(The author is Mr. Vidyarthi Baddireddy, Co-Founder and CEO at PickMyWork, and the views expressed in this article are his own)