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What drives demand for online gig workers? NASA’s drive for innovation

Companies are more and more utilizing on-line gig work for duties akin to graphic design or internet growth that employees ship on-line utilizing primarily digital instruments. Copyright: Shutterstock

When NASA teamed up with Harvard College in 2010 to create the NASA Event Lab (NTL), they by no means anticipated that the collaboration would possibly affect NASA’s staffing and procurement processes. The NTL started off as a set of contests on online gig platforms to create innovative solutions for NASA’s real-world challenges. Nonetheless, by way of the NTL, NASA accessed unbiased freelancers with experience and new concepts that they might not get by way of conventional procurement and recruiting practices.

Following NTL’s success in launching 300 tasks between 2011 and 2020, NASA built-in crowdsourcing innovation into its core enterprise. NASA presently makes use of a contract with 32 crowd platforms, permitting it to entry as much as 120 million on-line gig employees.

NASA: one in every of many organizations growing demand for on-line gig work

A growing number of firms use online gig work for tasks such as graphic design or web development that workers deliver online using mainly digital tools.  In keeping with World Financial institution estimates from its current report, Working without Borders: The Promise and Peril of Online Gig Work, demand for gig work elevated 41% between 2016 and the primary quarter of 2023. Elevated demand can be mirrored within the speedy progress in international on-line gig platforms: the ILO reports that between 2010 and 2020, the number of platforms tripled.

On-line labor demand index, 2016 (Q2) – 2023 (Q1)

Supply: Research group illustration primarily based on OLI knowledge.
Be aware: Index = 100 on June 1, 2016.

Why are corporations and organizations turning to on-line gig work?

The identical World Bank report performed a world survey of over 1,100 corporations primarily based on social media and focused e-mail outreach, offering a snapshot of why corporations rent by way of gig platforms. As mirrored within the chart under, key drivers embody:    

  1. Entry to wider vary of expertise: In keeping with the report, the primary motive corporations rent gig employees is to entry particular abilities that they lack in-house, with 60% of corporations selecting this selection (see Determine under). Within the case of NASA, the abilities of freelancers have met or exceeded expectations in 92% of tasks. In keeping with John Vickers, NASA Principal Technologist, “The ultimate designs [of solutions developed through NTL] are superb. They’re far past our present state of information and can vastly affect our lunar and Mars mission structure for manufacturing and development.”
  2. Value flexibility: Nearly half of corporations pointed extra versatile costing choices than hiring everlasting workers as one more reason to rent gig employees. These results are consistent with findings from the NTL, with cost savings for 80% of crowdsourcing projects. Specifically, startups and small enterprises worth value effectiveness, particularly in early levels after they battle to determine their enterprise fashions.
  3. Flexibility in labor activity and time allocation: On-line gig platforms permit corporations to adapt to speedy modifications in market tendencies. As an example, 84% of corporations rent gig employees for duties that last as long as one month, and 96% for duties that last as long as six months. For NASA, this flexibility has allowed individuals with totally different backgrounds to take part in technical and nontechnical duties together with ideation, system structure design, algorithm efficiency enchancment, software program and functions growth, graphics, and video work.
  4. Time saving in procurement: NASA’s expertise demonstrates the time saved utilizing gig employees. Conventional procurement for NASA and different US federal businesses takes about 9 months to a yr; with NASA’s present contract with gig platforms, the entire course of for a selected project may be accomplished inside 3-4 weeks.

Causes to rent gig employees in accordance with agency surveys

Supply: Working without Borders: The Promise and Peril of Online Gig Work

NASA as a case examine of elevated demand for on-line gig work

Companies are in search of methods to stay agile and price efficient to adapt to speedy shifts out there. As NASA illustrates, online gig platforms help firms reduce transaction costs to overcome traditional hiring constraints and access a wider talent pool to drive innovation.   Elevated use of digital labor platforms as a part of recruitment practices is remodeling the way in which work is contracted, carried out, managed, and remunerated. Coverage makers should sustain with these labor market tendencies to make sure the well-being of employees whereas permitting the flexibleness, entry to expertise, and innovation that corporations and organizations like NASA worth.

This weblog is a part of a Brief Notes sequence that explores findings from the World Financial institution report “Working Without Borders: The Promise and Peril of Online Gig Work.”


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