In a joint project, or policy lab, authorities and organizations work together to explore the new gig economy. They call themselves Giglab and map the challenges that the actors face in the gig economy. The purpose is to find new ways that can solve the problems that do not fit into systems and regulations.
It is about system mapping and design-driven processes, freelance gigs and platform companies. Giglab's ambition is to work for a sustainable growth of the gig economy in Sweden.
But what does it really mean? And how do the gigs get help?
Rebecca Filis, tax strategist and expert on sharing economics at the Swedish Tax Agency, explains the concepts and tells how they want to help the gigs and platform companies in the process, and the authorities in meeting new phenomena with existing regulations.
A gigger is a freelance person who works on the basis of assignments from various mediation platforms.
In an exploratory and creative work, Giglab questions the existing system and creates an open digital forum for new ways of collaborating. The goal is to make the new emerging labor market work for everyone. Giglab has been started on the initiative of the Swedish Tax Agency and Jobtech development at the Swedish Public Employment Service.
Rebecca Filis, tax strategist and expert on sharing economy
A freelance so-called giggler without his own company can run out dozens of bids with food, medicine and other orders without really knowing who the client is or in what way he will receive compensation for the transport. Both the gigger and the client may have questions that the regulations do not yet have answers to.
Capture the actors' questions
How do tax rules and working conditions for gigs work? Who guarantees the payment and is responsible for safety and working environment? How do I know as a bidder what I should set for eligibility requirements? And who will help me take responsibility in the right way if I am a platform owner?
These and many more issues related to intermediation platforms, networks, gigs and relevant authorities in the gig economy, Giglab has tried to turn around in the past year.
The employment service needs to know if they can refer jobseekers to gig platforms.
Both the Swedish Tax Agency and Jobbtech development within the Swedish Public Employment Service have over the years been commissioned to investigate how sharing economies affect the tax system.
The employment service needs to know, for example, whether they can refer jobseekers to platforms, and how those responsible for the platforms are affected.
The purpose of Giglab Sverige is to, based on a system approach and with service design as a tool, map the system to be able to see points of contact, common challenges and opportunities to solve tricky rule-related issues and societal challenges.
This type of platform does not look like the regulations are made for.
The focus has been on how the whole system works together with the various the actors, ie the gigs, the platforms and the authorities - and what affects what and who.
- We simply have to start by identifying all the different needs of the needs owners. The gigs were the main target group, but in order to solve their problems, we must involve the platform operators and identify the challenges they face.
This type of platform does not look like the regulations are made for. We have had difficulty controlling the area and did not receive the information we needed to support them. It is also difficult for the gigs to understand what should be taxed and how they should proceed. For example, who takes employer responsibility? Both sides face challenges that do not fit into the regulations today. We needed to address the real issues.
A good solution should work for all parties to be a more sustainable system for the gigs.
Digital forum where everyone can contribute
Even before the pandemic, we saw that the giant actors had difficulties with the regulations for tax, labor law rules, work environment and more. They had many questions and we had a plan for joint workshops and meetings. But when the pandemic became a fact in the spring of 2020, we had to change the entire planning and find a digital solution as a meeting place. It became the website giglabsverige.se. As the gig economy grew larger during the pandemic, our project became more and more relevant, which of course motivated us at work.
This is the map of the challenges we want to draw. The obstacles and problems that different actors face.
It has been difficult to reach the giants. And even more difficult to reach different authorities. We had no common space to share and create. In addition, we have experienced that it has been difficult for the platform company to comment on its challenges because they have a competitive situation in relation to other actors.
The solution was the common website. With the help of it, we also reached out to more gig groups that we have not had much contact with before.
Visit Giglab's digital forum for experiences about the gig economy.
In what way did you see that the authority could benefit from working with system mapping?
Above all, we saw that the administration for both us as a public authority and for the gigs out there could be simplified with a clearer and simpler regulatory framework for work and taxation.
How have you worked so far?
After a digital survey started on the site giglabsverige.se, a number of digital workshops were actors in the gig economy where the perspectives of the various actors were deepened.
We started by focusing on the main group - the problems of the gig actors and started to draw out what challenges they could encounter in their everyday lives. It became a kind of spider diagram where we clustered the different challenges and needs.
Very soon we realized that we can not solve the gigs 'problems if we do not at the same time get an understanding of the platforms' layout, focus, challenges and driving forces.
A solution must have several satisfied parties in order to work and we also need to involve those who have a mandate to influence the system.
Therefore, we also started a survey of the gig platforms' challenges and points of contact. It felt important to be able to lay the two target groups' grid of challenges on top of each other to see where the common knots in the regulations are.
Last but not least, we wanted to see the government perspective in the regulations for work and taxation.
No idea to find solutions before we understand the needs
We soon realized that we had to start by identifying the problems and goals before we could start working on solutions. So these first three sub-projects with the target groups of gigs, platforms and authorities actually resulted in proposals for various identified challenges that it is important to work on further.
Our results thus largely consist of an increased awareness and clearer ideas about what we can focus on in the next step. We know how we want to move forward.
One of the most clearly identified needs was, for example, that most people thought that the security systems or balances of power in the gig economy were the most important challenges.
The way to work a results in itself
It can be said that the way we learned to work in this project is a results in itself. Adopting a systems perspective was very different for us. So the work process itself and the method became an achieved objective in itself. The joint learning is a prerequisite and a results in itself.
We are at the beginning of a process where we have identified obstacles and challenges to work on - no ready-made solutions.
And we would like more people to take up this and continue working on the challenges we have found.
We have simply identified a smorgasbord of challenges to solve. Now the question is how do we spread knowledge about these needs and challenges.
We will never be able to work as before again.
We who participated in leading and implementing the project agree that we will not want or even be able to work in any other way in the future. We must see the context and the system when we try to solve a challenge.
Otherwise, the solution falls out of context and may not work in reality.
How will you continue to work with system mapping at the authority?
We want to pursue a couple of project based on the common challenges we have identified. It feels important that we get more parties from the user side so that as many points of view as possible are visible in the issues. The gig economy is certainly here to stay, so all parties have something to gain from resolving identified knots in systems and regulations regarding the challenges of the gigs, platforms and also the relevant authorities.
Now we want to prototype and test!
Now, together with the parties concerned, we want to start testing different ideas and solutions - prototype and test what works and gives us continued direction forward. For Jobtech development / Arbetsförmedlingen, for example, it may be about how the gigs should be able to take their data between the platforms.
The parties involved continue to work on various issues on their own, partly together with Vinnova. But we need to continue to keep Giglab Sverige alive as a policy lab.
We at the Swedish Tax Agency can further investigate our role in the security system in relation to other authorities and actors. How do we contribute through our mission, our role and with the information we have? How do we help other authorities in the ecosystem to be able to contribute to strengthening security for gigs through their assignments?
What is your main tip for an organization or public authority that wants to work with system mapping in this way?
Tried not to analyze but to state more.
Start with the needs and identify them. Do not think about the solution in the first place.
Just identifying issues can be a demanding job in itself.
And get in touch with Vinnova, especially if you work in a small organization. Then you can get clear tips on methods and working methods.
There are no given solutions for how the process should go. For us, it was a creative tentative where the methods emerged. Just knowing how to write the report based on an experimental work like this is a big challenge. How do I present the project and describe the working method? How do I visualize the system and the maps and spider diagrams we have worked with? Service design is a good tool and we received good support from the Renewal Lab (SVID) in this.
Simply get help and support. Kontakta Vinnova or the Renewal Lab (SVID).