Editorial: Work In Progress

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Updated: January 5, 2015 12:50:05 AM

Technology could determine how employment will work in a few years from now

Aptly named Handy, there’s an app one can use (for now, in 29 US cities, Vancouver and Toronto in Canada, and six cities in the UK) to hire freelance home management services—from cleaning to packing and moving to furniture assembly. It is your regular handyman agency—only, working out of a smartphone!

As per The Economist, there are many apps that users are already downloading on to their smartphones to get the most mundane, everyday-living things done—Washio will get the laundromat to pick up clothes and deliver them home cleaned while Instacart will buy your groceries. Then, there are technologies matching white-collar jobs to suitable freelancers —Topcoder has been linking companies with software coders since 2001. Such technology-linked on-demand service providers form the hub of a human intelligence/labour network that will change how “work” works in the real world. It will bring down labour costs overall: Businesses recruiting freelancers from networks don’t have to maintain physical infrastructure and fixed labour overheads, individual recruiters (like households) get a competitive price for services sought, given there will be a plethora of competing service providers. It will push individuals looking to be recruited to take the initiative in updating skills, given the limited training capacities of companies that match them with the opportunities. At the same time, governments will have to relook labour regulation. With the potential proliferation in contract employment—a bulk of it at the micro-level—labour laws existing so far will become regressive.

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