This study examines key concepts related to the future of work. This research offers a historical overview of remote work, the gig economy, and the sharing economy, depicting their evolution as disruptors to the “traditional” labour market and economy. Key concepts related to these developments include the uptake of remote work, digital platforms facilitating gig work, the nature of high-skilled vs. lower-skilled gig work in Canada and internationally, global competition and generational trends in gig work, regulatory needs, along with the growth of the sharing economy and essential platforms that drive use and consumer demand.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has undoubtedly caused ripples across the gig economy and the sharing economy while shifting mass remote work from a possibility to a need. In March 2020, countries around the world began transitioning their businesses and employees from in-person in-office structures to remote operations. While COVID-19 has been a catalyst for mass remote work experimentation, it has also raised important questions about the challenges of remote work, precarious gig employment, regulatory needs of both the sharing and gig economy, and growing class divides and socioeconomic fissures between those capable of remote work and those who are not.

This study was completed in May 2020. While it forms a foundational structure upon which to continue to analyze the evolution of the future of work, more research will be required to fully explore the impacts of COVID-19 on the gig economy and the sharing economy. ICTC will continue tracking trends, analyzing not only COVID-19’s implications for the economy and labour market but also the emergence and adoption of key technologies that will support the future of work in a period of economic recovery.

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To cite this report:

Cutean, A., Herron, C., Quan, T. (July 2020). Loading: The Future of Work: Worldwide Remote Work Experimentation and the Evolution of the Platform Economy. Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC). Ottawa, Canada.

Designed by Raymond Brand.