WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WORK FOR UBER
They drive you to work, clean your condo, assemble your furniture, even babysit your kid. Five on-demand workers earning a living in the everexpanding app economy
We consumers love Uber and Favour for their super-slick efficiency. But what about the workers on the other end of the apps? Since 1997, unconventional employment—including part-time work, temporary work and self-employment—has grown almost twice as fast as traditional employment in Ontario. And more and more people are looking for new ways to cobble together a living. Working on the front lines of a digital service start-up means no guaranteed hours, paid sick days or benefits. On the plus side, the hours are flexible and you get to be your own boss. Here, five on-demand workers explain why they’ve opted out of a nine-to-five career, and how they make the app economy work for them.
While I was studying sign language at George Brown, I went back to my hometown of Sudbury for the summer. I’d been a full-time student and relied on OSAP, but the loans were piling up.
I wanted work I could do on my own terms, with a flexible schedule. I have experience painting homes and doing odd jobs around the house, so I googled “handyman app” and Ask for Task came up. I decided to give it a try. In Sudbury I didn’t get too many requests, but once I came back to Toronto, I received a lot more. I’ve done interior painting, helped businesses move offices and assembled IKEA furniture. I have a part-time job as a clerk at Sport Chek, which covers my rent. In my spare time I pick up odd jobs through Ask for Task to earn spending money. I hate cooking, so a lot of it goes toward eating out.
At first I was nervous about going to a stranger’s house. I always tell my roommates where I’ll be, and they know to be concerned if I’m not home by a certain time. It’s hard to explain to my parents, especially my mom. I think any parent would be worried about their kid going to a stranger’s house to do odd jobs. But everyone I’ve worked for has been really nice.
The people who use the app aren’t expecting perfection. If they wanted a professional, they’d hire one. After every task, I’m rated from one to five stars. I have a five-star rating, which means I am an MVT (most valuable tasker), and I’m alerted to jobs an hour before anyone else.
The best part is that I can work as often or as little as I want. When I graduate, I want to be a freelance interpreter so I can continue to make my own schedule. I think a lot of people my age are pulling away from the nine-to-five thing. Being a slave to the man is not my style.