Gig Economy workers prove essential during MCO

Considering the restricted mobility we face now, the presence of a thriving gig economy in Malaysia has helped ease the difficulties of the Movement Control Order (MCO). During the MCO, almost anything we require - food, groceries or even services such as home repairs can be ordered through the tap of a button.

Typically, the gig economy refers to a labour market dominated by short-term contracts freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs. It is therefore common that workers in the gig economy are prevalent in companies such as Foodpanda, Lazada, Grab and other online services by major retailers and supermarkets were an “option”.

Jobs and careers within this section of the economy were perhaps seen for those who needed extra income, or “only for those who wanted flexible working hours”.

However, these services have emerged highly essential in a time where the mobility of Malaysians are restricted.

With the MCO extended, the ability to provide on-demand, customised services has led to gig economy players being deemed as essential services during the MCO, allowing them to operate as usual with minimal restrictions.

Their ability to provide a wide range of services through the utilisation of the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics (BDA) and cloud-technology allows people to stay within their homes, enhancing the effectiveness of the MCO.

Let’s look at some of the essential services they provide:

1. Delivery services

With the advent of a plethora of delivery companies, gone are the needs to get out of the house to purchase essential items, ultimately eliminating the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Even services such as plumbing, electrical works, and home repairs can be acquired.

Pick-up services are also offered, allowing consumers to obtain any misplaced/forgotten important items (subject to size and weight) such as medical documents and authorisation letters, which are extremely important possessions during this period.

Pos Malaysia Berhad (Poslaju) and J&T Express, are some examples of companies that are still operating during the MCO to deliver purchased items to customers. Grab, on the other hand, offers pick-up services through its “Delivery” feature.

2. E-hailing and ride-sharing

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While this may be the least required, given the increasing restrictions of movement during the MCO, E-hailing is highly relevant among essential service workers looking to perform their duties on-site, and require travel without the need of owning a car. Companies such as Grab offer e-hailing services and are especially useful in current circumstances. If you’re feeling sick and do not have the energy to drive, just “book a Grab” and a Grab Driver will take you to the hospital of your choice.

If you’re more comfortable driving alone but do not own a vehicle, SOCAR has got you covered. SOCAR is a ride sharing platform that allow customers to “rent” a vehicle by the hour. They can pick up and once they’re done, park the borrowed vehicle at specific locations determined by SOCAR. For people who do not own a vehicle, this business strategy enables easier access to travel at a personal convenience when there’s an emergency.

3. Online shopping platforms

Facing a sudden shortage of essential items at home? Do not worry!

The availability of online shopping platforms allows you to purchase items from the comfort of your own home. Those living in areas which are not accessible to shops can benefit from this service, especially in the current global situation.

Various online shopping platforms are available in Malaysia such as Lazada and Shopee and are still operational during the MCO. Discounts and promotions (such as free shipping fees) are regularly offered to customers as an initiative to encourage shopping from home. Essentials such as groceries and toiletries can also be bought through these platforms (Shopee Mart/Grocery Store – Lazada).

All gig economy players are required to ensure that their workers go through extensive safety precautions and measures some of which include frequent sanitisation of equipment, social distancing and limiting purchasing methods to cashless transactions only, all of which are initiatives to minimise human contact to curb the spreading of COVID-19.

As such, MARii would like to thank all parties involved in the fight against the pandemic for their continued dedication and service.

*Featured image sourced from

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