Measuring the new world of online work – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

Labour marketplaces are shifting significantly, with hundreds of thousands now getting and carrying out perform online. On the other hand, as formal statistics only seize standard labour marketplaces, an EU-funded challenge has been tracking the growing entire world of online perform.


© ST.artwork, #337053566, 2020

Above the past decade, growing numbers of people have been getting work and carrying out perform through online ‘gig’ platforms. These sites offer the platform for tasks requested by firms, these types of as producing, translation, facts science and advertising and marketing, which can then be carried out remotely by employees dwelling any place in the entire world.

But even as this new variety of perform disrupts standard labour marketplaces, formal work statistics keep on to emphasis on far more traditional labour marketplaces. This has resulted in policymakers and researchers lacking important info as to how the online labour industry operates and the ailments beneath which its employees are performing.

In reaction, the EU’s iLABOUR challenge, funded by the European Study Council, has developed the On-line Labour Index, the to start with global financial indicator dedicated to tracking the online gig financial system. The index actions the provide and desire for online freelance labour by tracking the number of assignments and tasks dispersed across unique nations around the world and occupations in serious time.

‘We are striving to offer policymakers with this facts to give them an thought of how large this full new online industry actually is,’ claims principal investigator Vili Lehdonvirta of Oxford University in the British isles. ‘The thought driving the On-line Labour Index is to function as the online labour equal to the Organisation for Financial Co-procedure and Progress index or the Global Labour Organization’s statistics, which are mainly resources for policymakers and researchers to refer to and to see how specified phenomena are shaping the entire world of perform.’

The index is critical, provides Lehdonvirta, because it will assist respond to socially appropriate issues these types of as: Is this industry however growing? How quite a few people are performing for these platforms? How a great deal are they currently being compensated? ‘Empirical facts could also assist researchers and policymakers who are investigating gig workers’ labour legal rights,’ he claims.

Fuelling educational study

The challenge staff established the index – which quickly updates day-to-day – by tracking assignments posted on the five most significant English-language online labour platforms, together with Upwork, PeoplePerHour and Amazon Mechanical Turk.

‘With a handful of platforms, you are by now covering a very large share of the market’s global activity,’ claims Fabian Stephany, economist and facts scientist at the University of Oxford, who is in cost of creating the Index. ‘But we’re at this time extending the On-line Labour Index to include things like lesser platforms that have a specific emphasis on, for case in point, the Philippines, or on Russian-speaking nations around the world.’

Even though the Index is however increasing, the iLABOUR staff has by now employed this facts to publish a sequence of educational papers and stories on subject areas ranging from how online labour can bridge the city-rural divide to how Fortune 500 firms are making use of the online gig financial system to discover freelancers.

For the reason that the resource is freely offered through the iLABOUR web page, the broader study group has been capable to use this facts to look into a wide variety of other challenges. ‘A ton of study spin-offs, college students and study colleagues are by now making use of the facts to respond to very individual issues about freelance perform in the Philippines or Spain,’ claims Stephany. Economists at Oxford University’s Saïd Small business College are also accessing the facts to look into global selling price discrepancies in online labour marketplaces.

A new global normal

Although facts developed by the iLABOUR challenge has established an critical source for researchers, there has also been massive desire from policymakers. Above the past 3 decades, the challenge staff has been invited to present their perform at many coverage events organised by the European Commission, the OECD, the European Basis for the Enhancement of Residing and Doing the job Ailments, and the European Union’s statistical business office, Eurostat.

In addition, principal investigator Lehdonvirta was appointed to the European Commission’s Significant-level Pro Group on the Affect of the Digital Transformation on EU Labour Marketplaces and facts from the On-line Labour Index was employed for the group’s last report.

‘After the challenge finishes, I consider the online labour index will reside on and keep on to improve but possibly beneath the umbrella of an institution like the United Nation’s Global Labour Organization,’ claims Stephany, including that this would assist the perform to make an even higher impact than has been attained so considerably.

‘This is critical because online labour is deciding the working day-to-working day realities of an expanding share of the world’s performing populace. That is why we have to repeatedly scrutinise this new entire world of perform,’ he concludes.