Standard work arrangements where workers share a physical workplace are increasingly being replaced by nonstandard arrangements, including remote work and gig work. In this paper, we ask: how will the increased adoption of nonstandard work arrangements affect workers’ ability to collectively mobilize around workplace grievances? We answer this question using a field experiment in which we randomly assign workers to onsite or remote work and track their likelihood of collectively mobilizing organically and in response to experimental manipulations. We find that onsite workers are more likely than their remote-work counterparts to collectively mobilize because sharing a physical workplace is more conducive to establishing the solidarity that undergirds collective mobilization. Our findings provide causal evidence that nonstandard work hurts mobilization, suggesting that this arrangement might be doubly precarious if it is associated with insecure working conditions and less ability to voice grievances. This paper contributes to the sociology of work, social and labor movements, and microsociology.
Aruna Ranganathan is an associate professor in the MORS group at UC Berkeley. She received her PhD from MIT Sloan. Her research combines multiple methods to study the future of work, how individuals identify with their work and make workplace decisions, and how organizations affect workplace and social inequality.
Our CIRHR Research Seminar series invites industry leaders and researchers to present their findings. Future guest speakers include:
November 15, Christine Riordan, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, School of Labor & Employment Relations
December 6, Brian Rubineau, McGill University, Desautels Faculty of Management