The Architecture of Digital Labour Platforms: Policy Recommendations on Platform Design for Worker Well-Being
Digital labour platforms connect workers with consumers of this work and provide the infrastructure and the governance conditions for the exchange of work and its compensation. Yet the architecture, or business model design, of digital labour platforms has important consequences for workers, affecting whether they are empowered or exploited on the platform. This paper explores the business model design choices of digital labour platforms and which attributes – particularly the centralization of power, policies to retain consumers and workers and monitoring and reward systems – contribute to worker well-being. It puts forth policy recommendations for improving working conditions on digital labour platforms, addressing concerns such as the asymmetry of information, data access and usage rights, which can improve the fairness and conditions of platform work.
This paper seeks to identify the business model design (Zott and Amit, 2010) and policy choices that render labour platforms liable to empower their workers, or, conversely, to exploit them. It posits that certain choices implemented by labour platforms to create a successful business model may inadvertently lead to adverse working conditions and worker exploitation. It also describes how other factors, particularly the centralization of power and rewards in the hands of the platform’s owner, can contribute to undesirable terms and conditions of work for platform workers.