The number of gig workers rose over 10 per cent from 228,200 in 2020 to 248,500 in 2021, increasing steadily as more look to alternative jobs as a source of income.
According to the Manpower Ministry’s 2020 Labour Force in Singapore report, flexibility and freedom are the top reasons that push workers towards such work arrangements.
However, gig workers also find it tough to find available gigs and they often deal with a lack of sufficient work to keep their income stable. It’s also an uncertain journey.
Recognising this, FastCo, the company behind the jobs portal FastJobs launched their own jobs portal and app specifically for gig workers earlier this year. “During the pandemic, it has become a lifeline to help keep many workers afloat, especially those who were retrenched or furloughed,” said FastGig.
Julian Tan, founder and CEO, FastCo, said that the company is “excited to embark on this journey to help address a critical gap in the current economy.” The CEO added that the platform aims to create job flexibility for both workers and businesses, by tapping on its app technology and ease of use.
FastGig said the response has been positive since its launch in February – to date it has matched over 2,500 unique “giggers” with gig work opportunities.
The creation of FastGig
“It took us about one year to take the FastGig concept – from ideation to prototyping, to the official launch,” said Julian.
“Flexible staffing is an area we have been exploring for some time. We started developing FastGig back in 2020 when we noticed the demand on both the employer and worker side accelerating.”
“Increasingly, we are hearing from businesses that the frequency and size of their worker demands are becoming more volatile and unpredictable, and mistakes in workforce planning can be costly.”
Julian cited some instances when gig work is required – when there are not enough workers to fulfil extra demand during seasonal peaks, creating bad experiences for hard-won customers, and when there are too many full-timers on staff, but not enough business.
“Of course, the labour market is ultimately one of matching demand and supply – even if businesses were keen on building a blended workforce, it wouldn’t have worked say ten years ago when flexible jobs were not in demand,” Julian said.
But what the jobs portal provider noticed – especially in recent years – is that more job seekers are demanding flexible jobs to fit their skills and lifestyle.
“Flexibility and control have become as important as the need to earn additional income. However, there were no reliable platforms that workers could rely on to consistently secure gig work, and many opportunities were spread via word of mouth.”
Hence FastGig was created to serve the needs of both employers and workers, said Julian.
What’s the profile of the gig workers?
The gig worker profile is dynamic. There are mature workers who are looking to stay active, but value flexibility to balance their family commitments, or feel like they don’t want to work as much as a full-time job.
Then there are also stay home moms who have difficulty committing to full-time or more permanent part-time work.
Students who have some spare time and want some spare cash are also part of the gig economy.
“But really, the beauty of gig work is that it is open to anyone who is available and open to pick up shifts for extra cash, such as those in-between jobs, caregivers who can’t commit to regular hours, among others,” said Julian.
Do gig workers need to sign a contract per job?
The difference between FastJobs and FastGig is that they target different segments of the workforce, Julian explained.
FastJobs is geared towards the conventional full-time and part-time positions, while FastGig caters to flexible gig work which aims to let users work whenever and wherever they choose.
FastGig is currently available on both iOS and Android app stores and according to Julian, users can easily register for the FastGig platform without jumping through hoops.
The founder shared a simple guide on how to use the app:
1. Users can browse for jobs on the app. The listings will indicate the number of outlets available for a particular posting and the expected pay.
2. After clicking on a job posting, users can see a detailed breakdown of the job description and can book a timeslot at their preferred outlet.
3. Once the booking is confirmed, they can simply report to work at the indicated date/time/location and check in using the FastGig app.
4. After completing the job, they will be paid on the Friday of the following week.
Existing FastJobs users can access the platform without the need for additional registration. Once on the platform, users can select job listings via available locations and time slots on a day-to-day basis.
Gig workers are free to plan their own schedules, choosing to work according to their availability and convenience. “The entire experience from sign-up to payment on the platform is kept simple and fuss-free, even gig workers of above 60 years of age will not face difficulties using it,” he claimed.
So do users need to sign a contract when working a job? “Users can just take one-time slot for a particular job and there’s no contract to be signed,” Julian said.
“Each job posting on the platform can have multiple time slots available and “giggers” will have to choose their preferred time slot to fill. We currently average about 1,400-time slots per week. To date our “giggers” have completed more than 176,000 hours of gig work.”
Julian thinks that the simplicity of the FastGig platform extends to its streamlined payment process – users can enjoy the benefits of choosing to work at multiple businesses without the hassle of having to approach them individually for payment.
The hassle of filling up timesheets is also removed as users clock in at their work locations with a simple scan of a QR code using their FastGig app. Users will be paid directly on a weekly basis.
As a safeguard for FastGig users, only verified businesses and their job opportunities are listed on the platform.
Gig workers interested in grocery shopping jobs
To date, FastGig has worked with dozens of brands to bridge their staffing gap, shared Julian.
Notable mentions include partners such as NTUC FairPrice, Domino’s Pizza, and Phoon Huat, who have leveraged FastGig to scale their operations during seasonal peaks such as Christmas and Lunar New Year.
Currently, the most popular job on the FastGig platform is the Grocery Shopper, said Julian. The job requires fulfilling grocery orders for online customers of supermarkets such as NTUC Fairprice.
This includes picking and packing products from the various stores to pack into bags and boxes for delivery. “The wide range of available locations and time slots also helps to bump this role up in the popularity ladder.”
For businesses, listings on FastGig provides benefits due to the many conveniences the platform offers, Julian claimed.
The automation of timesheets and payment processing cuts down on administrative manpower requirements.
Instead of processing individual payments to the gig workers, businesses would just need to pay FastGig a lump sum on a regular basis to pay out wages. If a user does not show up for work, FastGig can push out shifts urgently, helping businesses to maximise the chances of securing last-minute workers.
How do the gig workers get paid?
FastGig charges the employers who post the job listings a service fee for completed gigs which covers the administrative tasks such as payroll fulfilment for the gig workers.
Employers have to go through some screening before they are allowed on the app and gig workers are paid via GIRO, directly into their bank accounts.
“We conduct job trials for new employers who wish to post their job listings on our platform. For these job trials, a FastCo employee will take on an actual shift to see if the work environment and equipment provided are up to our standards,” said Julian.
“We will only allow job postings to go live if they pass this requirement. On the worker’s side, we believe in giving everyone a chance and will work closely with companies to get input on the performance of individual gig workers. We also rely on the check-in system on the app together with the location tracker during work hours to ensure that the “giggers” report for work.”
Gig workforce here to stay
According to Julian, gig workers are here to stay. “There is demand for gig work and companies can benefit greatly from a blended workforce of permanent and flexible workers.”
The pandemic has changed the perception of gig work and has helped many rely on it as a lifeline to stay afloat, especially those who were retrenched or faced salary cuts.
“There’s also a segment of workers who now place a much higher value on flexibility and freedom, which is what the gig economy is designed to provide,” Julian said.
For businesses, it provides them with the option to tap into an additional pool of workers to complement their existing staff. “This allows companies to easily scale up or down their workforce according to their changing business needs. Given the volatile nature of manpower availability over these past few years, gig workers are a godsend for many employers,” Julian said.
The growing demand for gig work means that employers can factor this pool of gig workers into their manpower resource planning. This will mean that the Singapore workforce is evolving into a more blended workforce with permanent and flexible workers.
Julian thinks that the employment landscape for certain businesses will begin to shift and in time it will become the norm alongside full-time and part-time employment. For example, warehouse and delivery industries may rely more on gig workers for ad-hoc needs.
Especially now that some countries continue to have border restrictions and the cost of hiring foreign workers may climb higher. Businesses will rely on the local gig workforce to tackle manpower challenges for certain roles.
Tapping on gig workers can also help firms accommodate seasonal peaks and help those growing firms scale up quickly by offering on demand jobs.
Featured Image Credit: FastGig