What is platform economy, how does it relate to me and my work? This is the wonderment of many employees and experts with high education.
The platform economy is already here and undoubtedly becomes more and more common in the future work. In a big picture, the platform economy is a part of broader work and working life change caused by technological advances and digitalisation. This is both an opportunity and a challenge. In one way or another it affects each of us.
The work methods, the place and the work communities change, and simultaneously they change the structure of the labour market. The ability to adapt and learn new will be even more emphasized. The aim of Akava (Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland) is a work life where work is successful and good. We must have a humane and safe working life in which changes can be met without fear. Much said and demanded – but realizable.
The work life consists of a number of fragments that make the work either good or nightmare. These dimensions include education and skills development, vocational training, work methods and conditions, workmates, livelihood, social security, health care and welfare, and the opportunity to reconcile work and family life. Life is balanced when the pieces fall in to place.
Desires, needs and demands for work vary in different phases of life. Work life and work should be such that it enables a flexible combination of different forms of work. At the same time, social security, employment services and the opportunity to study carry over the potential unemployment phase until a new job is found.
The change and diversity of work life are a challenge for the labour market, both for the employee movement and for the employer. Proactive thinking, development and responsiveness to the needs of the parties are required. More and more employees will assess the work and livelihood, depending on whether the work is significant, flexible enough and worthwhile in relation to time and energy that are used to it. The opportunity to develop own skills throughout career is becoming increasingly important, which is beneficial both for the employee and the employer.
As a research sample, Akava and around 20 member unions participated in SWiPE’s research project, which explored how the trends of changing work, especially the platform economy, have an impact on expert work. Through research, we received more information about how the members of Akava, who work as experts, use new digital tools and platforms in their work. According to the results, the work done on platforms is still very rare for earning purposes. In terms of attitudes and interests, however, the readiness for it is evident. Based on the results of the research, we are able to improve member services and can use the information to support lobbying and influencing. The aim is to develop the legislation of work life, social security and education in such a way, that they will be more responsive to more diverse work.
Anu Tuovinen works as a senior adviser in Akava.
Translation by Marja Rautajoki.