The wide-ranging economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will hit those who don’t have permanent contracts the hardest.
Work from home: Lakshya Vij clears out his desk at a co-working space in Gurugram
Vij’s team of 14 were WeWork regulars. (WeWork is an American commercial real estate company that provides shared workspaces for tech and other start-ups.) For nascent start-ups and freelancers, co-working spaces used to be cheap and convenient to conduct their business. I held all my business meetings and team brainstorming sessions at WeWork, Gurugram, which is nearly empty these days (after the COVID scare), says Vij, who launched his company over a year ago. This has impacted us hugely. A task which earlier took five minutes to do, now takes 30 since we have to connect. Also, being a visual firm, one needs to be physically present at times during ideating and executing. Vij is now working from home. I have just started out, I have no choice, he says.
Co-working spaces like WeWork connect individuals through work desks, onsite game rooms, art sessions and more. What used to be a space for professional networking, has turned into a zone where no one is sure if the next person is safe or not. I never noticed the person next to me earlier, but now I don’t want to sit next to a stranger, says Neelam Mitra, a 31-year-old freelance graphic artist from Mumbai.
Flexi job prospects depend on the business outlook of other industries. The deep and wide-ranging economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak across industries, from films to sports to aviation to delivery services and beyond will hit those who are not on permanent contract the hardest.
The gig economy of freelance and temporary workers, including musicians, artists, writers, designers, comedians etc., will be affected. I had two gigs lined up, one at a restaurant, another at a wedding, both have been cancelled. I have enough savings for two months of rent; after that I’ll be homeless and jobless, says Girish Sarkar, a 25-year-old freelance guitarist from Gurugram.