Many workers need and want opportunities for flexible work that are also quality work. The demand for flexibility is not new and only continues to grow as we emerge from the pandemic and as costs for things like health care and childcare are putting more low-wage workers in the position of caretaker during traditional work hours. Historically, this need for flexibility has often come at the expense of adequate pay, and access to benefits and protections. This is a harmful and unnecessary tradeoff that hurts workers, consumers, and our economy.
Flexible work can be quality work and The Workers Lab is investing $1 million to explore how to make this possible. We are setting out to expand and test a new tech platform that provides opportunities for workers to find quality, flexible work while also meeting the “consumer” demand for flexible workers. Using our adapted design sprint methodology, we will further develop and test the platform at scale across several sectors/industries in multiple cities. This sprint builds on an initial pilot of the platform in the City of Long Beach, California, which matched workers’ availability and fair rates with families seeking their services, and found promising results.
Design sprinting is an intensive, time-bound approach that engages workers in every aspect of identifying, testing, and piloting solutions to address challenges being faced by workers. We're excited to once again work with our tech partners at Beyond Jobs and we’ve already assembled a team of worker-leaders, tech innovators, policy, and government leaders to sprint with us.
While the platform can be utilized by a number of different entities, we’re prioritizing partnerships with U.S. cities in this sprint. We’re actively engaging local officials to bring this platform into their own cities and utilize it for their own flexible work needs. There are two important reasons for prioritizing cities:
- First is that, as the entity overseeing the platform, the city can help ensure that workers who utilize the platform not only have access to work on their terms, they also have reliable access to critical benefits like health insurance, unemployment insurance, workers comp, paid leave, overtime, and a fair wage. Workers would also have adequate protection against things like sexual harassment, discrimination, or unfair/abusive treatment.
- The second is that the government is already utilizing massive amounts of flexible work. According to recent data, the largest employer of U.S. gig (flexible) workers is actually the government/public sector (14%). There is an important opportunity for governments to use their purchasing power and fulfill their obligation to ensure that the flexible workers they are hiring receive the pay, benefits, and protections they deserve.
We are eager to explore the potential impacts of this new platform and look forward to sharing our findings along the way. Please continue to visit www.theworkerslab.com for updates and please consider sharing your ideas for our next investment. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.