As our economy is increasingly 24:7 more people are working night shifts, often in the gig economy, and these important workers are often forgotten when it comes to measures to support peoples wellbeing. While they keep the economy running, these workers also experience very limited access to infrastructures offered by the cities.
The Guardian reports that the gig economy has left many workers without easy access to staff rooms, toilets, and opportunities to meet each other. Many fast-food delivery drivers congregate on city streets near busy pick-up zones in between shifts and for breaks, where they can be exposed to poor weather and aggressive passersby. Some are ordered to wait hundreds of metres away from restaurants until the order is ready.
In order to better support these workers, Think Tank Automony is calling for ‘nocturnal commons’ to be set up which will provide space and services specifically for night-time workers. According to the report, 1 in 9 people in the UK work at night – the highest proportion of the workforce since ONS records began in 2005. Autonomy proposes that the ‘nocturnal commons’ could be funded by a collaboration of employers together with local authorities.
In addition to gig workers, the report identifies 1.2m people doing shift work in warehouse, retail, transport and storage industries, plus over 406k migrant domestic care workers as key elements of the night time economy. A large number of these workers are not permanent employees, and here at IWORK we support any initiative that improves outcomes for this important workforce. Whether or not you agree with the specific proposals, it is inarguable that night-workers are often overlooked but they certainly shouldn’t be.