Why crowd workers solutions are not working

Why crowd workers solutions are not working

Crowd workers solutions have been gaining in popularity. The digital age that we live in has created a host of tools that act as matchmakers in the process and bring workers and employers together. Somewhat like a matchmaking service with a specific purpose. Clickworker, Upwork, and Freelancer are examples of these matchmaking services.

It is also known as crowdsourcing. It is also sometimes used interchangeably with freelancing.

oWorkers has risen to be one of the top three providers in its chosen space of providing data-based services to its global set of cross-industry clientele. That this distinction was achieved in under ten years is something we are really proud of.


What can be done through crowd workers solutions

Though theoretically anything could be done using the crowd sourcing method, typically the performance of micro tasks has gained popularity. It could also be seen as the ‘piece work’ system of yore in a new avatar. And it is usually possible to break down each task or job into micro components that could be performed with different skills and interests.  

The publisher of a requirement, or employer, usually initiates the process by advertising it in places where they believe suitable candidates will be able to access it.

It could be an open offer for people meeting defined criteria to proceed with the task, submit proof of completion, and get paid, if payment is involved. It could also be unpaid, collaborative work. As an example, an agency working on tracking the population of a particular bird species could invite enthusiasts to click and submit pictures as and when they sighted one.

Or, it could be a more managed task where applicants interested need to apply and get selected before the work can begin, more akin to a hiring process, but abbreviated. This is how most of the platforms operate.

Many information processing tasks that can be done with a computer and an internet connection can be handled, such as image labeling, translation, transcription, writing, and even coding.

If it needs to be done, it needs to be done well and done fast. With delivery centers in different parts of the world that are equipped to operate on a 24×7 schedule throughout the year, oWorkers creates unparalleled turnaround time options for clients. Not only do clients benefit from time zone differences, but they can also leverage our facilities to do work fast.


What does it do for the employer?

The objective of using this method is the classical objective of all businesses; finding the best value.

There are always two sides to a story and choice. What is good for the goose may not be so for the gander. Companies evaluate each decision and its bearing on the eventual goals of the company.

While the traditional form of employment is a natural go-to option for most tasks, organizations have been looking beyond the standard solutions in their ongoing bid for profit maximization. Sometimes the evaluation leads them to deploy crowd workers solutions to meet their work needs.

Identifying and using talent through this mechanism usually works out cheaper for organizations that use it on a regular basis. Hiring through regular employment channels takes much longer and turns out to be more expensive. It becomes much more expensive when we consider that hired hands may also be idle or under-employed during certain periods while being paid a full salary.

Though for-profit organizations may not care for it, crowdsourcing also acts as an equalizing influence around the world by creating opportunities for members of less privileged societies to get more work.

Even for people offering themselves for work through this medium, it creates opportunities they would otherwise not have access to, at rates they could only dream of earlier.

oWorkers prides itself on creating the ‘preferred employer’ niche for itself in each delivery location. This has created a steady and permanent stream of talent looking for employment opportunities. It provides oWorkers the choice to bring the most suitable talent for each of its client’s needs based on project requirements.


Limitations of the approach

The benefits of crowd workers solutions, both for employers as well as the employed, are evident. However, for organizations considering or using this method of getting work done, it is even more important to recognize the limitations. If they continue to still rely on the channel, it should be that, on the balance, it works out beneficial, rather than doing so without recognizing the challenges and going in with high expectations only to be disappointed later.

What are the limitations that companies should be aware of?

Absence of infrastructure

Individuals joining up for a cause or task are just that, individuals. They do not have the scale and organizational ability of an organization. There is a good reason that the joint stock corporation was created several hundred years back. It could pool resources and create infrastructure at a scale that was not possible for others.

The individuals signing up will bring their own, wide variety of devices, skills, and knowledge to the table. They may, or may not have the network at their place of work to enable them to do a stable job. They may not have the space and privacy to be able to participate in business meetings. Power failures, data security, and device malfunctioning are among the many challenges they could face and force the recruiter relying on crowdsourcing to face too.

As a leader in the industry, oWorkers has shown the way in many spheres. It has developed deep relationships with IT industry leaders which allows it access to the latest tools and technologies, even for deploying them on client projects.

Inability to control behavior and output

Though virtual work has been in existence for many years, it picked up speed during the time of Covid-19 when it became impossible to collect together in large numbers and access workplaces as a result of lockdown rules in place. Many new tools and technologies also surfaced, or resurfaced, that made virtual work easier.

Some of the challenges with virtual work have persisted. While virtual work is now a part of the options considered by many corporations, many are choosing to get employees gradually back into the workplace.

Why is that the case?

Without a line of physical oversight, it becomes extremely difficult to manage, especially in cases where the task cannot be separated out and measured purely in terms of transparent output and quality.

How do you ensure that they are focusing on work and not doing another job in parallel?

How do you ensure that the company’s decorum with regard to interactions and people is respected and followed?

Such questions are causing a rethink.

While oWorkers has pioneered the technology and processes to operate from anywhere during the pandemic, as the employer, it has continued to monitor performance closely. It pays social and local taxes for its staff and is rated above,4.6, on a scale of 5, by its employees, both past and present, on external platforms such as Glassdoor.

Unreliable resource pool

Theoretically, crowd workers solutions can open a wide world and provide access to talent that would not have been in consideration otherwise. It also seems that this provides a great option for scaling the work. Hire more when you need more and either let go or hire less when you need less.

As per the experience of many relying upon this channel for talent, it seems to be more of an imagined benefit.

There is a good reason for it.

The resources signing up are also looking for the flip side of the coin. If the company is looking for lowering its labor cost, they are trying to maximize their income. As they are not employees, they really are not steeped in the culture and brand of the organization, and neither does the employer take the trouble to build that. They can jump ship at the slightest provocation, the most common being the availability of better remuneration elsewhere.

Hence, this resource pool can also deplete rapidly, jeopardizing projections and plans.

oWorkers has inured itself from the vagaries of a fluctuating manpower supply situation. In fact, oWorkers is one of the few BPOs that can drum up additional resources within a short time, in case client engagements face unexpected or unplanned volume spikes. It can hire almost a hundred resources with a notice of just about two days.

Untrained and un-onboarded workers create dissonance and rework

There are good reasons recruitment processes take time and corporations invest in the onboarding and training of new hires.

Human beings are a key resource and expected to contribute to the goals of the company. Hence, it is important that they feel comfortable and others feel comfortable with them. The process of hiring and onboarding is intended to identify suitable people and then provide a soft landing for them so that they can be of long-term value.

Crowd workers solutions are the antithesis of this philosophy. They do away with the niceties of identifying the right profile and even providing training to them. The engagement is expected to be task-based and only the requisite skills should sign up.

That being said, every organization has a unique way of doing things. Different companies in one industry may have widely different KPIs, or processes and systems used. Without onboarding and training, friction can be created in the work done by these resources with the rest, which often takes time and cost to resolve, which is needless overhead.

Not only are its employees properly trained, oWorkers also creates opportunities for learning from each other. Having long followed the principle of a multinational and multicultural team, oWorkers has got multilingual as a return gift. It can offer services in over 20 languages.

Quality of resources usually sub-par

There are articles and stories about the new breed of employee who is not afraid to work on his/her own terms and is preferring the flexibility provided by platform-based options. That could be true, but seemingly the numbers that make up this breed are small.

For the larger set of people interested in employment, in addition to ensuring that the brand they are associated with is suitable and the role they have makes sense, it seems that stability of employment continues to be important. As an employee, I would rather spend my time doing productive work rather than doing unproductive work like looking for work. Which is what happens in the case of non-employment solutions.

The result?

The best workers look for regular jobs and get hired. Companies generating human resources through crowdsourcing will end up fishing in a pool from which the healthiest fish have already been drawn. They will not come for work that is a task and not a career option.

With oWorkers, clients get the best workers with the best facilities. Data is secure when it is worked on in the Super secure facilities & protocols of oWorkers that are also ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified. What is more, they are also GDPR compliant.

Low barrier to default

In most cases, each engagement is of a small value. The value is usually so small that there is unlikely to be an interest on part of either party to seriously pursue a claim for any damages. The maximum one loses is the amount for that particular transaction.

From an organizational perspective, this creates a low barrier to default. Workers can sign up but not complete the assigned work. They rarely have the initiative to organize themselves into a structure that attracts the interest of other regulatory bodies such as those that govern corporate affairs in the jurisdiction.

That our efforts are bearing fruit is evident in the pricing we are able to offer to clients. The industry-leading pricing is an outcome of our consistent all-round excellence in practices. For example, our image as a desirable employer attracts job seekers to us, saving us advertising expense to attract employees.


Final word

Though it is becoming popular, risks abound for companies interested in leveraging its benefits.  

For people offering their services to seekers of crowd workers solutions, there is a different set of challenges. Not being employees of either the company or platform, they cannot avail of benefits like minimum wages, health insurance, and paid leave. They are defined as a business and are left to fend for themselves.

The result is that the jobs or tasks for which the channel is used tend to be peripheral and not core tasks.

oWorkers has followed a consistent policy of working with employed staff, while some of our competitors have experimented with contractual and freelance staff. Our choice requires greater management, with hiring, onboarding, training, performance tracking, career progression, and other responsibilities, we believe it produces better results for us and for our clients.

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