Remote work through digital platforms, often unvisible, hides challenges and opportunities for workers. But it also hides precarious and highly competitive forms of employment.
The digital platforms work is, on many occasions, invisible to most people. But hundreds of thousands of workers around the world are employed in portals that require only a computer, an internet connection, and a series of specific skills.
In this chapter we talk about two forms of remote work. First, we approach the reality of micro-tasks or crowd-work platforms. These portals are used to develop the artificial intelligence tools for all kinds of companies, that then offer as products or services: from a vehicles driving assistant to a translation and interpretation algorithm.
We have asked Mary Gray, American anthropologist and expert in micro-task platforms, about About Artificial Intelligence:
As anthropologist and researcher Mary Gray explains, crowd-work workers repeat simple tasks, over and over, that allow training artificial intelligence. We also spoke with Alejandra Stein and Aleksandra Nikolova, two women who in recent years have worked from Spain through these platforms. From their experiences we learn that it is a highly competitive job with very low pay.
In the second part of this chapter we talk about freelance work through intermediation platforms. Online portals that connect companies with qualified professionals who work independently in areas such as design, programming, project management or translation.
To learn more about this way of remote work, we meet Alejandra and David, two freelance designers. They tell us about the positive and negative aspects of remote work and using platforms such as Freelancer, Workana, Malt or Upwork.
In this chapter we also speak with David Muñoz, a sociologist of work. with him we reflect on the challenges and opportunities brought by this type of employment, in aspects such as flexible hours, time management and family conciliation.
A new form of employment, a direct consequence of the digital revolution. Find out all the details of Crowd-work in the second episode of ‘The platform and I’. Hit play or download the full chapter on your phone!
In depth reports:
Spain has the highest volume of people working through online platforms in Europe with around 2.6% of the working population relying on digital platform work as their main form of employment. Widening the focus to include all who sporadically engage in platform work, however, sees the figure go up to 18%.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends in the digital economy that were not anticipated for another five or ten years and has upended daily life, introducing new social dynamics and consumption patterns. It has marked a turning point in many areas of our personal and collective life. One of the sectors that have been most affected is the digital economy, with special regard for the platform economy.