Online Freelancing: Challenges, Opportunities and Impact in India

Business process outsourcing (BPO) services, which started around the mid-1990s in India, have seen phenomenal growth in the last two decades. As the industry grew, business models evolved to embrace socially responsible and inclusive methods while moving beyond traditional urban areas. BPO companies set up operations in rural areas to benefit from lower wages and lower attrition rates. The next level of outsourcing is the rapidly growing market for online freelancers. This study examines the entire spectrum of BPO activities that begin from ‘commoditised’ micro tasks to high-end, projectbased outsourcing. Primary data collected from an online survey and focus group discussions with individual micro workers/online freelancers will help address key research questions related to the embedded business opportunity and type of work (commoditised services or high value services), awareness and willingness to engage in micro work/online freelancing, price arbitrage, etc. Findings on the potential and challenges faced by the industry will be benchmarked with the experience of other countries such as Sri Lanka. Recommendations based on this analysis will contribute to policy making for labour markets in India.