Introducing the Fairwork Cloudwork Initiative

Posted on 05.07.2024

A joint working group Fairwork started with platform companies to improve conditions of online work

Around the world, hundreds of millions of workers now offer their services online via “cloudwork” (online remote work) platforms. According to one recent estimate from the World Bank, between 154 million and 435 million workers worldwide have accounts on these platforms – and many of them rely on this work for their livelihoods. 

Cloudworkers face many challenges and harms associated with their jobs, including low pay, precarity, health and safety risks, unfair management processes and a lack of representation. However, the conditions of work vary quite significantly across platforms. As the Fairwork Cloudwork Scorings from 2021, 2022, and 2023 have shown, not all platforms are created equal.  

As part of its action-research approach, Fairwork has been engaging with cloudwork platforms for more than three years. In addition to working with companies to gather evidence as part of the annual scoring efforts, this has been an opportunity to encourage them to make pro-worker changes to their policies and practices.  

In recent months, Fairwork has deepened its collaboration with seven cloudwork companies: Appen, Comeup, CreativeWords, Elharefa, Prolific, Terawork, and Translated. These platforms are participating in a joint initiative to promote knowledge sharing around how to best align company practices with the Faiwork Cloudwork Principles.   

As part of this initiative, managers from each of the participating platform companies will meet regularly, together with members of the Fairwork research team, to discuss best practices for implementing pro-worker changes and commitments into their policies and practices.  

The outcomes of these discussions should inform the platforms’ internal discussions and, hopefully, result in concrete changes in their rules that benefit workers and address challenges workers face in their daily experiences on the platforms. Moreover, the approaches developed by this working group can be used as guidelines and examples for other cloudwork platforms.  

“Although most online remote work platforms are unable to evidence that even basic minimum standards of pay, conditions, and rights are guaranteed for workers, we want to demonstrate how fair cloudwork is an attainable goal”, explained Jonas Valente, the Fairwork Cloudwork lead researcher.