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Gig Economy Steps Up To Help Americans in Time of Need

The former “disruption” stars of the past decade are pivoting, adjusting and evaluating as each day brings new disruptions in turn

Photo: Courtesy of Uber

A recent article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce highlighted how GIG economy companies are solving staffing problems for restaurants both for inside staffing and for now necessary delivery services… to keep revenues coming during the crisis. With the resulting stay-at-home orders and national economic downturn, the nation’s gig economy companies have become a fundamentally essential part of many Americans’ daily lives – and an economic lifeline for many others.

Not only are companies like Instacart, Postmates, and Uber delivering food and groceries to those in isolation, but GIG employees can also help restaurants solve their non-delivery staffing as well. Perhaps most importantly, these companies are also providing vital earnings opportunities to Americans who have lost hours or jobs amid the economic slowdown.  Active companies in the markets this week include ShiftPixy, Inc., Grubhub Inc., Slack Technologies, Inc., Uber Technologies, Inc., and Lyft, Inc.

“One of the reasons that gig economy has been so successful is that it satisfies consumer preference for products that are on-demand, convenient, and easy to use,” said Toast CEO Chris Comparato in an article he wrote about how the gig-economy could offer restaurants struggling with staffing an innovative solution to their struggle.

With difficulties in restaurant staffing at an all-time high, a new labor market is redefining the way we find quality candidates: The gig economy. A shrinking labor pool makes it extremely difficult to source talent, and, even if you do find quality staff, there is still an unusually high employee turnover rate plaguing the industry. Employee recruitment and retention are frequently listed by restaurateurs as their top operational challenge, as cited in Toast’s 2019 Restaurant Success Report. “The gig economy provides an easy way to access a flexible (and available) worker pool who can help restaurants quickly grow or shrink their workforces at low risk based on current demand,” says Jenay Sellers, Director of Marketing at GigSmart.

ShiftPixy, Inc. (NASDAQ: PIXY):  ShiftPixy, a California-based gig engagement platform provider, launched “Shifter Waitlist,” allowing restaurant employees displaced by the coronavirus pandemic to sign up now for available work at restaurants when business restarts. ShiftPixy currently serves thousands of restaurant workers in markets across the country, and is rolling out its Shifter Waitlist to facilitate recovery plans for both employees and operators nationwide.

“We have heard from many multi-unit restaurant operators expressing the fear, ‘What if they don’t come back?’ when thinking about the employees they had to furlough,” said Scott Absher, CEO and co-founder of ShiftPixy. “We moved ahead of schedule to open up the ShiftPixy platform for workers who are not currently connected with our clients, so that when the economy re-opens, our clients will have a ready pool of locally available workers to quickly rebuild their staff.”

ShiftPixy’s platform leverages AI-driven technology and the concept of gig work to elevate worker engagement in the restaurant space, offering greater flexibility between shift workers and operators with open shifts. “Previously, our platform was only open to active ShiftPixy clients to help run their operations, but now we have opened our waitlist feature so shift seekers can immediately start the process of boarding and qualifying for shift opportunities,” he said.

To join the ShiftPixy Shifter Waitlist, a furloughed worker need only:

1. Download the ShiftPixy App from the Google Play or Apple App Store

2. When prompted for your Worksite Code, click on “Don’t know your code?”

3. Click the “I’m just looking for gigs” button

4. Enter information and submit by clicking “Get early access”

Despite today’s heightened levels of anxiety, the Shifter Waitlist takes aim at the certainty of emergence from this crisis. ShiftPixy is not only designed as a human capital management solution; it is also a means for restaurants to prepare their business to emerge even better once this crisis ends.    

Other recent developments include:

Grubhub Inc. (NYSE: GRUB) a leading online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace, recently provided a brief business update due to the extraordinary circumstances stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

During these unprecedented times, our priority is the health, safety and sustainability of our community – the drivers, restaurants, diners and approximately 2,800 Grubhub employees. For the first quarter of 2020, the company expects revenue and adjusted EBITDA to be slightly above the midpoints of the guidance we issued on February 5, 2020. While the business was trending at or above the high end of our guidance range for the first 10 weeks of the quarter, like most businesses, GrubHub experienced a swift change in customer behavior in the middle of March when the pandemic took hold across the country.

Slack Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: WORK): Slack helps those lucky enough to be able to work remotely are juggling the realities of day-to-day care for the people (and pets) in the midst of a global health crisis and all the concern for family and friends that comes with it. While the business of business as usual may be continuing, there’s nothing “usual” about it.

Slack has transformed business communication. It’s the leading channel-based messaging platform, used by millions to align their teams, unify their systems, and drive their businesses forward. Slack offers a secure, enterprise-grade environment that can scale with the largest companies in the world. It is a new layer of the business technology stack where people can work together more effectively, connect all their other software tools and services, and find the information they need to do their best work.

Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER) recently announced that it will hold its quarterly conference call to discuss its financial results for the first quarter of 2020 on Thursday, May 7, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time (4:30 p.m. Eastern Time). A live webcast of the conference call and earnings release materials can be found on Uber’s Investor Relations website at A replay of the conference call will be accessible for at least 90 days.

Given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and the uncertainty it has caused for every industry in every part of the world, it is impossible to predict with precision the pandemic’s cumulative impact on future financial results. As such, Uber says it will be withdrawing its 2020 guidance for Gross Bookings, Adjusted Net Revenue, and Adjusted EBITDA, which were provided on February 6, 2020.

Lyft, Inc. (NASDAQ: LYFT) recently said that it is donating tens of thousands of free rides to people in need as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout the country. Through their, LyftUp initiative, which partners with government agencies and community organizations, the ride-sharing company will focus on helping on families and children, low-income seniors, as well as doctors and nurses who need transportation to work.

“We know Lyft can be a critical lifeline for communities in need — this situation is no different,” the company said in a statement, adding, “many vulnerable populations still don’t have as much access to these essential services as they should. So we’re taking immediate action to fill the gaps, while continuously working to protect driver safety.”