The Institute for the Future's (IFTF) Workable Futures: People Transforming Work in the Platform Economy describes 7 "archetypes" of on-demand economy (ODE) workers and their motivations for working in the ODE.
To develop these archetypes, IFTF conducted in-depth ethnographic interviews with 31 workers across a range of ages and socio-economic backgrounds.
The 7 archetypes are:
- The Part-Time Pragmatist, who doesn’t see online platforms versus conventional employment as a fork-in-the-road decision but adds platform opportunities to traditional work.
- The Savvy Consultant, previous white-collar workers who see growth and opportunity, as well as freedom, in the on-demand economy.
- The Freelancer who wants the luxury of choice in weaving together assignments based on personal values.
- The Full-Time Gig Worker who maximizes efficiency by focusing on a single app—the closest thing to employees in the on-demand world.
- The Re-Entry Worker who uses platform work as a tool of resilience to ease them back into earning income while taking care of their health and well-being.
- The Entrepreneur who looks to incorporate a platform into their own entrepreneurial vision and desire for growth.
- The Hustler who doesn’t fit the mold of a full-time job—whether it’s due to a criminal past, a career aspiration or temperament. The Hustler searches for alternative income streams that fit into a flexible, unscheduled lifestyle.
What's interesting is the two sets of faces/archetypes were developed using very different methodologies.
As stated above, IFTF used ethnography to develop their archetypes. We used statistical clustering based on the results of a survey of about 4500 on-demand economy workers.
That the two approaches led to similar results shows that a clear picture of on-demand economy work and workers is emerging.
We're currently in the field with this year's On-Demand Economy survey. We are again partnering with Intuit and a dozen on-demand economy companies on this project. We'll be releasing the results of this study later this year.