Who’s working for the gig worker?

A look at emerging services supporting the on-demand workforce.

Much has been written about the wild growth of on-demand platforms and the gig economy, and many hands have been wrung about the impact this is having on workers.

Less has been said about the many new services, both private sector and nonprofit, that are emerging to support “gig”, “temp”, and “on-demand” workers in new ways.

To that end, Elizabeth Woyke and I recently did a deep dive on the subject, looking at the impacts that the “unbundling of the job” is having on our traditional notions of the social safety net, and interviewing companies that are working on rebuilding that safety net in ways that fit better with today’s networked worker.

This is a field that’s moving fast and growing. Beyond the dozen companies we profiled here, there are many more that we weren’t able to include, with new companies launching constantly (for example, as we were proofing the report last week, Clearbanc launched with their banking product tailored to gig workers). So the companies we cover in the report are not meant to be a complete and exhaustive list, but rather an initial snapshot of an emerging field.

In this report (available here as a free O’Reilly eBook), we’ll cover:

  • the unbundling of the job and the subsequent unbundling of the social safety net;
  • the debate over worker classification: “W2” employee status vs. “1099” independent contractor status;
  • a look at 7 categories where new services are emerging: Job Discovery & Scheduling, Finance and Administration, Benefits, Healthcare, and Insurance, Identity and Reputation, Community and Organizing, Education and Training, and Facilities and Equipment;
  • interviews with a dozen founders building companies whose express purpose is to support independent, gig workers, in ways that fit their lives;
  • a discussion of policy questions, including the proposal of a third, “dependent contractor” status; the importance of worker’s access to their data; and whether the “gig economy” is just a fad or is part of something bigger;

Next month I’ll be out at the Next:Economy Conference talking about this subject. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the eBook, and we will look forward to watching this nascent field continue to grow.

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