Are you looking for a job but want the flexibility to work from home? Or are you running a business, and want to hire someone to perform some important but relatively short and menial tasks that your other employees are too busy to do? Then this article explains how microtasks might be something you’ll want to know more about.
What are microtasks?
As the term implies, a microtask is a job that takes little time to complete – often taking 5 minutes or less – that may or may not require expert skills. Typically, these are tasks that an individual could apply for online, without needing educational credentials.
There are many reasons why people may apply for microtasks. It could be an individual who can’t find a job and needs money urgently or a carer who would benefit from flexible working and earn money around their daily responsibilities. It could even be someone that wants to do something extra to pass the time whilst being paid. One of the great things about delivering microtasks is that you can work to your own schedule, pick the jobs that you fancy, and it’s YOU making the choices, not a boss.
There are many tasks a microtask user could complete these include:
- Responding to surveys
- Participating in experiments
- Viewing content on websites
- Collecting data
What’s driving the demand?
As a result of Covid-19, we were forced to stay at home, and businesses suffered, in most cases, struggling to fund their employees. This lead to unemployment reaching an all-time high in the US, with more than 14 million people unemployed. Demand for jobs grew, and those affected by unemployment in Covid-19 had little money to fund their bills.
For those struggling with money, unable to leave the house to work, microtasks came in handy. They could use a microtask platform to find a source of income, and they could work on their terms.
Over the last few months, economies have rebounded and demand for skills has grown. Nevertheless, few employers are keen to take on full-time workers unless they have to. Others are getting used to handing out microtask work, finding it to be convenient.
What are the benefits?
Microtasks provide many benefits to those who use them, for both the employer and employee. Here’s a list of the top benefits of using microtasks.
The flexibility of work has become more important in recent years, with a focus on balancing work and home life. As more people prioritize their mental health and home life, there is a growing desire for flexible working. What better way to do that than by using a microtask platform? You get to work when you want, you pick your tasks, and you can work at your own pace. Additionally, microtask contractors get to work from home which is why 22% say they have joined these platforms. For those with other commitments at home like caring for a child, a parent, or a grandparent, micro-tasks are an income lifeline. So, if your job is not paying enough this could be an extra source of income to fill gaps when you are not otherwise working.
On the contractor side, one of the great things about microtasks is that there isn’t a judgment based upon your gender, age, race, or social-economic status. Instead, the non-biased hiring makes it that nearly anyone can apply, the only requirement being that workers have access to a computer and can connect to the internet. With microtasks you can develop new skills in IT, making this a learning opportunity for those who may want to pursue a career in IT or Tech. You don’t need a large amount of knowledge in one area to get started. You have the opportunity to develop your skills while at the same time making a buck.
So, what technology is available to employers to extend their workforce information systems to cover the needs of a permanent contingent workforce representing anything up to half of their resourcing capacity? Here’s a quick run down.
Paying for results:
Businesses like to offer work out as microtasks because it allows them to get jobs done faster, and pay for results, not hours worked. The ‘guarantee’ businesses get from microtask platforms is that they don’t pay unless they receive work done to a satisfactory standard. There is nothing in any way ambiguous about this transaction: the contractor does the work, submits it, the buyer checks it, agrees to pay, sends money—done! Consider how this compares to hiring people to perform jobs at an hourly rate. It is far less clear how and when jobs are done, or that the quality of work is good enough. That represents lots of extra risks, added to which are the high costs of employment, and the risks that come with employment, or hiring contractors on short- mid-and long-term contracts.
Concerning this Matthew Wagner, the General Manager of EMEA at Simplify says, “Client goals have shifted to focus on outcomes. In order to achieve those strategic outcomes, clients need to accomplish a series of microtasks. More and more, companies are looking to outsource these microtasks that are outside their company core skills.
For example, a manufacturing company might be looking to complete rebranding to increase profits. That company looks to get microtasks, like video animation, online logos, etc… created by outside contractors. This trend is increasing at the same time people are doing more project, or microtask, work for many companies in a year.”
Microtask working is extremely time-efficient. Contractors have clear goals, and are highly motivated, while businesses get the tasks they need completing done in super-quick timeframes.
Think about the psychology of the contractors: Seeing a handful of tasks that you know will take a few minutes each to complete looks much less daunting than facing up to a full-time role with all the stress, pressures, and commitments that entails. If you’re like most other digital natives, you’ll want to get a job done, get paid, and move on. As humans, our attention span can be counted in seconds not hours. Since 2000, our attention span has now fallen to 8 seconds; that’s less than a goldfish. On average, it takes 25 minutes to resume a task once you have been distracted, and in the office, there are easy distractions.
Using a microtask platform, you can work from home, and the distractions that present themselves in an office may not arise. Additionally, even if you do get distracted, it could be easier to get your motivation back to get another microtask done, compared to the alternative of working for hours on the same activity.
An experiment conducted by the Microsoft Research team found that breaking huge tasks into microtasks resulted in them being completed quicker and to a better quality. This is a huge benefit for the companies using microtask software, as they would complete it quicker at a lower pay rate than your average employee. Which would you prefer a task to be completed quicker and with better results or have it completed at a slower pace? The answer is a no-brainer.
Final thoughts/Simplify Hire:
For workers, there are clear benefits to getting onboard with microtasks. While joining up to one of the various microtask platforms might not be for everyone, for some, it provides the perfect work-life balance they’ve been looking for.
For companies, microtasks are an easy and cost-effective way to get jobs done—on time, on budget, to an acceptable quality, without the hassle of hiring workers, dealing with time-to-fill issues, coping with the stresses of employment law, compliance, potential disputes, and everything else that comes with getting work resourced.
We think microtask platforms are a keystone of the future of work, where workers have more control over their employment, and companies see higher levels of productivity. By embracing new models of hiring there is the potential for workers and businesses to achieve a Win: Win from a new kind of job market that never existed a decade ago.