New Wave of Contract Work

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The Bay area and L.A. have seen a flourish of “runners” or contract-workers for hire websites that allow individuals and businesses to post paying tasks. TaskRabbit has totally capitalized on this wave of, exonerating or exploiting, the lack of work by building a platform that is expanding rapidly throughout the nation’s metro areas.

I personally saw the wonderful side of this first, like peer-2-peer car sharing, it’s a tool to utilize our under-utilized assets for a profit. Imagine if Pittsburgh small-retailers were able to get the assistance they needed, when they needed it, as they grow without breaking the bank. Starting a business is tough. Is it tougher than starting a family? Ask a full-time mom if she’d like to be able to get some assistance now and again. Many of these services are menial labor or errand running, posted by middle-to-high earning individuals and bid on by ‘runners’ who have been interviewed and cleared as compatible to the workforce requirements. The lowest bidder typically wins, and where it does bring the community together over the exchange of a dollar, there is likely a chance of misunderstanding and plain old abuse.

Of course being the largest of these providers, TaskRabbit has had the first penalty thrown at them. Read the “TaskRabbit Confessions” from the businessinsider.com/.
A journalist tries out three different task providing services: Taskrabbit, Cherry, and Postmate and describes it in his article “My Life as a TaskRabbit” in bloomberg’s businessweek.com/ .

In my research, I was unable to find too many businesses using TaskRabbit specifically, and continue to investigate other p2p service sites that may be on their way to Pittsburgh. On YELP, the LA satellite of TaskRabbit has been receiving pretty shoddy reviews. I personally don’t want Taskrabbit to come here. Like I stated earlier, it’s a great concept, and it puts a focus on sending requests out on the internet for professional assistance in a new way, like the good ol’ days of craigslist.org/ or backpage.com/. It seems that the inherent flaws of underbidding by the ‘runners’ and no screening for the ‘posters’, who are also liable to falsify adverts and commit abuse, is crippling to a business managing a workforce.

If you can’t find anyone from craigslist or backpage, try Angie’s List. They are membership supported and local businesses create a free account to advertise their service. I know people swear by it and it seems more transparent about the cost of management and user reviews. And if you still can’t find someone for the task, ask around and engage in the barter system. Value is subjective and you might have some product or service that’s worth the effort to them. Long live the word of mouth system!

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