There’s been plenty of interesting research and news stories on the gig economy and related topics n recent weeks. Instead of sharing the latest debates over Uber of AirBnB, let me point to two new resources that take a deeper dive into the issues:
- Global Coworking Forecast: A new study from GCUC (the Global Coworking Unconference Conference) attempts to get a grip on the size of today’s global coworking market. The short answer is that it’s mighty big. GCUC surveys estimate that, around the world, around 1.74 million people are working in more than 14,000 coworking spaces. The market is expected to continue booming, with annual growth rates projected at 16.1 percent. Future growth projections are based on the assumption that more traditional corporations will use cowork spaces as part of their own office networks. You can download the full report at the GCUC website; email address is required for download.
- UK Parliamentary Study of the Gig Economy: Earlier this year, the British Government commissioned a major study of the gig economy, known as the Taylor Report, a useful guide to new ways of working. This new Parliamentary committee report, A Framework for Modern Employment, moves beyond data to make important policy recommendations. The basic themes focus on providing clearer direction on the definition of a worker vs. a self-employed freelancer. It recommends that once a company reaches a certain size threshold (which is not yet defined in law), its employees should be defined as a worker (and eligible for benefits) by default. It also offers a number of other suggestions that will clarify when someone is a full-time worker and when they are a self-employed gig economy worker. These include require companies to justify why certain personnel (or classes of workers) are deemed as gig economy workers.
While this new report leaves many open questions, British policymakers are at least trying to grapple with the policy and legal challenges around new ways of working. Here in the US, few policy makers (with the exception of Sen. Mark Warner and a few others) are even talking about these issues. It’s time for a more serious debate and discussion.