Market Volume is the Force (FT Press Delivers Elements)

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And what they are rebelling against is an app update. But as customer demand increased, the company began to reduce pay. By August, the couriers were on a piece rate with a fiddly formula: Then, one day, the couriers woke up to find the app had been updated again. Outside those periods, it had been cut altogether. Like many experienced couriers, he left his job with a different delivery company because Uber was offering better pay. Imran Siddiqui, one of the leaders of the protest, says he feels bad because he had encouraged other couriers to sign up for UberEats before they changed the pay.

But the couriers have an idea. They open their apps as customers and order food to be delivered to them. As UberEats couriers arrive with pizzas at the place their app has sent them, the strikers tell them about the protest and urge them to join in. Buff Dormeier: Books, Biography, Blogs, Audiobooks, Kindle

Algorithmic management, meet algorithmic rebellion. Those deploying algorithmic management say it creates new employment opportunities, better and cheaper consumer services, transparency and fairness in parts of the labour market that are characterised by inefficiency, opacity and capricious human bosses. They might be free to choose when to work but not how to work or, crucially, how much they are paid. Bhone Kyaw has been standing around on the street for half an hour when his phone chirrups. Kyaw is one of 20, self-employed couriers who work for Deliveroo, a food-delivery company founded in London in by former investment banker Will Shu.

Kyaw, a boyish-looking year-old, has been working for Deliveroo for about nine months. In most parts of London, Deliveroo schedules shifts, which couriers agree a week in advance. They must work at least two of Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings though Deliveroo says shifts can be moved around when necessary. Kyaw whips out his phone. The app expects him to respond to new orders within 30 seconds.

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That is the only option. Deliveroo couriers are assigned fairly small geographic areas but Kyaw says sometimes the delivery address is way outside his allocated zone. You can only decline an order by phoning the driver support line. Your average difference was If drivers miss three trip requests in a row, they are logged out automatically for two minutes. Uber sends drivers a weekly report including their confirmation rate and average customer rating out of 5.

Documents submitted as part of an employment tribunal case brought by the GMB union against Uber in London include an email sent to driver James Farrar in May congratulating him on an average rating above 4. The court case documents include one instance, in which Uber sent an email on December 23 to a driver called Ashley Da Gama: We are currently planning for and would like you to be part of it. However, we do need to see an improvement on your current track record to ensure you are. It was the brainchild of Frederick W Taylor, the son of a well-to-do Philadelphia family who dropped his preparations for Harvard to become an apprentice in a hydraulics factory.

He saw a haphazard workplace where men worked as slowly as they could get away with while their bosses paid them as little as possible. To that end, he sent managers with stopwatches and notebooks on to the shop floor. They observed, timed and recorded every stage of every job, and determined the most efficient way that each one should be done.

Taylor tested many of his ideas on the or so labourers who worked in the yard of the Bethlehem Steel Company. He ordered different-sized shovels for each type of material in the yard: The men went to a pigeonhole each morning where a piece of paper would tell them which tools to select and where to start work.

Another piece of paper would tell them how well they had performed the previous day. Taylor advocated his new theory with evangelical zeal. Charles Harrah, one-time owner of the Midvale Steel Company, where Taylor pioneered many of his ideas, once told him: I am going to build the finest insane asylum this world has ever known, and you, Taylor, are going to have there an entire floor. Algorithms are providing a degree of control and oversight that even the most hardened Taylorists could never have dreamt of.

Nonetheless, scientific management took off, improving productivity in the vast factories of early 20th-century America. For Jeremias Prassl, a law professor at Oxford university, the algorithmic management techniques of Uber and Deliveroo are Taylorism 2.

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The next frontier for algorithmic management is the traditional service sector, tackling retailers and restaurants. Or is the employee getting lucky? Now with data we can do this. Percolata is one of the Silicon Valley companies trying to make this happen. The technology business, which Netessine advises, has about 40 retail chains as clients, including Uniqlo and 7-Eleven. Percolata provides management with a list of employees ranked from lowest to highest by shopper yield.

Its algorithm builds profiles on each employee — when do they perform well? When do they perform badly? It learns whether some people do better when paired with certain colleagues, and worse when paired with others. It uses weather, online traffic and other signals to forecast customer footfall in advance. Then it creates a schedule with the optimal mix of workers to maximise sales for every minute slot of the day.

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People with the highest shopper yields are usually given more hours. Some store managers print out the leaderboard and post it in the break room. The data so far suggest the algorithm can boost sales by per cent, Tanaka says. Better for the employer? Or better for the workers? Both, argue Tanaka and Netessine.

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Unlike human store managers, algorithms do not use hours to reward the people they like, or the people they are related to, or the people who look like them. Tanaka says his algorithm is also a more reliable boss because it is better at forecasting demand: Identify, Follow, and Profit from Trends 18 Mar Discussions with Investment Managers and Analysts: Only 1 left in stock - order soon. Provide feedback about this page. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations.

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