The Rise of the Task Economy

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I was at a party on Sunday and the host had hired a contractor from TaskRabbit to man the barbecue. She did this so she could enjoy her party and mix with her guests instead of worrying about the food.  

The TaskRabbit did a great job and before he left he also fixed her broken front door nob.  

Welcome to the task economy.  

There's been lots of buzzwords coined to describe the shift from traditional employment and towards temporary and/or self-employment.  Examples include The Temp Economy, The Gig Economy, Freelance Nation, The Grassroots Economy, The Artisan Economy (a term we use), The Bottom Up Economy (we posted on this one yesterday, etc. etc. etc.  

I'm starting to warm to the task economy because all work - and not just temporary work - has become much more task oriented.

There's also been almost an explosion of firms offering services that provide work on a task basis.  Our friends at Staffing Industry Analysts tell us there are at least 60 online staffing firms that provide task-based workers.  This, by the way, does not include crowdsourcing firms.

The chart below comes from the PC World article Inside e-ployment: Online staffing services put temporary labor within reach of small businesses.  It only covers 6 firms, but it's an interesting mix and the chart highlights major differences.

Online staffing firms

It's clear from our research on independent workers that the role of talent intermediaries like these is going to continue to increase.  There are two primary drivers of this trend:

1. Government crackdowns on employee misclassification is leading more hiring firms to use 3rd party labor providers to help avoid the misclassification risk.  

2. Growing numbers of independent workers needing access to buyers of their services.  

What ever we end up calling it, expect to hear more about the task economy in the future.

Steve 24 Jul, 2013

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