The well-being of gig workers in the sharing economy during COVID-19

Yanning Li, Shi (Tracy) Xu, Yitong Yu, Robert Meadows

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to deepen our understanding of the well-being of transient organizations/groups and to use this to develop a novel conceptual framework of gig worker well-being during times of crisis. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative approach was adopted combining in-depth semi-structured interviews and daily diaries. Twenty-two workers working in the sharing economy were recruited. Thematic analysis was conducted for the diary and interview data. Findings: The findings illustrate a complex picture of sharing economy workers’ four dimensions of well-being, including physical, subjective, psychological and social well-being. A number of the COVID-19 pandemic contexts, such as more time, restriction, economic recession and uncertainty, were seen to influence these workers’ well-being in different ways including both positive and negative impacts. The precarious nature of gig work within the sharing economy was also found influential, which includes flexibility, uncertainty, temporality and diversity. Furthermore, the specific contexts of the hospitality, tourism and event industry (such as labor-intensive, low esteem, self-value and purpose in life) had also impacted gig workers physical and psychological well-being in various ways. Research limitations/implications: This study complements the gig workers’ view of the sharing economy by investigating their well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, this study reveals the complex and various influences hospitality, tourism and events industry contexts made, amplified by the pandemic. Methodologically, the daily diary approach applied in this research has captured gig workers’ instant feelings and thoughts, which enriches the current understanding of gig workers’ well-being. Practical implications: From the findings and the newly developed conceptual framework, practical implications are proposed focusing on how the tourism, hospitality and event industries should look after their gig workers’ well-being in the COVID-ized environment. From the physical well-being perspective, businesses should consider partnering with gym operators to provide corporate packages or discounted membership to their gig workers. From psychological well-being perspective, a recognition system integrating gig workers would be useful to strengthen gig workers’ perception of value in their jobs. In addition, technology can be used to introduce more resources to their gig workers, particularly when distancing. Originality/value: A conceptual framework is developed, which captures the influence of both “internal” and “external” determinants of gig worker well-being during times of crisis. This research contributes to theory by developing a framework of well-being in the context of the sharing economy, as well as explicitly addressing how the uncertainty and precariousness of sharing economy work and the hospitality, tourism and event industry contexts relate to well-being. This model is likely to have applicability beyond COVID-19 as the pandemic made clear many existing challenges – rather than just simply creating new ones.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Covid-19
  • Diary keeping
  • Gig workers
  • Precarious workforce
  • Sharing economy
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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