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Global Freelancing: Countries Dominating the Gig Economy

I had a fight with Kalsoom Lakhani over copying the content of this article on LinkedIn.

Now that I have your attention, four years down the lane this content is still relevant. Outsourcing jobs over the internet to use individuals as cheap labor is called the “Gig Economy”. Any time you still have “employees” reporting to managers, it is not a “complete rethinking” of work. It’s a plain old hierarchy, pure and simple. The Gig Economy, perhaps, long overdue given the use of similar platforms in other industries (e.g., advertising) seems like a natural progression of technology and market forces and we should be excited to participate in its unfolding. The gig economy has the potential to change everything.

The Gig Economy is the peer-to-peer economy used in transactions such as ride-sharing and home-sharing. For an English-speaking native, without a doubt, the easiest job to find abroad is a teaching gig. If you travel to countries where your physical appearances stray from the ‘norm’ of the locals, you also may walk down the street and find yourself approached by multiple people offering you modeling jobs.

There are 3.2 billion people, who are trying to improve their lives through education and will be in no better position trying to compete globally as every one of them must match the lowest salary even if currencies are radically valued or devalued. So the employees where their comparable cost of living costs much less making those in countries where it costs more to live effectively poor.

You might have personal reasons for changing focus. Perhaps doing so will be better for your health or let you work more closely with people you admire or maybe just because it would be more fun. Whatever the reasons for a change, the main key to making the transition is to figure out what you can use from your current practice. Even if the new focus is completely unrelated to your current one, chances are they’ll have systems, procedures, and even colleagues and clients in common. Let’s examine that by pretending that we’re switching between two completely different freelance careers say from magazine writing to horse riding instructor.

The key to wealth is leverage, leverage, you must get paid while your sleeping through systems. We are looking at a race to corner the “Cognitive Market” who will build or invest in the best cognitive learning machine (Augmented Intelligence) to process all this data. In a big corporation, almost everything moves slowly. Isn’t that a big opportunity for nimble SMEs?

It’s no secret that the giants of the social media world want people to spend more time on their networks and not on their own websites. The author of the content gets rewarded for their loyalty and use of the product with notoriety. The growth of fake news has had a major impact on people’s trust in information on social networks. Not just news and political statements but even brand messages. With so much competition for digital space, it will be the brands that can foster genuine trust with their audience on social that will be successful. The gig economy revolves around :

  • Apportioning risk and Direct Work
  • Trust building and Inclusion of the ‘single entity’, IP and legal
  • Human choice, “right decision, right time, right reason” ethics
  • Economic differences due to valuations of currencies
  • Creation of cheap labor pools for corporations so they can hire cheap labor rather than locally
  • Middle man treating people as commodity and making (n)xBILLIONS.

Gig Economy of Pakistan

Gig Economy in Pakistan is the same as anywhere worldwide. ForiMazdoori is a Skill Bazaar that provides a digital service that bridges the gap between an employer and a worker by providing an easy-to-use system for searching and hiring every day. Likewise, Mazdur Loog is where contractual arrangements take on completely new meanings. The instances of “wage compression” will far outnumber cases of “dramatically opened opportunities.

The gig economy has been growing rapidly in Pakistan, with a 2017 report by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) ranking Pakistan 4th in the global digital gig marketplace, accounting for 8% of total freelance work. In 2022, the country generated $1 billion in revenue entirely from freelancing gigs. However, while the gig economy has been embraced by many in Pakistan, it is mostly composed of workers who were previously unemployed or have very little experience. This has led to higher participation rates among women and youth, who make up a significant portion of the country’s labor force.

The rise of on-demand startups like Ghar Par and Mauqa.online has further supported the gig economy’s growth in Pakistan. However, larger companies like Uber and Careem have also contributed to this trend by offering more flexible and dignified employment options.

While the gig employment structure is not new to Pakistan, technology and the startup ecosystem have enabled it to become more efficient, increase the number of available jobs, and help alleviate the uncertainty of not having work for days on end. Startups like Sukoon, The Handyman, and Fori Mazdoori are aiming to digitize and automate the process of finding gigs to further improve the gig economy in Pakistan.

However, creating job opportunities while protecting employees is a major challenge for startups in Pakistan. The lack of protections for gig workers under Pakistani labor laws is a setback compared to more Western economies, where traditional jobs come with perks such as health insurance and pension plans. The lack of these perks in traditional jobs has made the switch to temporary work easier for many in Pakistan. As the gig economy grows, it is crucial to look at laws to protect freelancers working within it. Additionally, comprehensive policy-level steps need to be taken, such as developing a telemedicine policy and regulating liability coverage.

Recently, we have seen Careem overtaking UBER by change. The localized competition in commuting services is at the helm of the debacle. The whole UBER thing is coming apart due to economic realities. It costs Uber divers around forty thousand a year to make ten thousand after paying taxes, car insurance, and maintenance and then adding on value to compete with more and more drivers coming online while working forty-plus hours minimum. A few people save some money over a taxi, Uber makes a fortune as the man in the middle and jobs go away.

Challenges with Gig Economy?

Let’s face it – outsourcing is probably unstoppable, but glorifying it as a “gig economy” won’t make the transition in the workforce any less painful. The benefits of a “nimble core of managers” with outrageous salaries is really what it’s all about. So this is really just another justification for the libertarian “dream” of “whoever is the most willing to throw his fellow humans under the bus wins.” Globally, millions will lose their livelihood, and millions more won’t even have a chance to get into the workforce.

Using technology as a replacement for labor to create a man-in-the-middle dollar is creating ridiculous wealth for investors and a few founders while creating hardly any jobs.  The infrastructure doesn’t exist in most truly rural areas to support the broadband necessary to make work-from-home viable for most positions, and building it out isn’t going to be profitable due to the low user density present.

The rise of freelancing has turned the world into a global marketplace, where employers and freelancers from any location have equal chances of success. Employers can tap into a pool of human resources from anywhere in the world, while freelancers can get hired with the help of technology-driven tools, regardless of their location.

According to a report by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), the Asian countries dominate the digital gig economy. The report outlines the top six countries that take up the majority of online jobs in the global freelancing ecosystem.

The report reveals that certain regions are rich in specific types of freelancing talent. For instance, the US is known for its writing and translation work, while India is famous for quality programmers at a cheaper rate, and Bangladesh has an enormous sales and marketing support resource.

India tops the list with 24% of the global online workers residing in the country. Indian workers are highly competitive due to their better education levels and higher technical knowledge. More than 50% of these workers offer software development services globally. The contribution of freelancing to India’s Gross Domestic Product is a massive $400 billion. The country’s popularity in freelancing is due to the reasonable paycheck, which acts as additional or primary income, especially for women professionals and retired people who fail to find adequate jobs due to family and societal pressures.

Bangladesh is the second most popular freelancing destination, comprising 16% of the total pie, with a focus on sales, marketing support, creative and multimedia, software development, and technology. The average wage rate in Bangladesh is meager, making outsourcing a perfect opportunity for people to gain financial independence and earn a better income.

Although the US is not as populous in freelancing as compared to the top two countries, 55 million people rely on it for some extra dollars, and 35% of the American workforce is associated with outsourced work in some way. The outsourced market in the US is evenly distributed among three major segments: software development and technology, creative and multimedia, and writing and translation.

Pakistan ranks fourth, contributing over 8% of the global gig economy, with a rising number of qualified graduates who freelance their expertise. Higher education institutes produce a count of 600 thousand graduates annually from varying fields of business, computer science, and software engineering. Thus, this pool is lured towards freelancing jobs due to their better wage rate. This year, Pakistan has generated a significant amount of $1 billion entirely from freelancing.

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The Philippines follows Pakistan in the freelancing rankings, contributing 6% in the global outsourcing market. One of the primary reasons is the highly concentrated job market in the country, which is pushing people towards freelancing. Another interesting reason is the severe traffic problem in urban areas, making a regular job highly challenging for many. Conversely, freelancing is giving them the liberty to work from home without the hassle of traveling. Filipinos are best suited for content writing, customer service, and technical support jobs due to the country’s nomination as one of the best English speaking countries in Asia.

The United Kingdom stands at number 6 in the market share of the global gig economy, dominating some of the major professional services, including accounting, legal services, and business consulting. Out of the total professional services category, the UK comprises 22%. Other services, such as creative and multimedia skills, are also growing. 29% of university students consider freelancing as part of their career plan, with 87% of students taking it along with their first and second-class degrees. The unstable regular job market after Brexit also has a role to play in boosting the freelancing market in the UK.

Pakistani Social Leverage

I am sharing with you our success secret of online outreach for Zorays Solar Pakistan. In fact, these are the must-haves that I encourage you to employ with your startup to boost its PR image. Analyze these: www.zorayskhalid.com is a Social Media Advertising Blog with Pakistan’s most rapidly organically growing Social Media Website. Remember at Zorays Khalid, companies I have served include enekon.com (experiential design company) opensponsorship.com (sports mentorship) sehat.com.pk (online healthcare) zorays.com (renewables) freshstart.pk (startup directory) royalestate.com.pk (real estate) qarararasha.com (merchandise) globechain.com (listing).

What is in there for the worker? With a surplus of talent — e.g., the current market — how does one charge enough to cover the benefits no longer received because it’s a work-for-hire situation, rather than a typical employee setting? Seems like the upside is all on the employer’s end. IT people, it’s great to explore beyond the gig economy headlines, general concept, and success stories, and start to ask more “how will this really work?” questions. Who loses, what becomes harder, and what foundations (e.g. culture) are a prerequisite for success?

In conclusion, the Asian market still takes the lead in the global outsourcing market due to affordable labor and a highly qualified workforce. Stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices in WordPress development and design. Join my community and take your WordPress game to the next level!

P.S.: i2i Incubator’s Kalsoom Lakhani Copies Content without Credit until challenged.

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