Driving forces for platform work scenarios

18 september 2020

The research project ‘Future scenarios of platform work’ explores the economic, labour market and societal impacts of two types of platform work – platform-determined routine work and worker-initiated moderately skilled platform work – by 2030.

The project identified eight driving forces deemed to substantially influence the development of these two types of platform work. These driving forces and associated hypotheses were then used to derive potential platform work scenarios, and, from these, pointers were developed on what policy could do to make a desirable future happen and to avoid an undesirable one.


Key drivers

  • Technology: Robotisation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence affect the tasks that can be undertaken by machines, computing power and the capacities of algorithms.
  • Labour market: General economic trends and work opportunities in the traditional labour market influence the demand for and supply of tasks mediated through platform work, as well as the quality of working conditions.
  • Information obligation: Political willingness and capacities to regulate the obligation of platforms to provide authorities with information relevant to taxation or social protection influence the attractiveness of platform work as a business model and employment form.
  • Labour regulation: Regulation related to employment status, working conditions, occupational safety and health, social protection and representation influences the attractiveness of platform work as a business model and employment form.
  • Sector regulation: Sector regulations obliging platforms to satisfy certain conditions for entering into or conducting specific activities affect the attractiveness of platform work as business model, as well as the competitive position of platforms compared to traditional businesses.
  • Consumer protection: Regulatory frameworks protecting consumers in case of incidents influence the attractiveness of platform work as a business model and source for product or service provision.
  • Platform ownership and governance: Who is driving the platform and their intentions influence the business model and competitive position of the platforms, including their potential to grow.
  • Platform business model and services provided: The purpose of the platform and the services provided by workers for clients affect the appeal of platforms for the users; in turn, attracting and retaining users is an important success factor in the platform economy.

Heavy trends and other driving forces

The following include other factors that were considered and are expected to influence the development of platform work until 2030.

  • Demographic ageing and migration: Demographic and societal trends influence the supply of labour and, hence, related to labour market developments, the attractiveness of platform work as employment form.
  • Work values and motivation: People’s expectations of work and their motivation for work influence their willingness to engage in specific types of work and employment.
  • Digital access and skills: People’s digital skills and their access to communication infrastructures influence their ability to engage in platform work, either as a worker or as a client.
  • Consumer ethics: Consumer awareness of issues such as employment and working conditions, competition and taxation influences their consumption choices generally and specifically whether they see the platform economy as an option to source products and services.
  • Company value chains: Developments related to the (dis)integration of tasks – that is, the insourcing and outsourcing of individual steps in production or service provision – affect the scope of activities mediated through platforms.
  • Public infrastructure: The availability, access to and quality of public infrastructure like roads, internet or data systems affect the functioning of platforms and their business models.
  • EU integration: Aspects like a single market for consumption or labour influence the potential of cross-border activities of platforms.
  • Taxation: Taxation of labour (workers), products and services (clients), and revenues and profits (platforms) influences the attractiveness of platform work as a business model and employment form.
  • Platform competition: The number of platform companies in the market and their competitive position in relation to each other affect the further growth potential of individual platforms within the platform economy, as well as their total market power compared to businesses in the traditional economy.
  • Performance control: Surveillance and management of workers, either by the platform or by clients, for example through algorithms or ratings but also through gamification approaches, influences the attractiveness of platform work as an employment form.



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