I, and others on Blogging4Jobs, have written about the future of work and adapting to the needs of future workers. I have also written about the contractor or Freelancer economy and how a large portion of the Millennial generation will be working in very flexible work arrangements. The company Uber has provided one example. Now a company called TaskRabbit is providing another.
Tasks when you can do it
Much like Uber, where you can provide the occasional ride to someone that needs it, or make it your full time job, TaskRabbit provides opportunities for both part-time or full-time employment running errands, helping with moves, fixing things around the house or with things like parties, etc. This position is called a “tasker” and patrons use the mobile app to enlist the help of a person who has been screened, background checked and interviewed. They are in London, multiple cities in the US and planning on expanding to other cities in Europe. By the way a full-time “tasker” makes $5000 or more per month.
Just so you know, this is not an endorsement of the company, however, I think the idea is fantastic. I see this model as providing work opportunities for not only the Millennials but also for Baby Boomer retirees.
A new model of work
So is this flexibility model a new model of work? It appears that it may be, at least for services that other workers are too busy to perform. This new model however puts a premium on good HR practices and talent selection. Uber has had some hiccups in its practices and some bad “human resources” issues that have gotten them bad press. Any company that is using this model to provide services is certainly going to have to insure that the service providers are of high quality.
Is it really a new model or just a new delivery system?
Thinking a bit further I wonder if this is really a new model or just a new way of delivering service or organizing the service. After all we have services that clean houses, deliver flowers, do your grocery shopping, walk your dogs, pick up your children, do “handyman” work and more. Perhaps this model is just one of consolidation of services on a world-wide basis, more general than a company that specializes in a type of service, but more specific than a site like Fiverr.
Leah Busque, the creator of TaskRabbit, feels that she represents the leading edge of a sharing economy that is going to change the nature of work. She feels freelancing provides a much more flexible work model. According to an article in The Telegraph she says:
“I think that to be part of the sharing movement, you really have to have a two-sided marketplace model and have full control on both sides…The people on the supply side who are sharing homes or cars or free time and skills and services have to have the right tools and resources to control their schedule and pricing…And they have to be able to opt in and out of certain relationships. I think that’s a key piece.”
I think she is right in saying that this freelance model and sharing marketplace is the wave of the future. I feel that it will provide opportunity for many workers to have lives that provide the balance many workers today say they seek while still providing the income they desire. Making it easier to do this is the changes in healthcare coverage we are seeing in Europe and increasingly in the US. Time will tell if this is a long standing change.