Who knows if your current job will get “uberized” tomorrow?

by Philippe Riboton, Managing Partner at HR Partners International Executive Search

There was a time when having a job meant staying in an office from 9 AM to 5 PM from Monday to Friday. There was a time when working meant you were getting a fixed monthly salary and paid holidays. There was a time when working for a company meant security against unemployment. All of a sudden the digital revolution brought the concept of the “collaborative economy” also called the “gig economy”. And this has completely changed what we all mean today by having a job or simply “working”.

With the accession of online market places such as Uber, Upwork or Airbnb, platforms are progressively revolutionizing the way individuals work, making people take temporary positions, becoming part-time workers or self-employed on short-term basis, opening the way to what is commonly called “the uberization of work”. In the UK the number of self-employed people is now close to 5 million and almost equals the number of people employed in the public sector. In the US more than one in three workers (or almost 54 million people) are now either freelance, interim or teleworking, in quite many cases for the sake of independence. In those countries the uberization of work is already real.

But how about Central Europe? Has the uberization of work already hit this region? Business leaders say the current labor shortage prevailing in this part of Europe seems to stand in the way. Michal Smida, founder and CEO at Twisto instant credit provider confirms: “We are not seeing this trend in the Central and Eastern European region yet”, he says, “especially in startups where people are the key asset, building proprietary technology. Going forward, this could solve the issue of qualified workforce shortage, as the labor market is fairly illiquid and saturated with job offers, which makes it much harder to attract top talent for full-time employment.” Ondrej Kratky, co-founder and CEO of Liftago urban mobility platform, says price is at the core of the issue: “The main mass market proposition of the digital economy is to lower prices of the services which are provided. In order to grow faster, platforms are pushing prices down, thus requiring more labor to satisfy the demand. Therefore the shortage of labor occurs only temporarily, as long as the prices are set below sustainable level.”

So it may seem that the “uberization of work” has not really hit the Central European region yet. But wait for the next economic downturn – which most economists already see on the horizon – and you can be fairly sure that uberization will enter Central Europe at full speed. Who knows if your current job will get “uberized” soon?