Platform work scenarios

18 september 2020

Listed below are the 10 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.
  • Technological dystopia: The scenario assumes rapid progress in the development and deployment of sophisticated technologies. The labour market suffers from a disadvantageous economic situation that together with the intensified digitalisation results in labour supply exceeding labour demand. 
  • Worst case: This scenario assumes very limited change compared with the current situation. Thus, it is very probable in the short run. The scenario assumes a continued moderate level of technological progress and a labour market situation in which supply exceeds demand. 
  • 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. 
  • Regulate to innovate: This scenario assumes favourable framework conditions, with a recovery of the economic and labour market situation in the EU and a positive innovation environment that drives fast development and adoption of sophisticated technologies.
  • 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.
  • Worker and trade union power: In this scenario, labour shortages in combination with various legal clarifications strengthen platform workers’ position in relation to platforms. 
  • Regulation-driven and emphasis on public platforms: The scenario assumes that in a further polarising labour market situation with moderate technological progress policymakers regulate several aspects relevant for platform work, such as the employment status of platform workers, platforms’ sector affiliation and liability towards consumers.
  • Matching, only matching: This scenario assumes that the EU labour markets are polarised, and minimum employment standards are provided to all, irrespective of type of employment. Technology is being developed and adopted at a moderate pace, thereby facilitating but not strongly driving the platform economy.
  • Economic downturn and partial regulatory response: This scenario assumes an unfavourable labour market situation, which, in combination with a moderate level of technological progress, drives the development of platform work. Governments feel inclined to establish regulations to limit the attractiveness of the platform economy, to avoid the crowding out of the traditional economy and deterioration of employment and working conditions.
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