[avatar user=”JM” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”file” /]THE COVID-19 pandemic’s enforced lockdowns and strict guidelines have resulted in thousands of jobs lost particularly in the retail, food, and hospitality industries. With thousands of jobless Filipinos, many have started to engage in the so-called Gig Economy or part-time freelance jobs to make ends meet and put food on the table.
Even before the new normal has set in, many employers have begun shifting from traditional employment into outsourcing labor via independent contractors, freelancers, and shared service providers to deliver company needs. The traditional employment system has slowly been replaced with so-called ‘giggers’ and accelerated the entry of independent contractors. As many companies want leaner teams to be able to survive the worsening economic impacts of the pandemic, most find it rational to outsource in the already bustling Gig Economy than to hire in-house employees.
The gig economy is no stranger to many Pinoys. We are naturally ‘madiskarte.’ Even before Gen Z’ers and Millennials embraced freelancing and the growing gig economy, there were already mothers peddling Avon, Tupperware, and Natasha products and passing on brochures from one household to another as early as the 1990s. Even our educators at one time have already sold their tocinos and chorizos after each class to add to their meager salary back then.
Today’s giggers, however, are more technology-driven. With enforced lockdowns and restrictions prohibiting people from roaming around looking for work, most efforts to look for at least a part-time job involve hunting for one through the internet.
According to a 2020 report by Payoneer, an American financial services company, entitled Freelancing in 2020: An Abundance of Opportunities, the Philippines currently ranks first as the Fastest Growing Freelancing Country posting a 208 percent increase in people engaging in freelancing activities followed by India (160 percent), Japan (87 percent), Australia (86 percent), and Hong Kong (79 percent). Other countries in the top ten list that have seen a surge in freelancing activities also include Mexico, Canada, Pakistan, Argentina, and Spain.
It’s important to understand that the year 2020 did bring hardships but the opportunities and the change that it brought were also for the better.
The people who have managed to battle through 2020 are those who understood the importance of the Gig Economy. Despite having studies or full-time jobs, giggers always had a source of side-income on which they could rely on. Through this side-income, they were able to survive through the hard days when their organizations were brought to a standstill.
When asked by some full-time corporate employees where to find online side gigs, I often tell them to try finding extra work at Upwork, Onlinejobsph, PeoplePerHour, or RareJob because these are the websites where I usually hunt or use to offer my skills. If online selling is your thing, e-commerce platforms like Shopee, Lazada, and Facebook Marketplace are the best place to sell various products. There’s also a group on Facebook called Online Filipino Freelancers and Upwork Pilipinas where you can get advice on how to start freelancing and surviving in the competitive gig economy and discuss common struggles and challenges faced by members of the Filipino online freelancing community. In the next column, I’ll discuss in-demand skills for Filipino freelancers in 2021. If you haven’t read the previous Freelancer column, check it out here.