WorkWhile takes a fresh look at what workers want from flexible working – Techdoxx

Deepak Gupta February 23, 2022
Updated 2022/02/23 at 6:12 PM

WorkWhile founder Jarah Euston is not alone in its mission to connect workers to flexible, reliable work. Where she excels, though, is her belief that many job markets today are built on a fallacy.

“I never subscribe to this notion that what workers want is infinite flexibility,” she said in an interview with Ploonge. “This is probably coming from people not trying to pay their rent by working by the hour, not having visibility and assurance that you are going to earn enough to pay your bill.”

She added: “Workers need flexible hours, they don’t want infinite flexibility… the idea that someone wants to be an Uber driver and drive for 30 minutes and then sit on the beach for three hours and then drive for another ten minutes is a fallacy. what the market told itself.”

The absence of a platform that helps workers understand what they’re getting and how often they’ll be able to get it seeded Euston’s interest in launching WorkWhile alongside co-founder Amol Jain. Founded in 2019, WorkWhile connects hourly workers to open shifts, as well as benefits like next-day pay, access to telehealth services, and salary transparency.

WorkWhile is active in 13 markets, including where it is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Northern New Jersey, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston and the NYC Metro. The growth, along with Euston’s vision, has attracted significant investor interest.

The startup announced today that it recently raised a $13 million Series A, led by Reach Capital with participation from existing investors including Khosla Ventures, F7 Ventures and new investors including Chamaeleon, Position Ventures and Gaingels.

Ultimately, the point of WorkWhile is that it can build a market with a tougher worker, who turns to it not just for shifts, but also for ongoing support and services (regardless of the workweek). Runner, founded by Arlan Hamilton, recently launched with a similar vision: It hires part-time and on-demand workers as W-2 employees for more job stability and connects them to jobs in tech operations. Bluecrew does a similar service but employs people before connecting them to bartending, event management, security, data entry or customer support roles.

The rise in interest in stable and flexible jobs may be partly a reaction to the Great Layoff, but also just another sign that the freelance economy has matured to the point where even workers seeking atypical jobs want support. WorkWhile says it has filled shifts at companies such as Advance Auto Parts, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, Good Eggs, Thistle, Edible Arrangements, Dandelion Chocolate and Bassett Furniture.

Image credits: WorkWhile

Euston said that 80% of workers on the WorkWhile platform are looking to work more than 30 hours a week, while 60% want 40 or more hours a week. “We never use the word ‘gig’ at Workwhile. We don’t want to be seen as a concert platform,” Euston said. “We want to be seen as the best place to earn a steady salary.”

Adding to its pitch to be worker-friendly, WorkWhile doesn’t charge workers a dime to use its service. Instead, it makes money by charging companies that use it a percentage rate based on the rate paid to the worker. What’s in store for employers, of course, is the promise of a more reliable workforce that doesn’t change so fast.

Euston said the company seeks to find data points to signal “how people feel about work” and then build profiles around that. For example, when an employee first joins WorkWhile, they are given an orientation, followed by a behavioral test.

“It’s not difficult, but it’s really a follow-up test,” she said. “We’re asking about workplace attitudes, like how many times a year do you say you’re sick and how many times a year do you think other people say you’re sick?” WorkWhile’s current no-show rate is only 5%, it is 76% accurate in predicting whether a scheduled worker will show up for a shift.

The challenge with tracking data points in this way is that it can weigh disproportionately against historically neglected individuals or people with a lower socioeconomic status. Ultimately, the startup is not for people looking for flexible work in a primarily part-time capacity, which could eliminate entire cohorts from the market. Another interesting data? About 28% of hourly workers in WorkWhile platform’s own encryption.

Euston said they “very intentionally” don’t ask demographic questions in the app and don’t include age as a factor in their predictive modeling based on the reasons mentioned above. Based on optional worker surveys, WorkWhile says that 80% of users identify as POC.

“Our philosophy with the models is to manage risk rather than preventing people from working. For example, if we predict that someone has less than a 50% chance of showing up for a shift, we might send an extra backup worker to make sure the customer’s request is met,” she added. “If our model is wrong and they all show up, the backup worker will still be paid, but the customer will not be billed.”

The company claims it doesn’t restrict anyone from trying to work, but it does offer the first opportunity for new shifts to those with higher ratings. “In the future, we also envision building more support for those we anticipate may have trouble getting to the workplace.[…] if we know you don’t have a car, we might consider showing you ride options,” she said.

Image credits: WorkWhile

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