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Temporary, part-time, and independent work remain overlooked in research and policy-making, even as they replace permanent employment. Global labour statistics tend to overlook temporary, part-time, and independent contracting work, and focus solely on full-time and permanent employment. Yet, research suggests that a significant portion of net employment growth since 2005 has occurred in the independent and self-employed categories - meaning that what was once deemed “non-standard” work is becoming the new norm. Managers are now more likely to oversee diverse, geographically-dispersed teams, to assess worker performance with new types of analytics, and to expand their searches for new recruits to non-traditional environments. The rise of “platform” economies (based on broad, far-reaching digital entities like Amazon or Uber) has created more flexible work opportunities and a “gig” economy. However, this flexibility is only rarely an advantage for workers, and mostly only a benefit for contracting entities. Workers must rely on their prioritization skills to maintain a work-life balance, and on their ability to cope with demands for near-immediate availability and instant comparisons (in the form of ratings) with their gig worker competition - which is constantly expanding. Customers are meanwhile exerting their own power via ratings and related algorithm tweaks, which creates more risk for individual workers than for the companies hiring them on a contract basis. Concerns related to the lack of governance and legal protections for contractual work have increased, not least because its prevalence is poorly captured in current statistics. Most related studies have relied on data shared by relatively few digital talent platforms, and few countries have completed comprehensive labour market analyses that include these new forms of work. Data published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017, for example, showed a surprising decline in American workers with “alternative work arrangements” compared with 2005, according to a report published by the Brookings Institution. However, it is estimated that by the year 2027 more than half of the roughly 145 million working Americans will fall within the “independent worker” category. Current legal standards in many countries for what constitutes an actual employee, rather than a contractual worker, are vague at best. Worker classification and related labour model regulation require updating, in order to formally recognize the needs of growing segments of the global workforce. It is crucial that more related data, research, and information be made available, and that relevant terminology and measurement standards are harmonized within and across countries.

New Work Models


New organisations of work