Uber’s New App Matches Service-Industry Workers With Local Businesses

A male looks at his phone while walking in Chicago.
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Uber is adding to the ways gig workers can find on-demand jobs.

The company launched a new app Friday called Uber Works. Currently available only in Chicago, it connects people with local, temporary gigs. The company also debuted Works.co, a new website ahead of the app’s release. The new platform was announced in a blog post Wednesday.

“We believe that finding work shouldn’t have to be a job in itself. For positions as diverse as being a prep cook, warehouse worker, a commercial cleaner or event staff, Uber Works aims to make it easier to find and claim a shift,” the company said in the announcement.

Uber tested the staffing platform in Los Angeles last year before moving operations to Chicago for the launch. The new staffing services come as a deviation from the company’s heavy focus on transportation.

How Does Uber Works Work?

Local gig seekers can download the app on Android and iOS devices to find shifts from a variety of businesses in the area. Users must be 18 or older.

“Uber Works app users can get detailed information about shifts they’re interested in, including information about gross pay, work location and skills, or required attire,” the company said in an announcement. “Uber Works also serves as a one-stop shop for all time-tracking needs, allowing users to clock in and out and log breaks.”

Gigs are provided by local businesses, not by Uber Works itself, and are primarily related to food services, event setup, general labor and cleaning.

In the announcement, Uber said that it won’t directly hire workers. Instead, Uber Works relies on staffing-agency partners to employ workers and handle their pay and benefits.

After downloading the app and setting up an account, users can create their own schedule and search gigs from nearby businesses within that time frame. The app’s terms and conditions outline a disciplinary system based on “marks” for tardiness or absences after a worker accepts a job.

Two marks are applied for every 15 minutes a worker is late. Six marks are applied for a no-show. Workers who incur 10 marks over a 30-day period are banned from the app.

While Uber Works services are different than many other popular freelance platforms like Upwork and Freelancer, the concept isn’t novel. Chicago-based digital staffing agency Shiftgig was founded in 2012, and it offers essentially the same services across multiple states.

Uber has been experimenting with several new services in recent years — including a foray into e-scooters, public transit and now on-demand staffing — in a bid to reach profitability surrounding its IPO in May. In August, the company reported a record $5.2 billion loss in its second-quarter results. In recent months, Uber has laid off more than 800 employees.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.