Gig economy workers benefit from the flexibility of their work

Thursday, 6 April, 2017

According to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, in the US.

While the Uber relationship may have other drawbacks, Uber drivers benefit significantly from real-time flexibility, earning more than twice the surplus they would in less flexible arrangements. If required to supply labor inflexibly at prevailing wages, they would also reduce the hours they supply by more than two-thirds.

I may be wrong, but I’m taking surplus to mean the amount of money drivers make. Uber operates on a surge pricing model for their fares, meaning the busier it is, the more a ride will cost. So drivers who have the flexibility to be available during peak periods stand to earn more.

Related: , ,

Driving while in labour? All in a day’s work for a gig economy worker

Monday, 27 March, 2017

Uber, Fiverr, AirTasker, Lyft. A handful of so-called “gig economy” employers, whose workers take on one-off jobs such as driving passengers from one place to another, or doing a variety of odd-jobs for individuals, or companies.

Here you might be doing anything from designing a logo, fixing a home appliance, or buying and delivering takeaway food from a popular hamburger restaurant, usually on a weekend evening, for people who’d rather not leave the house.

Some workers make a few dollars a week from this sort of employment. I’m guessing a determined, flexible, and organised, gig-worker could pull in several hundred dollars a week. I’ve heard of an AirTasker worker in Sydney earning up to four thousand dollars per week, though I suspect that is an exception.

For a lot of people though, the work can entail long hours, and comes with few, if any, employee protections or benefits. In that regard, this story about a Lyft driver working in Chicago, by Jia Tolentino, writing for The New Yorker, is an eye opener, to say the least:

Mary, who was driving in Chicago, picked up a few riders, and then started having contractions. “Since she was still a week away from her due date,” Lyft wrote, “she assumed they were simply a false alarm and continued driving.” As the contractions continued, Mary decided to drive to the hospital. “Since she didn’t believe she was going into labor yet,” Lyft went on, “she stayed in driver mode, and sure enough – ping! – she received a ride request en route to the hospital.”

Related: , ,

A day in the life of Gig Economy workers. Or us, in a few years time

Thursday, 23 February, 2017

It is estimated that in just three years, forty percent of the US workforce will be independent contractors. They will source much of their work by way of the gig, or access, economy. As a simple example, we’re talking about Uber drivers, or Airtasker workers.

I dare say the situation will be similar elsewhere, as more workers are forced, or choose, to seek employment away from conventional, or nine-to-five, workplaces. And while people may be busy working, they will find themselves performing a number of different tasks.

Los Angeles based photographer Jessica Chou recently photographed several of these freelancers, as they go about their various roles.

Related: , ,

Does listening to music boost workplace productivity? It depends…

Thursday, 16 February, 2017

Does listening to music while working, make a person more productive? It’s a good question. Sometimes I listen to music while working, sometimes I don’t. It all depends on my mood. And mood is what it’s about. Music makes people feel happier, thus making them more productive.

But there are caveats. While music can make repetitive tasks seem less tedious, and make noisy workplaces more tolerable, it can also be distracting. Particularly where the music includes lyrics, as a lot does, and also where the music is new, or unfamiliar. These things demand more focus.

Therefore listening to tunes you already like, preferably instrumental, and of an ambient nature, would make the best choices in a workplace situation. I’m thinking tracks such as Evening Star, by Australian down tempo ambient act, All India Radio, would be what you’re looking for then.

Related: , ,

Will coding and programming work become the new blue collar jobs?

Monday, 13 February, 2017

Coding as the new blue collar job? Rather than worry about the decline of manufacturing, and other manual labour jobs, which are gradually being lost to automation, why not focus on teaching workers of the future to write software and apps?

These sorts of coders won’t have the deep knowledge to craft wild new algorithms for flash trading or neural networks. Why would they need to? That level of expertise is rarely necessary at a job. But any blue-collar coder will be plenty qualified to sling Java¬≠Script for their local bank. That’s a solidly middle-class job, and middle-class jobs are growing: The national average salary for IT jobs is about $81,000 (more than double the national average for all jobs), and the field is set to expand by 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than most other occupations.

After all, demand is only going to increase as we become more reliant on computing technologies. And it’s not as if coding is work reserved for the likes of hot-shot Silicon Valley startup founders. Even I’ve coded in the past.

In Kentucky, mining veteran Rusty Justice decided that code could replace coal. He cofounded Bit Source, a code shop that builds its workforce by retraining coal miners as programmers. Enthusiasm is sky high: Justice got 950 applications for his first 11 positions. Miners, it turns out, are accustomed to deep focus, team play, and working with complex engineering tech. “Coal miners are really technology workers who get dirty,” Justice says.

Related: , ,

The employee entrepreneur, this is the worker of the future

Friday, 27 January, 2017

Those entering the workforce for first time in coming years, will increasingly move between being entrepreneurs, and employees, says Sarah Moran, CEO of Girl Geek Academy, an organisation that supports the aspirations of women wishing to pursue STEM careers, or work in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In other words, you get a job or you make a job, and it’s totally OK to bounce in between:

“Millennials have grown up knowing that stability comes from being able to make their own jobs, rather than relying on someone else to give it to them,” Ms Moran said. “They have support in ways nobody has had before. They can literally Google [something] if they don’t know and they can connect to communities way beyond the friends they know. They can have entrepreneurial education at their fingertips. They’ve got the world in their pocket.”

Related: , ,

Working from home is dead. Long live co-working

Tuesday, 17 January, 2017

Working from home is so 2014.

The good news though, you don’t have to take a job in a company, just so you can be among others. Instead, you can take your laptop, and other digital paraphernalia, to a co-working space, and tap into the workplace vibe, without becoming part of a workplace.

The first trend is how the shared office and the network have replaced the solo entrepreneur in her garage as the incubators for new companies and ideas. “Coworking” didn’t exist a decade ago, and today there are nearly a million people globally working alongside peers who aren’t necessarily their colleagues. Workers in these spaces consistently report making more connections, learning skills faster, and feeling more inspired and in control than their cubicle-dwelling counterparts inside large companies. They also have different expectations from cloud workers content to commute from their couch.

I don’t co-work as such, though I often work at a place other than my residence. Places where other people gather, though not necessarily cafes, that offer internet access, and somewhere to set up shop for the day.

Related: , ,

Some ideas for successful online businesses that are run alone

Friday, 13 January, 2017

If you want to establish your own online business, and are looking for ideas, then this Hacker News discussion thread may be just what the doctor ordered. There sure are some great one person start-ups and ventures out there.

Related: , , , ,

You get too old for some jobs sooner than others

Wednesday, 14 December, 2016

People working as sociologists, lawyers, and chief executives are the least susceptible to so-called “age related decline”, which can compel those such as roofers, plumbers, and airline pilots, to retire at a younger age.

From a financial perspective, working into your 70s or 80s can be a great idea. It’s also completely unrealistic for many workers, especially if they want to stick to their chosen profession. It’s not just blue-collar workers with physically demanding jobs who can’t work forever. Even office workers need to prepare for the possibility that their careers will have a natural shelf life.

Related: , ,

Lars Schneider, landscape photographer

Monday, 8 August, 2016

Lars Schneider, of Hamburg, Germany, when he’s not elsewhere in the world for up to six months a year, that is, talks about life and work as a landscape photographer. Work that entails finding a good angle, and taking a photo? If only it were so straightforward.

Related: , , ,