Information technology has proven to be an important part of the solution for problems that have always been there. For example the mobile phone made people more available to loved ones. Internet shops made it easier to compare goods and prices from stuff they want to buy. Search engines bring you almost any information you need within a blink and blogging service providers lead a revolution of who is able to provide you with this information (everybody!). But those new technologies of course also provide opportunities to cope with challenges just emerging in an ever changing world.
When I looked for local projects that seemed worthy of being mentioned on this TEDxVienna blog, I stumpled upon work.io. “work|i|o is about changing the world of work“, Luca Hammer, an acquaintance of mine and part of the team behind it, told me. In this world, the team sees new challenges arise. Being employed lost many of its former attractions like its long-term security. “Often you are just like a replaceable cog in the wheel of a big machine”, he says.
That leads many people into becoming freelancers. “You are your own boss then. But that leaves you with a lot of tasks, which you neither are good at, nor like – for example acquiring customers, writing offers or enforcing payments. Also freelancing comes with a dependency on steady customers”, Luca explains. Bigger companies on the other hand would no longer reach many talents and have to invest lots of resources in finding adequate freelancers for certain tasks. Often this process consumes more energy and money than the actual task, Luca argues.
work|i|o want to vastly reduce the amount of time and energy that a freelancer spends with applying for project openings or companies have to use when looking for people that fit their individual tasks. The team tries to provide all parties with an easy-to-use, fast solution. Companies provide tasks and set a price they are willing to pay, workers can take care of them without lengthy application processes. Every time the user accepts a task, the platform will learn and recognize, what he or she is good at, thereby giving better results next time and optimizing the recommendations for companies equally. “We believe, everybody is an expert in some areas“, Luca told me.
Obstacles to overcome
As is the crux with progress, simultaneous to providing new solutions, it also provides us with new challenges. All services I mentioned before also brought up some new problems. Mobile phones are now setting the standards for availability – many cannot afford easily to be unavailable anymore. Internet shops put pressure on local businesses. Search engines also throw a lot of wrong information at you – for example some blogs with questionable content.
work|i|o is no exception. It is for example in danger of contributing to a culture of wage dumping, and thereby more benefiting the employers than the providers of work. But the team behind it is aware of that. They know that their project will only succeed, if the platform is able to work the other way around: Matching better paid tasks with the person most interested / capable.
Still, as seems to be a regular feature in our more and more liberalized economic world, it will take a minimum amount of self-responsibility of all involved parties to evade that problem.
work|i|o is planned to go into a world-wide public beta phase in two months. It will concentrate on information-based work in the beginning – like analysis or research. It will be interesting to see, if technology is able to ease the problems of people once again.