20 May, 2021
Among the many impacts of Covid-19 has been a heightened global awareness of the gig economy. For many of us stuck at home, this is due in part to a growing taste for takeaway and the increased visibility of those who deliver it. But it has also been driven by public discussion of the severe health and economic consequences of the pandemic for gig workers.
Covid-19 impacts notwithstanding, the difficulties faced by those who work in the gig economy are not new. These range from the oft-discussed financial insecurity and lack of agency to the less-explored ethical considerations of algorithmic management and unsavoury work. And while there are many for whom the gig economy works well, providing a flexible way to earn fast cash, achieving good gigs for all remains a challenge.
A growing number of platforms are hoping to meet this challenge head-on. Among these are alternative worker-led gig platforms, which are owned and operated under a cooperative model that offers workers more control over work and wellbeing.
So-called “WorkerTech” is also on the rise, referring to digital platforms and services that provide independent workers with the kinds of benefits and support they might find in a traditional workplace, including financial planning, HR advice and even time off.
With legal systems around the world (including the UK) recognising the responsibilities of corporate gig platforms towards the people who do the work and make the money for them, the experiences and benefits that these disruptive platforms provide may well become the norm.
As the gig economy continues to grow, the need for it to do so in a way that works for its workers is the real takeaway.
By Louise Podmore