Uber has launched a new app designed to connect workers with employers looking for temporary staff. Uber Works is being offered first in Chicago, before expanding to other cities.
But as CGTN’s Dan Williams reports, the move comes with new challenges.
Uber has enjoyed tremendous growth since its launch ten years ago. From its core ride-share business?to Uber Eats, an online food ordering and delivery platform. But the company is not without problems.
Shares in Uber have plummeted 35% since the company’s initial public offering in May. In the second quarter, Uber posted a $5.2 billion loss.
Against a chronic backdrop of red ink, Uber expanded its larger business strategy into Uber Freight two years ago. It helps truck drivers connect with shipping companies.
And now, it’s launched Uber Works – connecting workers with employers looking for temporary staff. It will allow cleaners, restaurant staff and warehouse workers to compare pay and sign up for shifts.
“Everyone thinks they can drive a car but can they drive a forklift.”
Peter Norlander is an assistant professor at the Loyola University Chicago, Quinlan School of Business.
“By getting into this space, they are going to be taking on a lot more risk I think and they are going to find a lot more unknowns. The variety and the number of challenges that they going to face by sending workers out into kitchens and warehouses and all these kind of settings where they don’t have institutional knowledge about, I think it is a very risky proposition for the company, for workers also and for any firm that goes into business with them,” said Norlander.
Uber Works will compete in the growing so-called ‘gig economy’, a labor market characterized by nontraditional, independent, short term working relationships. A recent poll by Gallup estimates 36% of U.S. workers participate in the gig economy through either their primary or secondary jobs.
A number of similar rival apps already exist. One of them is Chicago startup kNEEBU, which aims to simplify how people find and pay for household services.
“With Uber offering Uber Works, it does legitimize what we are doing with kNEEBU,” said Jessica Cropp, COO and Founder of the company.
‘Well, we always say we are the future of work. I definitely it’s definitely here to stay. Of course with anything, things may change a bit but I definitely think it’s a permanent thing that will grow at the same rapid level if not faster,” added Cropp.
The launch of Uber Works comes as several parts of the world tighten regulation around temporary work. California passed legislation in September designed to pave the way for ‘gig workers’ to become employees and gain additional rights and benefits, a move Uber continues to fight.
“I wonder if the underlying business is suffering because they have hit so many regulatory obstacles. And if they don’t have new ways to grow how can they justify their evaluations and their prospective investors, how are they going to feel about a company that may still be profitable but just not a business that is as large or growing as they had hoped, ” added Norlander.
Uber Works is getting its first try-out in Chicago. The company, hoping it will revolutionize staffing in the same way it did the taxi industry.