Better Work in the Gig Economy: Enabling Gig Workers to Live With Financial Security, Dignity and Dreams
The future of work is happening now and not on some far-off horizon. One in ten Brits takes a job via a digital platform at least once a week. And the services they provide – the almost instantaneous taxi rides, cleaning, manicures or babysitting – are now taken for granted by consumers.
The data-driven innovation that matches customers’ wishes to workers’ capabilities has opened new opportunities for those who already had them. For those with existing skills and financial means, gig work offers flexibility and freedom.
But for those who don’t, the app has become a trap. They have no option but to work gigs, and no way out once they’ve begun.
In this research we listened to those who are in the trap. They told us how gig work strips them of financial security, dignity and any dreams for the future.
We heard from them how gig work is ‘like quicksand’ – low pay becomes unlivable pay after costs are accounted for – and the promise of flexibility is an illusion when, in reality, workers must be available 24/7 and scrabble for every gig available.
We heard how workers wished they’d be treated ‘like people not robots’ and how management by algorithm strips people of their dignity.
And we heard how people ‘don’t know what comes next’ as the always-on, piecemeal work they do makes it impossible to think or plan for a different future.
The gig economy does not have to be this way. Doteveryone fights for better tech for everyone. We’re working to change how tech is made and used so it supports a fair, inclusive and sustainable democratic society.
Collaborating with gig workers we formulated ideas about how to create better work in the gig economy for those that digital disruption has left on the fringes. We propose policy change for the long term and have prototyped best practice for platforms to implement immediately. The recommendations meet the needs of those most disadvantaged, and in doing so they serve everyone.
We ask now that policymakers and platforms take the opportunity, as we have done, to listen to the people on the other side of the app – and to act.