Future scenarios of platform work
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 key 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.
What is a Future scenario?
Scenarios are speculative stories that ask 'what if?' questions encouraging decision makers to consider events that may only be remote possibilities.
A set of consolidated policy pointers have been developed. These pointers identify issues that experts assess as likely to emerge, irrespective of what the future might look like, as well as those that are specifically related to individual scenarios.
Possible futures of the platform economy
Listed below are potential platform work scenarios that were derived through this project. The scenarios are to assist policymakers in considering potential development pathways of the platform economy as the basis to consider relevant and feasible interventions.
- Business as usual: The business as usual scenario assumes the least change compared with the current situation, so it is the most probable in the short run. The scenario assumes a continued moderate level of technological progress and labour market polarisation.
- Robust and consistent EU response: This scenario is set against major events experienced in the EU over recent years, such as the Great Recession, the refugee crisis, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. These developments have triggered political instability and fuelled the rise of nationalism in many EU Member States.
- Clear employment status benefits all workers and worker cooperatives: This scenario assumes that platform workers have gained a more powerful position in a recovering labour market where demand for labour exceeds supply, which enables them to prevail upon governments to clarify their employment status.
The project identified eight key driving forces deemed to substantially influence the development of these two types of platform work. These driving forces and associated hypotheses were used to derive potential platform work scenarios.
This research was conducted prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe in February 2020. For this reason, the results do not fully take account of the outbreak.