The gig economy

In years past, a company had to rent office space, hire employees and purchase motorbikes. with the advent of all these new technologies, none of that is necessary anymore.'

By ILANA STUTLAND
May 8, 2019 09:20
The gig economy

TO SUPPLEMENT his income, Gal Beckman works as a messenger for Wolt, a Finland-based online food ordering and delivery service that recently began operating in central Tel Aviv.. (photo credit: PR)

‘Not many people in Israel are aware that they can supplement their income by using collaborative consumption platforms. They think they’re probably too hard to learn how to use, or that they involve lots of bureaucracy. But in fact they’re really easy to use,” says Gal Beckman, 26, who works in computer systems in Tel Aviv.

To supplement his income, Beckman also works as a messenger for Wolt, a Finland-based online food ordering and delivery service that recently began operating in central Tel Aviv. The Wolt app offers a user-friendly platform to have food delivered from restaurants that don’t offer delivery services.

Beckman began working with the app a few months ago, and he successfully carries out deliveries twice a week when he’s not working at his main job or studying for his nursing degree. On average, he brings in an extra NIS 600–1,000 a month from his Wolt deliveries.

In recent years, a large number of collaborative consumption platforms that offer products or services have become more popular through the Internet. “Known as the Gig Economy, these types of jobs are going viral. Take for example, Airbnb, Uber and hundreds of other tourism platforms,” explains Dr. Zafrir Bloch-David, who teaches at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo and the College of Management and is a co-founder of the WEconomize Forum.

“There are lots of people who are making good money from these jobs,” continues Bloch-David. “Lots of people who lose their jobs turn to these platforms as immediate solutions to pay the rent, especially in places where this field is much more developed, such as in California. It’s a new and evolving world that challenges our basic assumptions of how goods and services are provided. These platforms are being shared on social media and are becoming more popular as the middle class slowly erodes and people are searching for ways to make a living. The 2008 global crisis was a big catalyst for these changes.”

According to Bloch-David, not many people rely on these apps for 100% of their income, but rather use them as supplemental income. “According to a study carried out three years ago, it was estimated that by 2025 the collaborative consumption market would grow to $350 billion. Nowadays, some people are estimating that the tourism industry alone will reach $1 trillion by then. That’s absolutely tremendous.”

Are many Israelis aware of the possibility of making money this way?
“Many organizations and local authorities are beginning to realize that this can be an extremely useful tool,” continues Bloch-David. “For example, a mayor of a city might see that there’s a better way of utilizing the municipality’s resources and that the city can increase tourism by joining the Gig Economy. All of a sudden, hosting visitors in people’s homes can become a tourist attraction. There are hundreds of platforms offering hosting or delivery services and plenty of people are taking advantage of them, too. In years past, a company had to rent office space, hire employees and purchase motorbikes. With the advent of all these new technologies, none of that is necessary anymore.”

How do organizations regulate quality?

“Customers fill out quality assurance surveys, and if a service provider receives bad reviews, they can be kicked off the platform, since the platforms wish to retain high ratings. Of course, if you don’t follow the rules, you’ll immediately be blocked.”
The most prominent areas of collaborative consumption are deliveries (in central Israel), tourism and various services that can be carried out anywhere on the globe, such as Fiverr. “Awareness in Israel that this type of work is available is growing,” continues Bloch-David. “If a person is willing to think outside the box, there are so many options for making money. Of course, it also depends on the type of person you are and where you live.”

How do you think the Gig Economy will change the conventional business model?
“It’s already changing. And it’s not necessarily due to collaborative consumption, but just to the fact that companies are tending to hire fewer employees, and instead rely on freelancers as needed. Technological advances obviously make this process much easier. In years past, it was much harder to find new employees. For example, if I need a programmer, I can find one in India. One of the key questions is, however, how to offer these freelancers social benefits. And how should this type of work be regulated. Should there be worker committees?”

“Since I’m a fourth-year nursing student, I don’t have time to commit to a full-time job,” says Beckman. “I completed a training course at the Wolt office and I just do deliveries whenever I have spare time.”

TO SUPPLEMENT his income, Gal Beckman works as a messenger for Wolt, a Finland-based online food ordering and delivery service that recently began operating in central Tel Aviv. (Credit: PR)

What are the benefits of working in this type of work?

“I used to work as an instructor at a climbing wall gym. They were constantly sending me messages, ‘Can you work today?’ and then I would have to come up with reasons why I couldn’t come in. They didn’t like it when I said I had to study and were always trying to get me to commit to more weekend shifts. With Wolt, I can work when it’s convenient for me. Some people work nearly full-time and make upwards of NIS 10,000.”

“I think lots of Israelis would love to work in the collaborative consumption world, but are worried that they won’t like it,” says Yuval Ozeri, 53, from Ramat Gan. Ozeri works mainly as a financial adviser in the private car leasing industry, and on the side, he also works through the Home Hero platform as a real-estate agent.

This app enables brokers to sell flats in their neighborhood more efficiently and thereby increase their income. Home Hero, which is based on artificial intelligence, offers 3D virtual tours of properties. It’s also developed advanced pricing and ranking capabilities that help streamline the decision-making process for sellers as well as buyers.

“I began working on this app in May 2018,” continues Ozeri. “I got a real-estate license – you need one before you can sell anything. I had a lot of spare time and I’d been looking for something that would maximize my skills and talents and enable me to make some money – lots of money if possible. The more effort and time you invest, the more money you make.”

YUVAL OZERI of Ramat Gan uses the Home Hero platform for his side hustle as a real-estate agent. (Credit: PR)

How much time do you invest in Home Hero?
“A few hours each afternoon. The platform saves you a ton of time, since it takes care of advertising and finding potential buyers. In addition, buyers and sellers can also set up appointments through the app. It carries out all of these actions that normally an agent would spend a lot time taking care of. The app also advertises the flat in all the relevant digital media.

“I don’t even need to rent an office. If someone has the appropriate interpersonal and time management skills, you can make decent money. People need to find what they’re good at. There are so many different ways to utilize collaborative consumption platforms to help you supplement your income in your spare time.”

“I have kids, so I really need the supplemental income,” says Danny (not his real name), from Petah Tikva. “I work in my extra job whenever I have time, which is super convenient.” Two days a week, Danny works as a manager in a pizzeria, and five days a week he works in deliveries for GetPackage, which operates throughout Israel. The fact that GetPackage is available everywhere is a benefit for both senders and receivers – anyone can send a package, even if you’re not near a big city, and people can work in delivery service without having to travel far for work.

Danny makes about NIS 1,000 a week from deliveries on top of his regular salary from the pizzeria. “One of the best things about working for GetPackage is that I don’t need to commit to specific hours,” Danny explains. “I log into the app whenever I have time, and only pick the deliveries that are convenient for me.”

How much do these extra hours help with your family’s finances?
“That depends how many hours I work. The more you stay logged on, the more money you make. I know people who stay on all day and make a ton of money. It’s a great way to work without having an annoying boss breathing down your neck all the time. If you want, you can even work on a couple different apps simultaneously.

“Of course, your work needs to remain within the standards of the company. But as long as you do that, it’s kind of like you’re your own boss, which is amazing.”

Translated by Hannah Hochner.


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