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The jig of the gig economy

In conversation with Armand Poonawala, CEO & Co-founder, Atlancer.com

As the hybrid mode of working becomes mainstream, how do you envision the future of the gig economy?

The way companies work is changing faster than ever and in one direction- decentralisation. We’ve seen how small tasks that are hard to get wrong are already smoothly transitioned to the gig economy. For example, food delivery, transport or even getting a graphic created. Since these tasks are basic, they’re appropriately called “gigs”. We’re currently at that stage where freelancing is at the gig economy-level but it will move to the next stage.

The challenge with the gig economy has been this- Does it help companies truly decentralise how they work? The answer’s no. When there’s a task that’s even slightly more complex than getting a graphic created, companies still rightly choose to get a job like this done either in house or by another centralised company/agency. The means to have a job like this done using freelancers isn’t in place.

Let’s imagine two ends of the spectrum and add a scale to it too that represents how much they are decentralised- on one end is a completely centralised organization with all in house employees which we’ll give a 0/10. On the other end is a completely decentralised organization with only independent/freelance workers including the CEO which we’ll give a 10/10.

On this scale, I think on average, companies are currently at a 2/10 where only the most basic tasks are outsourced- the gig economy. We won’t jump straight to a completely decentralised organization and it’ll happen gradually.

In the next 5 years or so we’ll go from a 2/10 to a 5/10 where even complex tasks are being successfully executed by freelance teams that specialise in that niche- For example, executing an entire marketing campaign or technology product. In 5-10 years, entire core departments will be outsourced to gig workers such as the entire technology department which is let’s say an 8/10. In 10 years, I think through blockchain, entire companies will begin to be decentralised, owned and governed by customers and creators which is a 10/10.

What are the key requisites of making the freelance arrangement work?

A healthy and positive collaboration ecosystem is key to any successful operation. At a human-emotion level, of course, being positive and kind with those that are being managed is going to lead to a positive outcome.

Though right now, when it comes to working with freelancers for complex jobs, companies need the infrastructure to successfully outsource work to them such that there are specialists on it that are aligned with the objectives, are quality managed and most importantly- get what’s needed done. So there is a need for a company to create this infrastructure as I see it.

At Atlancer how do you source the right talent for each project, and also ensure the satisfaction of both parties?

We want to take freelance work to the next stage. Our mission is to assist businesses to reach the 5/10 score as opposed to a 2/10 (going back to scale I mentioned earlier) in terms of decentralization. We’ve recognised that simple gig-level work isn’t enough and companies can really benefit from using freelancers for larger and complex tasks as long as the right infrastructure and means are provided.

Curating the best talent is the key for our platform as we consider any work done through our platform our direct responsibility. We’ve curated a pool of the top freelancers from pan India and currently have 200 people working through our platform. We’ve gotten over 10,000 applications which makes our acceptance rate about 2%. First, the applicants have to first pass our auto-scoring objective quiz to qualify. If the scores are high enough, a subjective application is taken, and we interview or get to know the freelancer on a deeper level to ensure alignment.

Once these rounds are passed, they join atlancer.com as Atlancers. Each Atlancer is assigned a quality check manager. They then create packages on our platform in collaboration with other Atlancers through our infrastructure. For example, most social media content creators have packages listed with in-built collaborations with photographers, designers or ad managers. The biggest advantage of working with freelancers is that they specialise in a niche and for every niche requirement a company has, they can get a unique freelancer. This is why it’s important that freelancers are not generalists but specialists.

Our collaboration infrastructure allows for Atlancers to specialise in their niche, and work with other freelancers that specialise in complimentary niches, and offer businesses a way to buy a package that contains a team of specialists for a given requirement which can be fairly complex. The work done is then quality checked by the manager assigned and the company at the end of the day gets a quality assured outcome.

We also use performance-based payment, provide training and resources to the Atlancers in order to optimise the quality of each job. Every job gives us data on what’s working and what isn’t through a tagging system which enables us to learn what’s needed and distribute the learnings through training modules. After working with 150 businesses from New York to Mumbai on social media projects, we’ve created a course on social media marketing containing all our learnings which is even open to the public such that anyone can take it and apply to work as social media content creators through our platform with a higher chance at curation.

We ensure that each client is satisfied by putting in place a strict quality check system. In the case that an Atlancer makes an error, misses a deadline, or needs extra assistance, the Quality Check Manager steps in to help them or assigns another Atlancer to help out if needed. This system also ensures that every deliverable the client is receiving has been thoroughly checked beforehand.

About Armand Poonawala

Armand Poonawala is the Co-founder and CEO of Atlancer.com, a freelance platform that takes responsibility and intends to be the future of reliable freelance work that includes complex tasks. Having graduated with a degree in Computer Science from New York University, Armand built most of the platform himself. He is also a co-founder of the recently launched cryptocurrency and upcoming NFT platform, BollyCoin. Here, he heads the development of the tech marketplace. 


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