The recent ramping up of the 'gig economy' will become the new norm

After the recent launch of new startup aceplace (a technology platform and mobile app that connects businesses with unused spaces with people seeking a venue to meet, innovate, or celebrate), their COO and Co-Founder Chris Cooper, shares why he believes the 'gig economy' will become the new norm in society and businesses in the UAE need to be ready to adapt. 

One of the impacts of COVID-19 is the ramping up of the ‘gig economy’ where more people go freelance or take on short term contracts and remote and flexible working becomes the norm. 

Most industries have been facing significant operational challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic – not least, the need for social distancing has meant that traditional companies that once had large offices full of employees have been forced to work and collaborate with clients and partners remotely. While many are hoping this will be a short term blip, SMEs and businesses need to prepare themselves for this to be a long term or more likely permanent change.

The concept of the ‘gig’ or sharing economy – defined as a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments, is not new and it is being embraced by governments and industries around the world. 

In the Middle East, we have seen several governments accepting and implementing strategies to support the gig and sharing economy and many individuals and companies embracing a more fluid way of working. Some industries have adopted this economic model of sharing access to goods and services faster than others, but others are lagging behind and it is only the advent of COVID-19 that has forced them to dip their toes in.

What we have all learned is that not only can it be done, but that there are benefits of this way of working and the inevitable consequence of this is that employees are likely to resist going back to the office, store, and workplace permanently, even when restrictions are lifted. Many will want the flexibility to work wherever and whenever they want. The days of companies taking large office spaces over a long-term contract are over.

For the hospitality and entertainment industry, there will be big changes. People will seek more personalised options when celebrating instead of going to a crowded environment alongside people they do not know. Fitness classes will be run by personal trainers who are not affiliated with just one gym. And employees will want to work from wherever suits them because they know that it can and does work.

Therefore, change is inevitable. Businesses that have previously relied on employees being physically present should be looking at how they can leverage technology and offer more flexible working arrangements and businesses that once relied on foot traffic may need to think about innovative ways to monetize their assets.

The future is going to be a very different place to do business and those that adapt now will be the ones that succeed going forward.

An encouraging 33 startup deals took place in May 2020, which was an increase of 93% compared to April. This was largely driven by the Misk500 MENA Accelerator, which graduated its third batch of startups. Discover more details in our May 2020 Dashboard Report.