What is platform economy?

Varying terms like platform economy, sharing economy, collaborative economy, crowdsourcing economy and gig economy are used to mean the digital labour platforms that have come into existence with the rise of internet from the year 2000 onward. Gig economy, the term borrowed from music where bands are asked to perform live for some time, is a combination of online/digital marketplaces for engaging individuals for short term tasks. Gig economy represents non standard forms of employment or atypical employment relationships where it becomes difficult to assess whether the relationships governed by digital labour platforms are autonomous or subordinate in nature.

The platform economy distinguishes between two major forms of work: the crowdwork and work on demand via apps.

Crowdwork activities are performed online and are location-independent thereby connecting a client and a worker on global level. It includes software development, content moderation as well as transcription of audios and videos. Examples are UpWork, PeoplePerHour, Toptal, Freelancer and Amazon Mechanical Turk.

The “work on demand via apps” though matches the worker and the client digitally however the work is performed locally. The activities include transportation, food delivery and home services. Major gig economy organizations include Uber, Careem, Lyft (transportation), Deliveroo, Glovo, Foodora, Foodpanda, Uber Eats (food delivery), Care (providing child and elderly care as well as housekeeping services) and Airbnb (accommodation).

Categorization of Digital Labour Platform

Source: screenshot from “Digital labour platforms and the future of work: Towards decent work in the online world” published by ILO in 2018