COVID-19 Impact Stories from Our One Million Crowd
As we continue to provide access to projects for contributors working from home during the pandemic, we asked our global crowd what impact COVID-19 has had on them and how they are holding up during these challenging times of social distancing and quarantine. The 3,000 of responses returned overnight were filled with raw emotion – pointed personal stories, ranging from painful and difficult to hopeful and heartwarming. They reminded us that as a global community, we share much more then divides us by geographical and political boundaries.
The stories that poured in underscore the value of our role in creating work opportunities globally. Overwhelmingly these are jobs that can be done working from home, or under quarantine. One of the strengths of our marketplace and our crowd is the diversity of those who participate. We heard stories from crowd workers who are elderly, who have autoimmune issues, and who recently lost other jobs. We heard of healthcare workers recently back from stints serving on the front lines in New York, who are supporting families, and who are trying to put food on their tables in a volatile global economic environment.
How COVID-19 Affects Our Crowd
During March, we had a 31% increase in contributor activity on the platform compared to the baseline for last year, which highlights our ability to offer remote, part-time work during times where many are looking for work. In some countries hit hard by the pandemic, task completion jumped up to as much as 500% more than baseline. As we monitor this spike in engagement, we are thankful to be able to continue to supply projects to keep up with the demand for work.
According to our survey, over half of the people who participated from around the world said that COVID-19 has impacted their regular work outside of our platform in one way or another. When asked if anyone in their life (self, family, friends) has been personally affected by COVID-19-related regular work disruptions, 64% of people surveyed from the United States said that they or someone close to them have seen their work outside of our platform impacted. In comparison, only 32% globally shared the same information. Thankfully, only a tiny fraction of our global workforce reports being personally sick, and we are working to support those individuals.
When asked about the challenges they face, many contributors spoke about safety and their ability to work, now that their existing jobs outside of our collaboration are experiencing difficulties. The stories mirror many stories on the news, and some of my own family and friends. It’s humbling to see that from countries all over the world, challenges around economic security, food security, mental health, and family responsibilities are similar:
“Keep my daughter safe, she just finished anti-lymphoma therapy, and now is time for wait final analyses.” Serbia
“I am 67 years old with an autoimmune condition. I have to be so careful to not be around anyone. I’ve had to cancel all my doctor appointments. I have to get curbside groceries but the waiting time to get my order is over a week. Getting food may become a real problem at some point. Also, since I have worked less, my income will be less. My lease is up at the end of April and I can’t continue to afford where I am. Moving is a big concern!” United States
“For safety- We have to pray for all people, eating healthy food, wearing mask, must be clean and stay home.” Bangladesh
“Being alone.” Germany
“Not being able to be with my family in Venezuela in this very serious situation that the world is living.” Venezuela
Those in the United States who have recently increased their time spent working on projects in the Appen platform shared stories with us. Many have been recently laid off or furloughed from other jobs outside of Appen, are anxious and trying to distract themselves, or trying to make additional income.
“I work in a research laboratory and there has been a restriction on all research not explicitly related to COVID–19. Additionally, with the mandatory stay at home orders I am unable to go to our laboratory. As I cannot perform laboratory work at my home, I have drastically started working more on your platform.” Concord, MI
“I am working from home more now with your platform. I own a residential care facility and am choosing to stay away because I was exposed early on and do not want to expose any of our older residents. Our medical staff is working overtime.” Omaha, NB
“I’m a healthcare professional (critical care paramedic) who’s just finished 5 days in NYC on the line. I’m back home in Ohio under mandatory quarantine to make sure I stay asymptomatic.” Cleveland, OH
“This platform has been great for me because I cannot go out now at all. I have a weakened immune system, take a chemo pill, and am in remission from cancer. This definitely helps fill my time and makes quarantine not so bad at all. Thank you!” Fort Wayne, TX
“I got furloughed from my job. Now with the extra time and need for money, I have been working more figure eight tasks.” Stow, OH
Appreciating Our Crowd & Supporting One Another
We are living through a global pandemic that is sure to have long-lasting effects on our geopolitics, economics, and humanity. How we choose to behave individually now during a time of crisis, and how we choose to support one another will define our world for generations to come.
We are grateful to be able to provide work to so many and to have seamless business continuity during this COVID-19 pandemic. Our teams have worked hard to ensure this continuity, and we are proud to have a robust platform and marketplace with millions of data points continuing to be annotated daily. Our crowd remains robust, healthy, diverse as ever, and ready to work.
Many of the responses we received in our survey also contained well wishes to those in our communities and around the globe. They send thanks for the opportunity to work remotely through our platform so they can provide for their families during this time. Perhaps my favorite comes from a crowd worker in Bosnia and Herzegovina:
“Just stay connected and disinfected.”
To our global community of crowd workers – thank you. Thank you for your work on our platform and in other places in service of others. I’d like to call out those in healthcare who put their lives on the line to care for others. Stay safe.
To all, thank you for sharing your stories. We hear you, and we are committed to maintaining and growing our platform and marketplace to increase the number of job opportunities available globally for work that pays fairly.
In my own small slice of the world – I choose to embrace science, data, and advice from experts. I choose to run essential errands for my elderly neighbors, I choose to volunteer and give money to my local food bank, I choose to bring groceries to my 90-year-old granny, and I choose to stay home, wash my hands, and hope this passes soon.
In these challenging times, we are open for business and hiring now. If you’re looking to join our crowd, apply here for jobs at Appen you can safely do while working from home!