Microworking in the UK- Here’s What You Need To Know

What had once started in the US, has slowly become a worldwide phenomenon. In the world of ever-rising prices, job seekers have now turned to microwork. But, what exactly is microwork? It is essentially described as a small job that’s part of a bigger project. These jobs are mostly advertised on dedicated microwork platforms and are remote.

Microwork jobs are not time-consuming or even mentally taxing. They can range from data entry for a company to something as small as filling out a survey. However, the problem with this sort of arrangement is two-fold:

  1. Not all jobs pay minimum wage (it can be as low as £0.10 per job)
  2. There is a serious question mark over the legitimacy of these jobs

With two major reasons dangling over the concept of microworking, why is it spreading like wildfire? Let’s get a little deeper into this.

Why Choose Microwork?

On paper, it sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime —being able to work based on your convenience. In fact, a recent investigation by Autonomy revealed that people prefer microwork because it allows them to earn extra from the comfort of their home. Moreover, the pandemic shut people in their homes, and microworking was an excellent way to pass the time.

Microworking has also become a great way for women to earn more money, especially mothers and women with no formal education. While most working mothers have maternity leave to fall back on, it is only if they are previously employed. For non-employed women, taking up remote work that takes close to 20 mins a day for extra money is, theoretically, the best of both worlds.

The Rise of UK Microworkers

There are no set number or type of people in the UK who are taking up microworking. The demographic ranges in age, gender, ethnicity and education. However, the report by Autonomy states that people who take up microworking in the UK are doing it as a side job.

This is quite different from some of the other parts of the world such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan where microworking can be a main source of income. But with the contrasting takes, the one thing that remains common is that these jobs don’t pay well.

The Autonomy report states that most of jobs pay much lesser than minimum wage. And while these jobs are much less taxing than physical labour, they are not enough to pay the bills. So why keep on working? For some, it is a matter of not just earning money, but being a part of something. In a survey conducted by Autonomy, some participants revealed that they wouldn’t mind working even if it doesn’t pay.

The Issues with Microwork

Even though microworking is problematic, it is becoming increasingly popular. And, with the popularity its gaining, why put an end to it? Here’s why: the work platforms are faulty. On these platforms, the longer the job is, the more money you can make. However, on most occasions, those jobs aren’t available. This leaves many workers with smaller jobs that barely pay more than £3.

Plus, according to the Autonomy report, the biggest issue microworkers face is spending a chunk of time looking for work. Most people turned to microwork during the pandemic for a multitude of reasons. And while some get a decent amount of money for the work they do; others don’t feel the same way. The number of jobs available on every site, at least the ones that pay over £15, is drastically inconsistent.

Moreover, there is no guarantee that these jobs are legitimate and will ultimately pay. Some microwork platforms ask you to download apps or play games, but in the end, there is no money (or even a gift card). Many surveys on these platforms lead to dead ends and potentially leave bugs on your device. For someone with no actual knowledge about how these platforms work, these jobs can be an actual threat.

Is there a Solution?

For the most part, no. These platforms are online with no one true employer and jobs that vary in duration, pay and location. However, with microworking becoming a global phenomenon, making better-paying jobs available is one solution.

A participant in one of the surveys by Autonomy suggests that they should be paid for the time they spend on the site. This makes sense because these microworking sites guarantee there is a job for everyone available, but that is far from the truth. At least this way, they are being paid for spending their valuable time.

Autonomy also suggests a change in laws. Microworkers need to be given a proper employment status as well as rights to protect themselves. And while this is a great strategy, the platforms first need to better themselves. That is the only way they can offer more to the microworkers, not just in the UK but globally.

Read the whole report by Autonomy here