April 21, 2019 | 05:14 PM

Your Money

25.06.2018How technology has opened up new income streams


When it comes to personal finance, people have long since found ways to supplement their income. In the past, the main way for a worker to earn some much-needed extra cash was to work overtime. But that’s now less possible than it was before – for two reasons.

Firstly, many jobs are now salaried, so overtime is, in essence, unpaid: given that wages aren’t paid hourly for most people, extra work is seen simply as part of the job.

Secondly the Internet – and the technologies which power it – is now the main provider of extra work. From dropping off takeaways on a bicycle to setting up a side business online, Australians are finding many innovative ways to net themselves some extra cash – and it’s having a profound impact on the way the economy, and wider society now operates.

Driving in the gig economy

The main manifestation of the “gig economy” in Australia’s cities lies in the seemingly sudden proliferation of food and takeaway delivery drivers. Many of these couriers operate on a freelance basis. Whether it’s Deliveroo, Uber Eats or another brand altogether, there are lots of new companies which link up restaurants and couriers to deliver food to homes and workplaces – and it’s certainly an appealing way for people to earn some extra cash. Similarly, firms like Uber link up minicab drivers with passengers and help get them from A to B.

Many drivers in these roles actually have another occupation: whether they are students or workers looking for some extra money, they often don’t work full time on their driving. But while it may on the surface seem like a win-win-win situation for the innovating company, the overtime-seeking driver and the hungry customer, there are some problems on the horizon with this model of work.

Although the gig economy has spawned plenty of companies like this operating in a whole host of different niches and markets, the drivers are the most visible – and as a result, they’re often the ones who raise the complaints. From issues around wasted and unpaid time when work is scarce to question marks over the provision of basic employment rights like minimum pay and sick leave, this is an industry that the Australian government, society and companies will need to focus on in the coming years.

Working online

While Deliveroo and similar sites may be powered by the internet, the actual work isn’t carried out online. Instead, it takes place in real life on the streets of major cities like Melbourne and Sydney. Online working is a little different: this refers to tasks that are completed digitally, primarily through the use of an internet service, and tend to be computer-based in nature.

From copywriting to translation and everything in between, there are lots of ways that people with marketable skills can monetise to create a handsome second income stream. General websites like Fiverr – plus other industry-specific ones, too – connect those who need these services to providers of said services, and then the middleman site takes a cut.

The advantages of these kinds of sites are that they offer scalable work, and that workers can generally take on as much or as little as they please. Provided that the worker is linked to enough work providers, there’s almost always enough work available for the overtime hours that they wish to fill – something that Australia’s many Deliveroo drivers may wish their line of work reliably provided.

Work has changed in recent years – and, mostly, it’s been for the better. While overtime may not be as prevalent today , there’s no doubting that the era of additional flexible work is now here. From delivering takeaways for hungry local residents to using a skill to open up extra income online, there are plenty of ways that savvy hard workers can find ways to earn extra cash.

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