Strategic Investments

What if? Let's find out.

Our Investments In Strategic Opportunities

In addition to our direct investments in innovators, The Workers Lab addresses gaps where we identify challenges and potential new solutions that require a jump start and where our team of experts can provide unique value. Our work in this area has included investing in design sprints and timely special projects designed to tackle a range of issues workers face. Our focus is on moving quickly to leverage our understanding of worker challenges, convene our extensive network, and then collaborate to create a solution we can iterate and test with workers. 

Examples of our past investments in strategic opportunities include:

  • Our extensive investments in understanding the benefits and best practices for delivering emergency cash to workers.
  • Our incubation of Canary, a new social enterprise that is actively partnering with employers to provide emergency cash to their employees.
  • Our partnership with Steady to develop a worker-informed tech solution called the "Income Passport" to improve gig workers’ access to safety net benefits.
  • Our partnership with the New Jersey Future of Work Accelerator which is building a model for how state governments can invest directly in worker-led and worker-centered solutions.

Accelerating Innovation: Our Adapted Design Sprint Methodology

Through our efforts to bring together diverse stakeholders to quickly solve a problem, we have adapted Google's Design Sprint methodology, to bring about learning with speed, discipline, and collaboration. At The Workers Lab, we’ve made this experimentation process our own by requiring involvement of workers who inform the solution from start to finish.

Our process helps us:

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Our 2022 Design Sprint and Special Project

GIG WORKER LEARNING PROJECT

We are running a special project in partnership with the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative to understand more about gig workers and the challenges they face. Our partnership seeks to provide the field with a foundation of understanding about gig and contract workers, what they need, and what solutions will make the biggest difference in their lives. Our work will focus on:

  •  Engaging researchers to fully assess what research exists, where consensus lies, and what gaps require new research.
  • Partnering with worker organizations and worker leaders to meaningfully involve workers through participatory, open-listening research
  • Establishing an ongoing participatory research framework that centers workers and allows for the field to build from one another’s research findings.
More about this special project can be found here.

 

DESIGN SPRINT TO EXPLORE HOW FLEXIBLE WORK CAN BE QUALITY WORK.

All work – whether it is standard employment or gig and contract work – should allow workers flexibility without sacrificing quality. This year, The Workers Lab aims to invest over $1 million to demonstrate how to make this possible. Historically, the need for flexibility has often come at the expense of adequate pay, and access to benefits and protections, which creates a harmful and unnecessary tradeoff that hurts workers, consumers, and our economy. Using our design sprint methodology, we are setting out to expand and test a worker-centered workforce platform that provides opportunities for workers to find quality, flexible work while also meeting the “consumer” demand for flexible workers. We’ve assembled a team of worker-leaders, tech innovators, policy, and government leaders to help us build on an initial pilot of the platform in the City of Long Beach, California that matched workers’ availability and fair rates with families seeking their services, and found promising results. We will utilize an iterative, worker-informed process to take this government-run workforce platform to the next level by (1) broadening the platform infrastructure to reach workers providing a variety of services, and (2) expanding use of the platform across multiple cities.

More about this design sprint can be found here.

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What We Learned

Our Design Sprint for Social Change led to the 2019 pilot of The Workers Strength Fund, which made $1,000 in emergency cash available to gig workers. What did workers spend the money on? Was $1,000 enough? Learn more about our methodology and findings.

Find Out More

DESIGN SPRINT UPDATES