As Uber gears up towards it’s IPO (initial public offering), it is seemingly on a quest to become the Amazon of services, having expanded beyond ride-hailing to freight hauling, food delivery, and electric scooters. Uber Works will let companies recruit short-term workers such as security guards and waiters for events, the Financial Times reports.
While not necessarily attacking the bread and butter of staffing agencies, Uber is committing to doing more than some on-demand workforce companies such as TaskRabbit; instead of offering an extra pair of hands to consumers to help with house cleaning or building flat-packed furniture, Uber Works is pitched as a business-to-business service. As a business-to-business service, the company which transformed the global taxi industry is now taking aim at Uber-izing side hustles.
As the ride-hail company has quietly been developing a new short-term staffing business to expand its “on-demand” model into additional types of temporary work, what is to suggest that it stop with banquet servers, taxi drivers, or security guards? After all, Uber can argue its model, a model where self-employed people decide when they want to work via an app, provides workers with greater flexibility, and that workers have spoken favorably of the set-up in surveys. Such an augmentation of their existing on-demand businesses could help further inflate the company’s valuation, especially as Uber prepares for a rumored IPO.
Uber Works could become another potential source of income for the millions of drivers who are contracted by Uber; they can already supplement or replace their driving by taking jobs with Uber Eats, the company’s on-demand food-delivery service. It could also provide a fresh angle for critics who claim the company misclassified its drivers as independent contractors, denying them benefits like health insurance and minimum wage.
Side-hustles such as the ones Uber already operates and optimizes are one thing, but could they be an untapped opportunity for businesses who wish to maximize margins and reduce the necessities of employee benefits? Could they allow businesses to instantly scale up and scale down depending upon the amount of work or labor needed?