Time for Uber to redesign it's work practices?
Transport for London (TFL) has said that it will not be renewing Uber London's private hire operator license due to "public safety and security implications". These include bad practice around reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates, and driver background checks. With regards to the latter, particular concern stems from the use of 'greyball software' which prevents authorities making background checks. Uber may offer the cheapest fares possible for customers, but at what cost? The ongoing debate around customer safety and security, alongside the poor earnings of Uber drivers and the large proportion of earnings pocketed by the company, suggests that Uber needs to reconsider it's work design.
While Uber's organizational work practices leave much to be desired, Uber drivers report time and time again how they like the flexibility and autonomy that comes with the job. This freedom is a key characteristic of jobs which research has shown we all desire and want more of. Uber needs to work out a strategy whereby the autonomy of individual drivers is protected whilst implementing work practices which are ethical and safe, thus valuing both the customer and the driver. The issues faced by Uber highlight the difficulty in meeting the needs of different parties. This is a common work design problem, and it will be interesting to see whether Uber can recover from the London ban by redesigning the way it conducts its work.