Online gig work is growing rapidly, but workers lack job protections, World Bank report says

WASHINGTON — Online gig work is growing globally, particularly in the developing world, creating an important source of employment for women and young people in poorer countries where jobs are scarce, according to a new World Bank report.

People stand near the entrance to the World Bank building April 5, 2021, in Washington. Online gig work is growing globally, particularly in the developing world, creating an important source of employment for women and young people in poorer countries where jobs are scarce, according to a new World Bank report.

Andrew Harnik, Associated PressThe report estimates the number of global online gig workers at as many as 435 million people and says demand for gig work increased 41% between 2016 and the first quarter of 2023. That boost is generating concern, though, among worker rights advocates about the lack of strong job protections in the gig economy, where people work job to job with little security and few employment rights.

While location-based gig services such as Uber, Lyft and TaskRabbit require labor like moving and delivery, online gig assignments can be largely done at home. Tasks include image tagging, data entry, website design and software development.

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For women in the developing world, “there aren’t enough opportunities and they really struggle to get good quality jobs because of constraints and household responsibilities,” said Namita Datta, lead author of the World Bank report, released Thursday.

She said online gig work provides women and underprivileged youth “a very interesting opportunity to participate in the labor market.” Roughly 90% of low-income countries’ workforce is in the informal sector, according to the report.

Worker advocates stress the precariousness of gig work and the lack of job security, accountability from management and other social protections to workers’ health and retirement.

“The economic conditions in developing countries are different from the U.S., but one thing that is universal is the importance of developing and prioritizing good jobs — with a basic minimum wage and basic labor standards,” said Sharon Block, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Center for Labor and a Just Economy. ”There might be different pathways and timelines of getting there, but that’s a universal value.”

The report outlines how social insurance coverage is low among gig workers globally. Roughly half of the surveyed gig workers did not have a retirement plan and as much as 73% of Venezuelan gig workers and 75% of Nigerians did not have any savings for retirement.

Lindsey Cameron, a management professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said “because there are so few options available to workers in these developing nations,” online gigs — with or without social protections — were better than no job options for many workers.

“And since workers are economically dependent on this work, and they don’t have any sort of basic protections, that’s what is ultimately exploitive. The odds are always in the platform’s favor, never the workers favor.”

In the United States, gig workers, both online and onsite, represent a growing portion of the workforce and there is ongoing contention about worker rights on these platforms.

A 2021 Pew Research study, the latest available, shows that 16% of U.S. adults have earned money through an online gig platform, and 30% of 18- to 29-year-olds have done so.

Transportation and delivery companies Uber, Lyft, and Grubhub have been entangled in dozens of lawsuits over minimum wage, employment classification and alleged sexual harassment.

“Right now, there are too many jobs where workers are misclassified,” Block said. “Which means many workers are not guaranteed minimum wage, do not have a social safety net, they don’t get unemployment, or workers’ compensation.”

“Now some states have stepped in to mandate paid leave, but if you don’t live in one of those states, you have to play the good boss lottery.”

The World Bank report was based on surveys across 17 countries, including Egypt, Argentina, Nigeria, Russia and China.

10 online resources to find a work-from-home job

Long before the pandemic changed how we work, FlexJobs collected the best remote listings for freelance, part-time and full-time work-from-home jobs. FlexJobs does charge a membership fee, but the site also screens listings, making you less likely to come across a scam. You can also sort by over 50 job categories to find the perfect fit for your next role.

As the name suggests, JustRemote lists thousands of fully work-from-home positions in a wide range of industries. Categories include design, project management, sales, customer service and human resources. It’s free to search many of the listings, but you also can signup for a $6 Power Search option to unlock even more remote jobs.

Remote.Co provides a large selection of curated fully remote job listings, as well as highlighting remote-friendly companies. There also are articles and tips about working from home, including a comparison of professional development courses and certifications that are helpful for remote workers. This site is free to use.


We Work Remotely has attracted 4.5 million visitors to the remote-only job board. Job seekers can search hundreds of positions, from programming to customer support, for free. The advanced filters make it easy to find the right job.

If you want the freedom to work from anywhere, search for your next position on Working Nomads. The site features freelance, part-time and full-time jobs that can be done from your home, hotel room or RV. This remote job board is also free.

Pangian has a large list of reputable remote companies, as well as a regularly updated work-from-home job board. You’ll need to sign up to search listings, but the job board is free.

If you’re done with the days of hourlong commutes, search for your next job on Skip The Drive. This job board lists remote, flexible and hybrid jobs. You’ll find entry-level to senior roles in account management, business development, project management, human resources and IT on this free site.

Job seekers on Remote Work Junkie will find a plethora of resources, from a work-from-home job board to blogs about navigating remote work. Browse the site for free, and don’t miss their list of the top 100 companies hiring remotely.

Growmotely has a smaller remote job board, but it’s worth signing up for their free email newsletter. Let the opportunities come to you with weekly updates about the best remote listings.

If you’re looking for a flexible job, try Jobgether. This free remote job board lets you search by flexibility features including unlimited holidays, flexible work hours or additional parental leave.

Stacker identified the industries where job openings have grown and shrank over the past year, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The job market has been volatile these last years, from turnover to labor shortages. Assembly has compiled strategies for retaining top talent.

Is your job the key to staying married? Stacker examined U.S. Census Bureau data to identify the jobs with higher—and lower—rates of divorce.


When the gig is up: Gig workers don’t always trust their boss and that might be a good thing

As the so-called ‘gig economy’ continues to grow, so do questions about how this type of non-traditional work compares to full-time work arrangements and how these new relationships differ and impact performance and commitment.

Researchers from the University of New Hampshire took a closer look at gig workers—which include freelancers, independent contractors and temporary workers—and examined relationships between workers and their managers and found that one trait, trust, could be a double-edged sword. The paper is published in the Journal of Trust Research.

“Millions of workers are now considered gig workers, offering them more flexibility with schedules, working remotely and short-term assignments,” said Rachel Campagna, associate professor of management at UNH’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics.

“Our research found that with this flexibility also means less traditional workplace interaction and relationship investment by employers which can lead to less trust by workers. But ironically, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because in some cases if something goes wrong, gig workers don’t seem to take it personally, rebounding more quickly and brushing it off.”

In their study researchers outline a series of four studies that looked at a variety of self-identified gig workers. Through surveys and tasks, they asked them to imagine a specific work situation that involved a certain level of trust and asked them how they would respond.

Previous studies show that work relationships are important, and trust is a key component, but researchers found in this case when there was an issue of mistrust with a manager, the gig workers were not as emotionally invested in their relationship with their manager as traditional full-time employees, who had a tendency to take breaches of trust harder emotionally, which had subsequent impacts on their performance and commitment to their manager.

“Gig workers are such a huge part our economy and it’s not clear how well they are treated or respected,” said Jennifer Griffith, associate professor of organizational behavior and management at UNH’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. “Even though they rebounded more quickly, trust is important in building relationships with not only a manager but also with co-workers and teams and this study shows that it is important to invest in people, no matter their work circumstances.”

The paper is among the first to theorize and test that trust in managers is different for gig workers than it is for traditional workers, and that it has implications for performance differences between the worker types. The researchers suggest that more research is needed in this area as companies and employees shift their work style and create new work arrangements.

More information: Rachel Campagna et al, When the gig isn’t up: The importance (and relevance) of trust on gig workers’ performance and commitment, Journal of Trust Research (2023). DOI: 10.1080/21515581.2023.2215747

Citation: When the gig is up: Gig workers don’t always trust their boss and that might be a good thing (2023, August 31) retrieved 11 September 2023 from

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Why Restaurants Should Embrace the Gig Economy Shift

The hospitality industry is extremely fast-paced, and restaurants must face persistent challenges with a strong determination, will, and competitive advantage.

The average lifespan of a restaurant is short-lived, with a vast majority of new venues closing their doors within their first year of operations. Of those who remain, there is a 70 percent chance that they will close within the next three to five years.

These statistics have always lingered in the industry, discouraging potential restaurant owners from chasing their dreams. The good news is that there is a high probability that a restaurant will remain in business after its first five years of operations—it just has to survive until then. And luckily, there is an all-inclusive answer to the high turnover that created these statistics in the first place: the gig economy.

This post will explore the power of the gig economy and how it can help the quick-service industry survive and thrive.

The Gig Economy: Redefining Workforce Flexibility

Freelancers are becoming more prevalent in society. Now, those with a highly demanded skill do not have to tie themselves down to just one opportunity. With the growth of the gig economy in the hospitality industry, gig work has synchronized with the traditional job market, offering a specialized workforce without the need for onboarding or on-site training.

Historically, following a traditional staffing model in hospitality has been an ineffective practice, as the industry has consistently championed exceedingly high turnover rates, leading to tens of thousands of dollars lost each month in turnover costs.  Now, there is a solution that will save restaurants from burning through their bottom line and, instead, allow them to keep their doors open.

The gig economy empowers individuals to offer their skills and experience in the form of “gigs,” in addition to their regular employment, all at their leisure. This increases operational efficiency and lowers turnover costs for the venues where the gigs take place, creating a mutually beneficial situation for both sides.

The Power of Gig Workers in High-Volume Shifts

Gig work is essential for restaurants to get the help they need, when they need it most, without having to catch someone up to speed. Here are the powerful benefits of contracting gig workers during peak hours and busy seasons:

Flexibility and On-Demand Access

Scheduling high-volume shifts involves long lead times and fixed commitments from regular employees, which can cause problems. Regularly scheduled 40-hour work weeks are unheard of in the hospitality industry, and a large percentage of shifts end up being assigned at the last minute.

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