What does the ‘gig’ economy mean for me?

What does the ‘gig’ economy mean for me?

New ways of working are bound to change our lives and careers in the near future, but are labour laws keeping up with technological developments?


New technologies used by online companies like Uber and Airbnb allow more people to work for themselves or make extra money, but the changes they bring to our careers and lifestyles come with a cost, too

I believe that the ‘gig’ economy has an overall beneficial impact on the economy and people’s quality of life.

First of all, such an economic model, which refers to an environment where people work on a temporary basis, is more convenient for consumers. The gig economy makes use of technology to design apps or programs that revolutionise our way of life. For instance, Uber has developed an app that allows users to track and hail nearby drivers. In the past, passengers would be waving their arms frantically on the streets just to get a cab. Now, they can hop into a car at a reasonable price with just a few clicks on their phone.

The gig economy’s convenience promotes consumption and investment. As the gig economy flourishes, more professionals and talented people, especially those of a young age, will be drawn in. Thus it can stimulate a country’s economy.

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Apart from being more convenient, the gig economy provides a platform for young people to share and actually implement their ideas. Technological advances over the last decade have allowed people to start up their own businesses or design their own apps. For instance, more and more people are running online stores selling their handmade or self-designed products. This not only promotes creativity, but allows more people to become entrepreneurs to realise their goals. This in turn enhances their self-satisfaction, so is beneficial to their quality of life.

However, I doubt whether these benefits can be sustained and enhanced in the long run. Too many shops selling similar things may be flooding the internet and problems with labour protection and workers’ rights may emerge.

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I am quite certain that the gig economy will affect my working life in the future. First, it brings about a social norm of individuality and freedom as people become their own bosses. This can allow jobseekers to achieve a better work-life balance. The current working population are often criticised for being workaholics and not spending enough time with their families. In the gig economy, such a problem could be lessened as workers get to choose when to work and when to rest.

However, on the other hand, the gig economy will bring a lot of instability to the income and livelihoods of many workers. As most companies run on a tight budget, they may not be able to afford labour insurance or other forms of welfare and protection. In fact, without binding legislation, companies will not be willing to pay for such expenses even when they have the capacity to do so.

Unless labour laws are modified in line with economic and technological developments, my working life in the future could be a daunting one.

Hetty Ma is the Champion of the Senior Category of the Heep Yunn SCMP Newspaper Report Competition (2016-2017). Congrats to Hetty and our other winners, Kristy Lam and Maggie Cheng.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
What does the ‘gig’ economy mean for us?


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