A few Oxford researchers built a site (http://ilabour.oii.ox.ac.uk/online-labour-index/) to track activities on such platforms and according to their study conducted in 2016 across Spain, France, Sweden, Germany, and the USA, they estimated that 30% of the independent workers were Freelancers and 40% were Income Top-up. Implying 70% of the independent workers belong to this category. Moreover, as we discussed, these two categories of independent workers are online on these platforms as a preferred choice. Unlike the other two types which are there out of necessity. This paper, therefore, restricts the research to Freelancers and Income Top-Up, categories of independent workers as they are a more stable set of participants on these platforms earning income from these platforms as a primary source.

‘Platform’ economy is characterized by firms advertising independent work opportunities and individuals finding such work. Work may be delivered online or offline and subsequently submitted online. There are several types of work that are available online, from very simple to very complex. Work that may be completed by an individual or intricate work that may require a remote team to work together to complete. This paper will focus only on individual work and the motivations of these individuals to seek independent work. And team-related work has been excluded from this study. Simple work includes examples like click-work – typing medical transcripts or delivery of data entry work. Examples of other kinds of skills or work that deliver on these platforms include professional services like those performed by a remote finance professional or an accountant working through your tax filing. On the demand side, we have firms that are advertising independent work online. On the study of literature to understand their motivations and transition to such online platforms, it is found that firms are also working through their constraints of finding the right skills as and when they need them and all this is keeping an eye on cost. Access to skills is largely limited to how they operate, especially in terms of geographic spread. 

DOT1 Solutions Private Limited

Data collection method

Four-year data from 2017 to 2020 was collected from https://ilabour.oii.ox.ac.uk/. (a) Dataset pertaining to Country- Occupation – Number of independent workers (b) Dataset pertaining to Continent-wise Countries included (c) Dataset pertaining to Country- Occupation – Number of Projects
Four motivations were identified, which was used to compare by firms, freelancers, and Income Top-Up professionals: (a) Work-Life Balance (b) Flexibility to work online and remote (c)  Independence to choose what kind of Work you would like to do (d)  Ability to choose working hours
First Survey of 10 firms. The firms cut across the following industries: (a) Financial Services (b)  Life Sciences (c)  Media & Entertainment (d)  Retail (e) Services
Second Survey of 20 Freelancers. (a) Occupations surveyed – (i) Creative and multimedia (ii) Writing and translation (iii) Software Development and Technology (b) Age Groups surveyed – (i) 25 or less (ii) 25 – 50 years (iii) 50+ years
Third Survey of 20 “Income Top-Up” professionals. (a) Occupations surveyed – (i) Creative and multimedia (ii) Professional Services (iii) Software Development and Technology (b) Age Groups surveyed (i)  25 or less (ii)  25 – 50 years (iii) 50+ years


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Over the last decade, there has been a shift in the workforce to online, seeking work which they can deliver from the comforts of their home or remote. This is the beginning of what is referred to as a ‘gig’ platform. The nature of work is referred to as Independent Work. Work that is characterized as (1) High degree of autonomy (2) Payment by assignment (3)  Short-term duration. Contract workforce is not included in Independent Work as they are covered under labor contracts. They typically work like full-time employees, though they are not so technically. To enable the participants to engage, there has been a rise in ‘Platforms’ – digital platforms that enable firms and individuals to find each other online, and handshake for business. The work may be delivered by individuals remotely. They may work online or finish work offline and submit work online. And payments are made by the firm to the individual. The are several motivations why individuals and firms register on these platforms to transact and complete work.

Data analysis method

Cross-tabulation to build decision models using 2017-2020 data: (a)  Country-wise breakup of Top Occupations (based on number of independent workers) (b) Country-wise breakup of Top Occupations (based on number of projects) (c) Top N Countries for Independent work (d) Top N Occupations for Independent work (e) Growth of workers Year-on-Year for Top N countries
Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) comparison for motivation reasons, as compared by 10 firms (a) Compare and identify top motivation reasons for individuals to come on ‘gig’ platform (b) Calculate Consistency Index and Consistency Ratio
Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) comparison for motivation reasons, as compared by 20 freelancers (a)  Compare and identify top motivation reasons for freelancers to come on ‘gig’ platform (b)  Calculate Consistency Index and Consistency Ratio
Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) comparison for motivation reasons, as compared by 20 Income Top-Up (a) Compare and identify top motivation reasons for Income Top-Up to come on ‘gig’ platform (b) Calculate Consistency Index and Consistency Ratio

Motivating factors for Freelancers to seek independent work

“Work-Life Balance” is 1st choice for Freelancers followed by “Flexibility to work From Home”
Value communication may therefore be created around these two motivating factors by ‘gig’ platforms

The ‘gig economy’ or ‘platform economy’ has seen unprecedented growth in certain occupations, and individuals and enterprises are registering on these platforms to find independent work and look for remote workers respectively. Especially since March 2020 with the COVID pandemic. There are also businesses or start-ups that are planning to or have already started to build such online platforms to enable ‘gigs’ online. This paper will contribute in the following 2 areas (and 3 stakeholders): (1) Use Descriptive Analytics, Cross-Tabulation, to provide Decision Support to senior leadership in the marketing function who are planning to or have recently started to build an online ‘gig’ platform to understand the ‘gig’ economy (2) use Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to help marketing practitioners and research scholars on how to quantitatively identify motivations why firms and individuals (e.g. freelancers) seek remote workers and independent work, respectively, on ‘gig’ platforms. The author has identified a gap through research literature review and surveys with over ten firms and 40 professionals in applying quantitative techniques to identify motivations for joining the ‘gig’ platform. Current methods are qualitative. This paper will plug the gap in practitioners and academia in providing clarity to their marketing team or third-party advertisers, creative agencies on how to devise go to market communication based on the, now, quantitatively identified motivations. It will also help marketing practitioners and academia to understand the ‘gig’ platform – occupations, country-wise potential, the year-wise trend over the last 4 years (2017- 2020).

‘Gig’ economy or ‘Platform’ economy if for independent work alone and not for full-time work hence the term ‘gig’. Independent work is short-term work and you are paid on basis of work completed and delivered. No work. No Pay. To differentiate from regular work/job and a regular salary. Secondly, independent workers usually work remotely; in fact, they may be working in another country. For example, in the USA, a firm may look for software development expertise for say a period of 1 month and may seek a remote worker working as far as in India.

There are 2 triggers for individuals to come online (1) wanting to earn through independent work as a source of primary income or (2) wanting to earn from independent work as a stop-gap arrangement till you are able to find full-time position. Within these two triggers, there are additionally two further sub-categories.

Freelance: these are independent workers who come have chosen the ‘gig’ platform and independent work as a preferred choice. They earn their primary income from the ‘gig’ economy and through the delivery of independent work
Income Top-up: these are independent workers who do not necessarily need an income (e.g. students or pensioners or seniors – above the age of 65) who seek independent work to have an income to pursue their aspirations or goals. And they also come online to these platforms as a preferred choice of employment and income.
Job Loss: these are individuals who have lost their job and while they look for a full-time job, they take up independent work out of necessity. And this becomes their primary source of income
Making Ends Meet: these are individuals who have been through a salary cut or their current salary is unable to make ends meet. Hence they chose this take up independent work to bridge the gap in their income. Till such time they are able to find a job that pays to their expectations and needs.

The use of Analytic Hierarchy Process to identify value communication for independent workers on ‘Gig’ Economy

Conclusion regarding ‘gig’ economy

The top countries supplying independent workers among the 191 studied across 4 years 2017 – 2020 are:
In terms of number of workers (1) India (2) Bangladesh (3) Pakistan
In terms of number of projects (1) India (2) United States (3) Canada
The Top occupations are: (1) Software development and technology (2) Creative and multimedia (3) Sales and marketing support (4) Writing and translation
However, it was noted that firms are reducing non-essential expenses, post-Covid 19 and therefore occupation like ‘Sales and marketing support” has taken a dip since March 2020.