Gig workers scramble to survive COVID-19 pandemic, Lindsey Cameron writes in Fast Company

August 17, 2020

Gig Work Used to Be a Recession-Proof Safety Net. Not Anymore,” Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) faculty affiliate Lindsey Cameron writes in Fast Company.

 In the article, Cameron and co-author Alex Rosenblat examine how more than 100 gig workers are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers find that many gig workers have shifted from high-contact services such as driving for Uber to low-contact services such as delivering groceries for Instacart. But health risks, decreased demand and increasing competition has made gig work overall less reliable than in the past.

“We found that workers are managing to stay afloat through a patchy network of gig work, unemployment insurance, and assistance from family and friends,” the researchers write. “These interrelated safety nets have been functioning as lifelines during a devastating period of uncertainty.”

Cameron and Rosenblat advocate for labor policy reforms to create a more reliable and consistent safety net for gig workers.

Cameron is an assistant professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a PhD in Management from the University of Michigan.