For many who’ve lost their full-time jobs, turning to entrepreneurship tends to be one way to sustain their livelihoods, albeit being one with more risks. On the other end of the spectrum are those joining the gig economy, which has been a welcome cushion for unemployment.
Gig work can be found in almost any sector from modelling to medical work. Since the pandemic though, the term has become more commonly associated with Grab drivers, Lalamove riders, and warehouse sorters, to name a few.
Qwork, a Malaysian-based platform matching gig workers to businesses and vice versa, has seen a 300% increase in users signing up during the pandemic. “To date, we have an estimated 20K gig workers and employers in our gig community,” Muna, its co-founder and CEO, told Vulcan Post.
Having been involved in accounting and finance, Muna has also dipped her feet into the film industry. The latter was where she developed an appreciation for those taking up part-time jobs to fill available gaps in a project.
As a millennial, she believes she’s part of a generation with a myriad of skills, talents, and interests; she saw gig work as an opportune place to explore more flexibility in jobs.
“Next-gen talents (millennials and Gen Zs) are often associated with derogative characteristics such as being ‘easily bored,’ ‘not loyal,’ and ‘lazy’, however, all of these are not true,” Muna elaborated.
“It’s just a matter of different perspectives and different ways of getting things done. To bridge the generation gap, Qwork serves as a means to manage the expectations on both ends.”
That was the immediate goal of Qwork when it launched in 2016. Since the pandemic, the platform became beneficial to the unemployment problem and essential services’ heavy reliance on gig workers.
“Giggifying” the workforce
Qwork functions similarly to GoGet, but perhaps with more of an agency approach in recruiting, training, and matching their gig workers, called “giggers”, to businesses with available positions according to their skillsets.
“At the same time, business owners and corporations can reap the benefits of having them on a flexible basis,” Muna shared. “The training we provide serves to educate our [giggers] regarding the work they will be doing, how to perform the gigs, and their KPIs. In a nutshell, the training manages the expectations of our stakeholders.”
The type of training differs based on the job; to become a food delivery rider, you’d need to take courses on road safety, food hygiene, and the usage of a company’s respective systems. Meanwhile, your KPIs would consist of prompt order pickup and delivery times, as well as high ratings to display customers’ satisfaction.
Gig work tends to cater to the unskilled labour segment of workers. But as society heads towards a digital economy where drones and robots are used for food and package deliveries or warehouse sorting, gig workers would need to adapt or risk being redundant.
However, Muna has prepared for this. “I believe as human beings, we are built to adapt to ever-changing reality. Manual and hands-on gigs will undoubtedly be replaced by robotic tasks. Therefore we also provide upskilling for our gig community, enabling them to prepare themselves for ‘future’ gigs or more skilled to high skilled ‘tech’ centric gigs.”
Taking on SEA
5 years in, the startup has supplied giggers to large businesses including Zalora, Lazada, and DHL. While sign-ups and consultations are free for both businesses and gig workers, Qwork charges employers a fee that includes gig worker salaries and service fees that vary according to the types of gigs.
In early 2020, Qwork was able to expand its operations to Indonesia. Muna hopes to further expand Qwork to Singapore in Q1 2022 before scaling to the rest of SEA.
It will be important for Qwork’s team to fully understand the markets overseas and their regulations when it comes to gig work. For example, Singapore tends to look at gig work—especially the ride-hailing types—as last resort options. Meanwhile, the government has been adamant in helping its economy maintain jobs through measures like the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS).
But Muna is confident, already preparing for Qwork’s Singapore expansion by recently graduating from the Global Launch accelerator programme from 500 Startups Singapore. “This program has helped us unlock Singapore’s market potential by introducing us to key market players and stakeholders and being mentored by a very successful veteran entrepreneur,” she concluded.
Overall, companies serving the gig economy sector are more resilient to economic downturns. They’ve benefitted both businesses and workers in keeping payroll costs light and allowing individuals to earn a full or side income easily.
Qwork, if it’s also able to supply even highly skilled workers in the tech industry, will be a valuable asset to both businesses and job seekers.
- You can learn more about Qwork here.
- You can read about other gig economy related articles we’ve written here.
Featured Image Credit: Muna Munirah, CEO and co-founder; Dini Dalilah, CSO; Mimi Aminah, CTO of Qwork