How tech can support a fairer future for work for everyone

New research by Doteveryone explains why we need to reform the gig economy and offers advice on what the best practice, responsible tech approach to gig work might look like.

New research by Doteveryone explains why we need to reform the gig economy and offers advice on what the best practice, responsible tech approach to gig work might look like.
Responsible technology think tank Doteveryone is calling on the UK government to develop and enforce a Minimum Gig Wage that accounts for the costs of doing gig work and for platforms to give workers the data they need to plan for their financial futures.In its new report, Better Work in the Gig Economy Doteveryone collaborated with gig workers to formulate ideas about how to create better work in the gig economy and meet the needs of those who are most disadvantaged by this type of work.Jacob Ohrvik-Stott, senior researcher at Doteveryone says, “We wanted to give a platform to these people who depend on the gig economy to live – the workers who get most of the downsides of the gig economy, with few of the benefits.”Factors affecting gig workers include financial instability, low pay, unpaid hours waiting for gigs, and problems with apps and algorithms.

Recommendations for fairer gig working

Over seven months, Doteveryone shadowed Uber drivers in Stoke-on-Trent, interviewed micro-taskers, cycle couriers, handymen and cleaners, and travelled to Copenhagen for the 2019 TechFestival to champion workers’ ideas for change. From this research, it has proposed long-term policy change and has prototyped best practice for platforms to implement these changes immediately.
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As well as listening to workers’ experiences, Doteveryone used their input to create an imagined platform – AvocaGo that caters to the customer’s every avocado need – which prototypes what the best practice, responsible technology approach to gig work might look like.Mr Ohrvik-Stott adds, “The recommendations meet the needs of those most disadvantaged, and in doing so, they serve everyone.”The report champions three pillars of better work:
  • Financial security – the Government should create a minimum gig wage that accounts for the unavoidable costs of being a platform worker. Platforms should provide greater data transparency to help workers navigate their finances and show customers where their money goes. 
  • Dignity – companies should create governance structures that give workers a greater voice in the design of platforms they work for. Platforms should also provide access to human interaction to solve workers’ questions or help them seek redress.
  • Dreams – the Government’s National Retraining Scheme [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-retraining-scheme/national-retraining-scheme], set up to address the expected impacts of automation on the economy, should be adapted to provide the holistic support that gig workers need now. And Help Hotspots would provide a broad range of drop-in support for people in locations and times that fit into gig workers’ daily lives. 

Read more about the government’s National Retraining Scheme 


Serving the interests of everyone in society

Martha Lane Fox, executive chair & founder of Doteveryone, says, “We have seen many gains as a society and as consumers from the fantastic pace of technological change and the flexible and independent nature of work today. But, as this research shows, there are many perils. We underestimate them at our very grave risk.“The gig economy can be fantastically empowering if you can work on the terms you wish for. But it can also be destabilising, dehumanising and dispiriting if you don’t. The convenience of a taxi ride or a takeaway must not be traded for the rights of people to work with financial security and dignity and to fulfil their dreams for the future.“The recommendations in this report are designed for the furthest first. If we meet the needs of those made most vulnerable by the impacts of new technologies, we will serve the interests of everyone in society.”

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