Future of Work in a Digital Era: The Potential and Challenges for Online Freelancing and Microwork in India

The traditional imagery of “labour” as referring to the hedgehog grind is giving way to a freer way to work, enabled by the ever increasing digitization that threatens to replace labour as we have known it for centuries. Bots or software designed to automate certain functions are the most visible and popular manifestation of the attempts to simulate certain simple human interactions such as scheduling meetings and discovering prices of flights and hotels to name a few. As technology becomes functionally mature, bots will turn into more intelligent beasts capable of disrupting even the more cognitive tasks performed today by humans. Given the technological dynamic nature of societies and economies, it is natural for labour markets to have undergone momentous change. Beginning with the Neolithic Revolution that transformed agriculture, the Industrial Revolution that transformed large scale manufacturing and gave rise to the modern city, we are now in the throes of a digital revolution that is yet anticipated to be the most disruptive in its effect on the labour market. Each technological disruption has constantly redefined the role workers and “labour” play in the economy, along with regulations that describe the institutional structure of the market. For the record, labour force of an economy includes all those who are actively looking to work for a living as distinguished from those who are not expected to work, children, old persons etc or have voluntarily dropped out of the labour force.