Uber’s answer to stock market demands that it maintains growth and reduces losses, or at least part of it, has been revealed with the launch of a new app – Uber Works. The platform, which will work in partnership with staffing agency partners, will match on-demand temps workers with temporary vacancies employers need to fill. It will expand Uber’s footprint in the ‘gig economy’ from on-demand drivers to pretty much any industry that uses temporary staffing solutions.
Uber Works will launch on Friday October 4th and will initially be limited to the Chicago area where it has been trialled in ‘stealth mode’ for a year. More limited trials have also been conducted in Los Angeles. It can be presumed that following an initial period to iron out any issues with the app or business model itself, Uber Works will then be rolled out more broadly.
The platform will help match workers such as chefs, catering staff, security or stewards and temporary office workers match with open positions. The benefits of the platform for the workers will be not having to re-enter personal information and other credentials with each individual application as well as being able to build up a good reputation through a ratings system similar to that employed by the main Uber ride-hailing app. For employers and staffing agencies it will also reduce their administrative work when hiring temps as well as reducing risk by being able to see how reliable and competent previous gigs have rated the workers.
Uber Works will not only work with pure ‘gig economy’ positions and workers but will also sign up “W2 employees” who are technically employed by staffing agencies and are eligible for some benefits as being on a payroll. Insiders have revealed that one of the initial partners of Uber Works is TrueBlue, one of the largest industrial staffing companies in the US, according to a person familiar with the project.
The blog post published by Uber as part of the announcement of tomorrow’s launch detailed the aim of the app in helping to “eliminate bottlenecks to finding work” for temporary workers, while helping employers “reduce scheduling headaches, weather seasonal variations, and staff up for unexpected demand”.
Uber’s move comes as its core ride-hailing business comes under increasing pressure – particularly in its domestic U.S. market. In California, a bill passed last month will make it increasingly difficult for Uber to classify its drivers as contractors rather than employees. Other states are expected to follow in passing similar regulation. The self-driving cars market, the forecast value of which is a major hope for Uber investors, is also inching more slowly towards reality than many hoped a year or two ago. Many analysts now expect it to be another decade before truly autonomous vehicles, that don’t require a safety driver ready to take the controls in an emergency, move into the mainstream.
As such, Uber is in need of new revenue streams to shore up growth and cut losses. The labour market is an obvious target – worth $18 trillion a year in personal income in the USA. The number of professionals earning a living from ‘alternative’ arrangements that include contracting, freelance contracts and the ‘gig economy’ has, according to a recent report by consultants Deloitte, tripled in just the two years since 2017 to 42 million individuals. That’s expected to grow further, offering a major potential market Uber are keen to capitalise on.