The Gig Economy in Times of COVID-19: Designing for Gig Workers’ Needs

As part of the Microsoft Research Virtual Symposium on the New Future of Work, I led the publication of a position paper on the gig economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is an introductory video to our position paper. Click here to read the full paper.

About this paper

This position paper explored the design implications that gig economy companies put in place for gig workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. It argues that most of the design features of those gig services bounded to geographical proximity, such as ride-hailing and food delivery, are put in place with the end customer in mind – not necessarily the worker. On the other hand, we found little evidence that gig workers who work entirely online, such as freelancers and microworkers, have received relevant support to address the disruptions the pandemic has caused on their livelihood.

Provocation

While research continues to unravel the precarity of gig economy work, there is a need for human-computer interaction practitioners to support the working conditions of gig workers. If we are to live a future of work with more contingent, casualised, and uncertain labour markets, what design practices will we need to support workers? Only when gig work is made issue visible, will we be able to design for supporting better working experiences. This paper, among much other research worldwide, is attempting to bring attention to those who bear most risks in this work practice – workers. 

Published by carlosalvarezdelavega

Co-founder of Chipotles and Chill. Designer and Researcher.

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