Labour marketplaces are changing considerably, with thousands and thousands now acquiring and carrying out do the job online. Having said that, as formal data only capture classic labour marketplaces, an EU-funded task has been tracking the increasing environment of online do the job.


©, #337053566, 2020

About the previous ten years, increasing quantities of people today have been acquiring work and carrying out do the job by means of online ‘gig’ platforms. These internet sites provide the platform for responsibilities asked for by businesses, these kinds of as writing, translation, details science and advertising and marketing, which can then be carried out remotely by staff residing anyplace in the environment.

But even as this new kind of do the job disrupts classic labour marketplaces, formal work data carry on to concentrate on extra typical labour marketplaces. This has resulted in policymakers and researchers lacking crucial information and facts as to how the online labour industry operates and the problems beneath which its staff are functioning.

In reaction, the EU’s iLABOUR task, funded by the European Investigation Council, has produced the Online Labour Index, the initially world wide economic indicator committed to tracking the online gig economy. The index measures the source and demand for online freelance labour by tracking the range of tasks and responsibilities distributed throughout unique nations around the world and occupations in genuine time.

‘We are trying to provide policymakers with this details to give them an plan of how huge this total new online industry basically is,’ says principal investigator Vili Lehdonvirta of Oxford College in the British isles. ‘The plan at the rear of the Online Labour Index is to operate as the online labour equivalent to the Organisation for Economic Co-procedure and Development index or the International Labour Organization’s data, which are generally assets for policymakers and researchers to refer to and to see how specific phenomena are shaping the environment of do the job.’

The index is crucial, adds Lehdonvirta, for the reason that it will enable reply socially related issues these kinds of as: Is this industry nevertheless increasing? How many people today are functioning for these platforms? How considerably are they getting paid out? ‘Empirical details could also enable researchers and policymakers who are investigating gig workers’ labour rights,’ he says.

Fuelling academic exploration

The task team created the index – which instantly updates day-to-day – by tracking tasks posted on the five biggest English-language online labour platforms, like Upwork, PeoplePerHour and Amazon Mechanical Turk.

‘With a handful of platforms, you are by now covering a pretty massive share of the market’s world wide activity,’ says Fabian Stephany, economist and details scientist at the College of Oxford, who is in demand of establishing the Index. ‘But we are presently extending the Online Labour Index to incorporate smaller platforms that have a distinct concentrate on, for instance, the Philippines, or on Russian-talking nations around the world.’

Although the Index is nevertheless expanding, the iLABOUR team has by now used this details to produce a sequence of academic papers and studies on topics ranging from how online labour can bridge the urban-rural divide to how Fortune 500 businesses are making use of the online gig economy to obtain freelancers.

For the reason that the tool is freely obtainable by means of the iLABOUR web site, the wider exploration local community has been in a position to use this details to examine a wide range of other issues. ‘A ton of exploration spin-offs, learners and exploration colleagues are by now making use of the details to reply pretty specific issues about freelance do the job in the Philippines or Spain,’ says Stephany. Economists at Oxford University’s Saïd Enterprise College are also accessing the details to examine world wide cost distinctions in online labour marketplaces.

A new world wide common

Whilst details made by the iLABOUR task has created an crucial resource for researchers, there has also been enormous fascination from policymakers. About the previous three decades, the task team has been invited to present their do the job at various plan functions organised by the European Fee, the OECD, the European Basis for the Improvement of Residing and Performing Ailments, and the European Union’s statistical business, Eurostat.

In addition, principal investigator Lehdonvirta was appointed to the European Commission’s Large-amount Professional Team on the Impact of the Digital Transformation on EU Labour Marketplaces and details from the Online Labour Index was used for the group’s last report.

‘After the task ends, I assume the online labour index will reside on and carry on to increase but almost certainly beneath the umbrella of an institution like the United Nation’s International Labour Organization,’ says Stephany, incorporating that this would enable the do the job to make an even greater affect than has been reached so far.

‘This is crucial for the reason that online labour is pinpointing the working day-to-working day realities of an expanding share of the world’s functioning populace. That is why we need to consistently scrutinise this new environment of do the job,’ he concludes.