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The Gig Economy And The World Of Unicorns

26/07/2017 13:56 BST | Updated 26/07/2017 13:56 BST
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No-one really knows what the Gig Economy is all about

The Gig Economy is based upon either disrupting an existing big business model or it is providing the tech resources to small business to provide a better service to their customers.

The Gig Economy is also known as the access economy, as a new way to rent a service or use of a product on a short term basis, keeping the investment down to a minimum and actually providing the consumer with certain efficiencies that the provider of the service could not afford to do themselves to due to the resources needed for technology development.

We have all heard about Airbnb, Uber and the App Economy (what Slack, as a successful business has one or two things to teach every single business out there), the future of work, the future of the workplace and what many start-up founders strive for is to take their business to "Unicorn" status.

You may ask what "a unicorn" has to do with business. This is just a metaphor to describe a business which is privately held and has a valuation in excess of $1billion. Here is a list of all the current unicorns.

Vala Afshar has a great perspective on this, the future of work, which is the exact purpose of this article.

If we look to the history that sort of led up to here, we started with email platforms and then we added instant messaging, blogs, wiki's social networking, and file sharing tools. Where do all those tools mesh with all the people that are using them? Where is the future going?

I don't think the future is actually going to be that dramatically different than what we have today.

The chart below shows the daily impressions based on conversations on Twitter containing #gigeconomy:

2017-07-26-1501058553-743444-Gig.png

Like all of these nascent technologies we are running into quite unfamiliar territory; we have no idea really as to what will happen to the state of work.

The only way to combat these problems is by constantly learning how to work with these new technologies and building stable long-term objectives that enable us to benefit from these apps and the services and products that they provide. Perhaps some sort of regulations or a union is needed to regulate the "temporary" arrangements that these companies are creating. We must ensure the sustainability of our economy and communities.

People talk about the Gig Economy only because it sounds kind of "cool"

On Social Media you can see from the use of all the hashtags and the conversations around the topic that most people are confused as to what the term actually means. There are lots of different opinions flying about; hence vast majority of the conversation is categorised as "neutral" by Social Media reporting platforms. Simply because people just mention the term often out of context.

2017-07-26-1501058608-4984359-Sentiment.png

Attitudes differ about the benefits of the Gig Economy

We want everything faster, we want to be able to get a cab within two minutes, we want to be able to get a pizza delivery within 10 minutes... No wonder the number of people using apps to order food is on the rise, as shown in the chart below (created by the Global Web Index).

2017-07-26-1501059419-4908160-Food.png

Some people think that catching Uber is the best thing since sliced bread, others think that Uber has damaged the livelihood of taxi drivers and is filtering money out from the economy.

Some may argue that many of these business models filter out the need for employees and actually they do not pay any taxes, which is not only damaging the people who live in our community but actually the very framework that supports all our lives and culture.

We think that the modern world is an exciting place, the companies that are not completely customer centric are going to disrupt themselves, they are on a one-way ticket to fail.

But it is not about what we think; it is about what we found by using the state-of-the-art social media listening tools. Here are some of the conversations and comments that we found online:

https://twitter.com/AonBenfield/status/886903575934377984

https://twitter.com/art_iculate/status/886512327146835968

https://twitter.com/eksays/status/862214256510590976

https://twitter.com/empsolicitor/status/886905362699476992

https://twitter.com/lavorofuturo/status/885486286005563395

https://twitter.com/NPickavance/status/837843491367620608

Recently, we have heard news about people being paid less than minimum wage, we have also heard about them being able to obtain the same rights as paid "full-time" workers providing they actually do more than 38.5 hours per week. "Last year in the UK an employment tribunal ruled Uber drivers were employees, calling the company's self-employment argument "fictions" and "twisted language". These are the words people use when they are discussing the Gig Economy:

2017-07-26-1501058978-7094803-Gigeconomy.png

There is little information on the legal aspects

Unfortunately, when you get a job at the bottom of the food chain you can get taken for a ride, reading contracts that you do not understand, having policies that are not fair and are usually more often than not based upon a lack of moral fibre within the "human" elements of the business.

Many of the unskilled workforce cannot afford legal advice and are unfortunately at the mercy of the terms and conditions which they more often than not are unable to read. This is something the gig economy somehow came to change but it has been interrupted by constant media speculations.

This new phenomenon is still in its infancy and we need to give it some time to mature. As a result, we need to have some regulations in place in order to protect the future of people and their work. We must be vigilant and keep integrity and ethics in mind.

The media is creating confusion around the topic

Lots of words are being thrown around about disruption and workers' rights and many other click bate headlines and actually they don't provide the real facts to the people who matter and to the very people that are being effected day to day by the "Gig Economy" and short-term employment.

The Gig Economy needs to be more carefully controlled

As you can see lots of people are worried about the way the workers are not treated fairly, much like when some families used to run manufacturing businesses during the 20 century; the trade unions became a must for the workers, as they were not able to negotiate their rights effectively.

Let's not forget that the Gig Economy has not created anything new, the Gig Economy is a response to our sociocultural changes, including the advent of the Internet and the technological advancements. The Gig Economy is just a subcategory of Mass Economy but unregulated. Thus, to protect our Mass Economy and the future of work for the next generation, we should be proactive and bring some rules and regulation to the play.

What do you think about this article? Please use the comment section below to let me know about your views and opinion on the topic of Gig Economy and the current state of business.