“With a greater influx of millennials into the workforce, all previous assumptions of what works to keep employees engaged and motivated are breaking down,” Richard Lobo, head HR, Infosys.
What Lobo is referring to, is the Uberization of the workforce, something that grown into a popular trend lately. It’s the paradigm shift from the conventional 9-5 job format that was highly inflexible to the new freelanced or crowdsourced system where employees get flexibility, work-personal life balance, job satisfaction, and more.
The Evolving “Uberization”
McKinsey has already discovered that financial incentives have lost their charm and no longer seem to motivate the employees of today. These millennials prioritize a comfortable and amiable workforce culture instead. They want a sense of satisfaction from their work, and that’s a lot to do with how much flexibility they have in their jobs. This is where workforce uberization comes into the picture. Uberization of the workforce is based on the supply and demand model. So, companies can appoint a certain number of employees with varying skill set on a contract basis. Depending on the projects they get, they can hire employees with the exact skills they need. There is no cost of reskilling in this format, and the employees can enjoy work flexibility too.
Indian IT Companies Take the Lead
A good example of workforce uberization in IT companies is Wipro’s acquisition of crowdsourcing platform Appirio that took place a year ago. It’s a large-scale platform where other businesses can raise their IT requirements along with their budget and the firm then provides the workforce on a contract basis. So, the demand is met with the apt supply. No resources are wasted, and the project requirements are also met perfectly.
TopCoder, which is another platform owned by Appirio has over 1 million IT professionals and is serving as a powerhouse for Wipro.
Abidali Neemuchwala, CEO, Wipro believes that “the future of work in the IT industry is going to get uberized”. So, a Wipro employee can work 9 hours at the office and then spend a few hours more on Topcoder to make extra money. This is what he believes is going to be the future of IT.
IT firms are no longer hesitant in appointing top-level freelance executives too. For instance, Bangalore-based IT infrastructure and cloud services company Microland hires a number of senior employees on a contract basis. In fact, its corporate communications leader himself is an independent consultant.
Truelancer is another good example that shows how big the freelance model is in India. Some startups, especially IT companies hire employees on a contract basis from it for jobs such as app development, website development, etc. However, the platform Truelancer itself has a full-time core team of just seven employees. The remaining work such as graphic designing, digital marketing, etc. is delegated to freelancers.
What’s the Future Like?
Today, there are 15 million Indian freelancers, which accounts for about 25% of the entire Indian workforce. So, what does it tell us? Well, if we compare ourselves with the US, where a third of the workforce are freelancers, then we may be still slightly behind. However, more and more US based businesses are sourcing IT related jobs from India because of the easy availability of skilled employees at lower costs.
Moreover, there is a paradigm shift in the recruitment industry that’s easily observable. While for many years the typical jobs that were sourced by freelancers fell into the domains of designing, programming, etc., lately, core operations such as strategy and business development, finance, together are also becoming popular in demand. In fact, as per a recent survey by Flexing It, they make up for 70% of the independent talent pool today.
So, in a nutshell- crowdsourcing and freelancing are here to stay. As more and more companies are realizing the potential of this new format of a work culture- its benefits and reach, we will see more “uberised” jobs in the market. This is further powered by the global reach of the Internet that allows for seamless communication irrespective of time and location today.
Companies, especially in the IT industry that are open to change and innovative pathways are the ones to stay ahead of others. Others may face tough times ahead.

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