Gig Economy Journals - A day in their shoes - Elle Coates, Artist
What is 'gig economy' working really like and what are the opportunities and challenges for gig workers? This is part three in our series commissioned by the CIPD to study the lives of gig economy workers. It features Elle, an artist that uses services like TaskRabbit to supplement her income. You can read the whole piece over on the CIPD website, but here's a snippet.
I’m Elle Coates
I’m a working artist, in the sense that I’m an artist and I also work part-time or full-time hours to support my creative practice
"I graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2015 after completing a 4D Fine Art Course, which was like a film course. After that, I was offered an internship at a company that is like a women’s film archive, so I worked there and I was balancing three or four jobs.
When the internship ended, I was panicking about work, and after the Brexit vote, this added to my panic. Then this job in Switzerland came up which I did for around six months, working at a boarding school. I thought I was going to be an art technician, but when I got there, I was really disappointed that they wanted to push me into more pastoral stuff. I was working over 55 hours a week. I started actively looking for full-time jobs in London; I was so keen to come back. I had some interviews on Skype, but I had no luck.
I had planned not to leave the job in Switzerland until I had a job in London, but by February this year, I had to hand in my notice without another job lined up."
"The first thing I did when I came back was to apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance, but the application was rejected within two weeks because I hadn’t been living in the country long enough. I started to look into more full-time jobs, and signed back up to various online platforms: TaskRabbit (which I’d used a couple of times before), Register of Artist Models, Cat in a Flat and RentAFriend. I was just exploring as many avenues as I could to generate income because I had no money. So I was exploring these new work economies until I was able to find a full-time job."
"When you book and complete a job through TaskRabbit, the money is charged automatically. The client has no real choice, unless there was a serious dispute over hours or expenses. If you’re working privately, you’re waiting on money a bit more, and you have to chase it up. I only really have one person who hires me privately, and ultimately, I’ve felt safe when doing this private work. I was a little bit disappointed when the private client asked me to do something recently, and I spent hours doing it, but he didn’t pay me because he felt I didn’t do the job properly. I felt like his instructions weren’t clear."
"It’s a bit like Uber in a way: people want a service that’s much cheaper than a black cab. I think it’s the same on TaskRabbit: people just want to keep the cost as low as they can. If you’re going to ask for expenses, its best brought up in the chats before the job starts. Recently I did a job in Sidcup, which is over an hour away. The job took two and half hours, and he wanted me to charge him for two. Because of travel expenses, I couldn’t do that. When you do stuff like that, you’re worried the person is going to give you a bad rating. Is he going to make up that I did the work slowly? And I don’t feel like I can dispute a bad rating. You are silenced with that; you have no voice."