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

Toronto Life - - Front Page - AS TOLD TO KAT SHER­MACK PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY DAVE GILLE­SPIE

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.

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