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The global gig workers: How platform work is reshaping economies and livelihoods.

The global gig workers: How platform work is reshaping economies and livelihoods.

“You are a number, you are an ID, you are a scooter icon that moves around a map. … The app does not know you. The app does not listen to you.”

— "Singh," delivery rider

Published in the journalism non-profit Rest of World in September 2021, the Global Gig Workers was an attempt to capture the lived experiences of people working in the platform economy. Working with the data journalist Youyou Zhou and the mobile survey company Premise, we created a multidimensional survey that was distributed to nearly 5,000 gig workers in 15 countries. We combined this with on-the-ground reporting in more than a dozen places, helping to show commonalities and differences in how platforms and algorithmic management are reshaping the labour force.

The project combined rigorous analysis with shoe-leather reporting, blending data with personal narratives from across the world.

We used the data from the project to direct further reporting, examining the roots of gender inequality in the platform economy, and how the economics of venture capital have driven the evolution of gig work.

Gig workers are uncertain, scared, and barely scraping by
The platform work model is reshaping entire economies, sectors, lifestyles, and livelihoods.
‘We’re all fighting the giant’: Gig workers around the world are finally organizing
Faced with fragility and uncertainty, gig workers are connecting across borders to challenge platforms’ power and policies.
The gig workers index: Mixed emotions, dim prospects
A survey of nearly 5,000 gig workers in 15 countries compares the experience of platform work worldwide.
How the platform economy sets women up to fail
Female gig workers earn less and are less satisfied than their male counterparts.
The investors pushing the gig model around the world
Backed by influential financiers, platform companies are carving up global markets.

We also worked with seven reporters in Asia, Africa and Latin America to source first-person experiences of the gig economy, framed around a simple core metric that encapsulates how they view their working day.

53.9 kilometers
The distance covered in one day by Rappi delivery rider Lisandro Linarez in Colombia.
The amount that tuk-tuk driver Nangahami Premawathi pays in commission to ride-hailing apps in Sri Lanka.
​​5.0 (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
“You spend a lot of time waiting in this job, so I smoke two packs of unfiltered clove cigarettes per day. They keep me awake.”
1,000 calls
In India, thousands of medical professionals rely on Telehealth apps for their livelihood, like this doctor in Bengaluru.
What it’s like being a delivery driver in Korea
Last year, 16 delivery workers in South Korea died from what labor unions called “death by overwork.”
400 rand
About $28. That’s how much on-demand cleaner Nomagugu Sibanda in South Africa earns in one day.
13 hours
The length of ride-hailing driver Ashenafi Alemseged’s shifts in Ethiopia.

The project won in the Excellence in Technology Reporting category at the 2022 Society of Publishers in Asia awards, and was longlisted for the One World Media awards.