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Independent Era™ Roundup – Episode 4

August 22, 2023

Thanks for reading. Welcome to the Independent Era™ Roundup.

Each episode, we share the things you absolutely need to know about the gig economy and modern talent—from industry news and media analysis to labor trends and customer insights—you’ll learn why the gig economy is transforming work culture. You can also find (subscribe to) this feed on the Gig Wage LinkedIn page.

Let’s dig in.

1. Walmart ‘Sparks’ gig identity crisis

(Yeji Jesse Lee and Alex Bitter for Insider)

“Del Rio said that over the past few months, he's found himself sitting in his car for hours without a single delivery. Meanwhile, he's been seeing the same handful of drivers coming in and out of the parking lot, receiving and delivering order after order.”

Walmart’s ambitious growth in its Spark delivery platform reveals cracks in its verification system, with drivers operating under multiple identities to monopolize deliveries. This not only undercuts genuine drivers, leading to reduced income opportunities, but also poses a significant safety risk to customers, as unverified drivers have access to sensitive delivery details. 

For a gigforce management platform like Gig Wage, these findings underscore the importance of rigorous vetting processes to ensure both driver and customer trust, underlining that rapid scaling should not compromise security and trust.

Full story: Walmart's delivery program is having an identity crisis. Some drivers aren't who they say they are

2. Gig Economy's rural revolution?

(Makena Kelly for The Verge)

“The US Department of Agriculture announced nearly $700 million in funding Monday to expand high-speed broadband access in rural communities across the country.”

This rural broadband funding will democratize access to the digital world. Over the next 5-10 years, we predict rural areas will witness a surge in gig economy participation, as more workers tap into online opportunities, breaking geographical barriers and ensuring inclusive economic growth.

While this news is exciting, we must be mindful of its nuances. As talent embraces online opportunities, we face potential pitfalls: over-reliance on tech, cultural shifts, and the inherent unpredictability of gig work. It's not an instant panacea; thoughtful implementation and ongoing support are crucial.

Full story: USDA announces $667 million in rural broadband funding

3. Amazon ‘lowballs’ independent creators

(Alex Barinka and Spencer Soper for Bloomberg)

“Amazon.com Inc., looking to amp up its TikTok-like shopping feed, has called on influencers to make hundreds of videos apiece. But its offer of $25 a pop — about a tenth of the going rate — was widely mocked on social media."

Bloomberg is reporting on Amazon’s $25-per-video influencer proposition feels severely undervalued when content creators are typically raking in $200 or more per piece. Gig economy workers, influencers included, deserve fair compensation for their craft. As Amazon attempts to pivot into the TikTok-like social commerce realm, offering competitive rates becomes table stakes to attract genuine and high-quality content. 

With platforms like TikTok showcasing the potential of integrating ecommerce and social media, undercutting influencer pay seems like a risky move for Amazon. The value of content creation goes beyond the immediate fee; it encompasses the time, expertise, and creativity of the creator. Let’s hope the gig economy can propel these talented individuals to the compensation they rightly deserve!

Full story: Amazon Offers Influencers $25 Per Video, Sparking Chorus of LOLs

4. Gig economy giants deliver big benefits boost

(Gig Worker Solutions & Openforce)

"We're breaking down barriers for gig economy workers in the delivery and transportation sectors," explains Ryan Leggett, CEO of Gig Worker Solutions. "By teaming up with Openforce, we're disrupting the benefits landscape, extending our reach to the approximately 74 million gig workers across the nation, and bringing them onto a level playing field."

When vendors like Gig Worker Solutions and Openforce team up, it signifies a major shift towards fairness in the gig economy. By offering the traditionally "reserved" benefits to independent contractors, they're not just bridging gaps; they're constructing a whole new infrastructure for the future of work.

Gig Wage applauds this move, recognizing the shared mission to uplift and empower the gig workforce!

Full story: Gig Worker Solutions and Openforce Partner to Enhance Benefits for Independent Contractors

5. HR: Gig Economy's game-changer?

(Jo Gallacher for HR Magazine)

"Gig workers keep our fast-paced lifestyles going. And it would be hypocritical to lambast poor working practices of gig economy employers while enjoying the benefits of their services."

Here’s a story emerging out of the UK. HR Magazine comments on the gig economy's continued scrutiny for inconsistent conditions and pay, but notes its flexibility is unmatched. With tens of millions of gig workers streamlining our daily life, it's long overdue time we pivot our perspective. The need for clarity in regulations is evident. 

So, is HR finally seeing the light? Because their influence could be transformative.

Full story: HR can help create ethical and equitable gig work


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