The New York Times article Working Anything But 9 to 5 covers the impact of erratic work schedules on low income parents.
The erratic schedules are due to labrometrics systems, which the article nicely describes as “software that choreographs workers in precise, intricate ballets, using sales patterns and other data” to figure out how many employees are needed day to day and hour by hour.
In other words, labormetrics systems are being used to turn traditional employees into on-call workers, who may or may work on a given day. Key quote from the article on the impact of these erratic schedules:
Yet those advances are injecting turbulence into parents’ routines and personal relationships, undermining efforts to expand preschool access, driving some mothers out of the work force and redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families, say parents, child care providers and policy experts.
Our workforce surveys and interviews have shown a clear increase in the number of on-call workers over the past 5 years.
We expect the number of on-call workers to continue to grow - the economics of labormetric system are simply too strong for their use not to expand.
Another group with alternative work relationships with their employers are people who work on fixed term contracts. Once limited to athletes, movie stars and senior executives, fixed term contract positions have become much more common across the economy.
For example, consulting firms and financial organizations now commonly hire people on contracts that run out in 2-3 years or less.
And these types of relationships are spreading to other industries.
Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn's founder, calls these types of assignments "tours of duty" and suggests 2 year contracts are the best type of employment relationship.
People working on-call and on fixed term contracts are mostly counted as traditional employees in government statistics.
But these people know they aren't traditional employees. In interviews they self-describe as independent workers who move from gig to gig. Because of this, we include them as independent workers in our studies.