One of the homework this week for the Labor in a Mobile-First World class was to write a response to this article on World Economic Forum Site.
The article discusses whether on-demand economy will raise global living standards and provides two possible scenarios for our consideration:
On-demand economy will empower microentrepreneurs, individuals to take control of their own destinies on an unprecedented scale, working fewer hours with more flexible schedules, striking a better work-life balance, earning money doing work they enjoy while creating an array of innovative new products and services.
The second scenario suggests that it will become a:
dystopian world of disenfranchised workers, a race to the bottom in which work will be defined by low wages, high levels of job insecurity and the elimination of income stability, labour benefits and an adequate social safety net.
After reading the entire article few thoughts come to my mind. To begin with, I remember once talking to my friend, who’s also graduated from Business studies with me in Lithuania, about how the concept of work and what people want to work changed just over the past couple of years.
When we were graduating 5 years ago, people (especially those graduating from Economics) would want to work at the big consultancy firms, so they would end up at PWC, KPMG, Deloitte and E&Y. It was also cool to work at the big advertising agencies (that’s what I did). Working at such companies would secure you with a full-time job, knowing that you’re going to be paid every month and have health insurance benefits (unless you’re working at the ad agency).
Few years later the hipster subculture would introduce the “cult” to do what you love no matter if you’re getting paid or not. And now we hear about yuccies, which in work terms can be also associated with doing what you love and getting paid a lot, and it’s not working in a big corporation. We of course talked about all of this taking our personal examples and perspectives into account, and it all made sense.
The second thought that crossed my mind was how much the on-demand labor platforms would push away the standard way of working. I see why it’s becoming so popular and why people would offer their services there, especially when we’re talking about the global economy and very rarely business you do is local. As a freelancer I would see on-demand work platforms as a good kickstarter for my business in terms of new clients and spreading the word about work I do. But for me personally it’s a battle between “the task people need you to do” and “the service I’m offering.”
What I mean is: let’s say a housekeeper registers on one of such platforms: no matter how good he or she is, client doesn’t really care because they only need a result: a cleaned house. It may be different for a higher-skilled professions where the process is important, too, but even if I’d register my event production services, I would feel that the “online” part would distance me from the client and would let to completely show how much of the professional I am.
I guess what I’m trying to say that even though such platforms could offer a great opportunity to expand your new client base, if you’re high-skilled freelancer or any professional who wants to have unique image and to maintain relationships with clients (and that the way you do things, the process is really important in your work), such platforms could be only a small percent of the work you do.