COVID-19 dealt a devastating blow to Filipino workers: when the government imposed the first lockdown in March 2020 to curb the spread of the virus, millions lost their sources of livelihood. Small businesses, including cafes and restaurants, shut their doors, many permanently as the nation of 108 million hunkered down and waited for the pandemic to end. A year later, Luzon is in another strict lockdown and, despite the lifting of some restrictions, the economy is yet to recover.
The job that proved to be resilient during the pandemic is home-based and gig work.
A Different Type of Working Arrangement
Almost all companies that want to remain in operation had to immediately transition their team to work from home. It was the safest option to continue the business without exposing employees to the virus which has so far infected over a million people and killed over 15,000 in the Philippines.
One Filipino senator believes that the current public health crisis will push more Filipino workers to explore the gig economy, the labor market where people enter short-term contracts and freelance roles. Opposed to traditional positions in which workers are tethered under one employer, those in the gig economy work with multiple people.
The gig economy allows flexibility among workers. The worker can choose when they can report to work or when they can take a break, as long as they are able to finish and submit their tasks. Moreover, they have the freedom to say no to a given task or only work with certain organizations. There is no requirement that forces them to accept work that they do not want to do.
For many, joining the gig economy was a choice that affords them freedom over their own time and life. Others, however, are and will be forced into it by their circumstances.
Before jumping into it, here are a few things that Filipino workers need to know about the gig economy.
You Need a Few Things
Your clients do not employ you full-time. There is no incentive nor a requirement, therefore, for them to provide you the tools you need in order to perform your temporary role.
A gig worker is expected to report with all the necessary tools needed to complete the tasks they were contracted to do. For delivery persons, they must have a bicycle or a motorcycle which they will use to move around the area they are paid to cover. For call center agents or personal assistants, they need a laptop or a desktop computer, a stable internet connection, and a headset. Many people use the Plantronics headset for call centers, which already come with its own noise-canceling microphone and crisp voice quality earpieces.
The tools you need will depend on the type of work you hope to do. You would need to invest in quality tools before you even enter an agreement and be paid by a client. However, you will be able to gain your expenses back from the savings you will make by not commuting to and from work.
There are Slow Periods
You may not always get work. There are numerous clients out there who are looking for freelance talent, many of them are from out of the country. However, the gig economy is also highly competitive. There are people like you who are also on the search for an individual or organization that temporarily needs their skill set and expertise.
Be prepared for moments when you are not busy. Make sure to save money so that you can continue to survive with this lifestyle without a steady source of income. As soon as you can, consider investing your money and allow it to grow.
Treat Freelancing as a Business
Freelancing is a business transaction, and it should be treated as such.
Like any other business, there should be a record of every agreement that you enter with a client, the payment you have received, the payment that is still pending, your expenses, and other relevant information. This will help you when it is time to pay your taxes.
Moreover, a record ensures that you are earning the money promised to you and clients are not skipping payments. It would help you organize your operations and protect you from losing money.
In addition, experts recommend that you open a separate banking account for your freelance work. Doing so would allow you to better track the money that comes in and out.
Working in the gig sector has several perks, but it is not for everyone. It’s still work at the end of the day and, in exchange for money, you have to produce a satisfactory output for your clients who hire your services. You still have a responsibility to fulfill your roles regardless of whether it is permanent or temporary.