Freelancing or the “gig economy” is not a new concept to the employment market. Contractual jobs have always been around, just as farmers hire workers during harvest seasons or musicians catch a gig a couple nights a week. The Department of Statistics Malaysia reports that as of the second quarter of 2021, the self-employed now make up the second largest group comprising 17% of the Malaysian workforce which consists of 15.21 million working adults.
A research paper by Mastercard, ‘Fueling the global gig economy’ confirms the growing shift with a projected $298 billion in global gig economy wage disbursements generated by 2023, an increase of 122% from 2018.
The now charmless 9 to 5 has been replaced with minimal supervision and the splendour of choosing one’s work schedule. Traditionally, we used to believe that full-time staff ensured productivity and structure.
Digitalisation breaches the untraditional, and opens doors for digital workers and freelancers to SMEs to scale their business. We spoke to our Career Partners on how digitalisation has impacted their SME; which includes APE Malaysia, Graze Market, Women of Will and Life Origin.
Mark Louise Benedict, project manager of APE Malaysia said digital transformation ensures a business stays relevant by effectively meeting emerging customer demands. In fact, Clara Wan, the founder of Graze Market said “It is hard to make brands like us known if we remain offline.” Moreover, Lakshwin Muruga, Chief Operating Officer of Women of Will said that digitalisation has increased their reach. Meaning who they work. It has given them access to skilled services through digital workers and freelancers.
CJ Sio from Life Origin was once a freelancer himself before co-founding Life Origin. He believes freelancers are essential to any startup, that there are always “perfect fit” freelancers out there to match a SMEs scaling needs. Something he believes the Me.reka Digital Entrepreneur programme does very well, in matching freelancers to SMEs according to their skillset and the SMEs needs.
Me.reka connected two freelancers with our Career Partners based on their skills and capabilities. CJ Sio, from Life Origin found the “perfect fit” with his two freelancers who were well versed in digital marketing. They even exceeded his expectations by understanding every component of his business very quickly.
The interns at Women of Will played a huge role in getting the organisation “out of their comfort zone” and realising opportunities with the available resources to maximise their e-store’s potential. Benefiting them very much as they “lack the resources to employ individuals with these skill sets on a long term basis.”
Moreover, the interns at APE Malaysia assisted the company in their digital transformation process; which is another example of the benefit of hiring freelancers as SMEs won't always need these employees and skillset. Mark discussed the new perspectives they bring in improving their company’s setup; as well as having a “better outlook” in targeting market groups when promoting the brand on social media. Similarly, Clara reported seeing a “better structure” and improved brand identity.
The demand for freelancers is constantly growing, especially in this employment climate. It is key that businesses have access to digital talent and freelancers, as well as being “able to engage them in a manner that is good and safe” for both parties as said by Lakshwin.
The Me.reka Career Partner programme helps SMEs grow their business in the rapidly evolving digital world by transforming businesses digitally and gaining access to a diverse group of gig professionals, ready to take on the projects to help the SMEs grow and tackle the challenges of the 21st-century digital economy. Scale your business and learn more at https://www.mereka.my/digital-entrepreneur/career-partners