Uber Reportedly Cooking up Temp Service Called Uber Works

The service allows businesses to hire workers for short-term jobs.

Uber
Eric Risberg—AP

Uber is experimenting with a service that provides workers to employers on demand, according to the Financial Times. Called Uber Works, the service will let businesses hire workers for short-term jobs such as food servers and security guards at events or corporate functions, the newspaper reports. Uber reportedly tested the service in Los Angeles earlier this year, and is now running a trial in Chicago.

Uber Works is just an experiment for now. It's one of several new business ideas cooked up by Uber's "new modalities" division, and might not progress beyond the trial stage, according to the Financial Times. If Uber Works does evolve into a complete business, it could become a temp agency for the digital age, and another major expansion of the so-called gig economy.

Uber investigated managing other kinds of work beyond driving as early as November 2017. At that time, an email was sent to drivers asking if they were willing to do tasks like cleaning, moving, and delivering food, and how much they would want to be paid for those services. This suggested that Uber had a competitor to TaskRabbit, which is primarily aimed at individuals seeking to have small chores completed. But Uber Works looks to be more of a corporate service.

The reported plans for Uber Works are another example of the company's expansion beyond its core ride-hailing business. Uber is now investing in bike and e-scooter-sharing services, and is putting more money into its Uber Freight trucking and Uber Eats food-delivery businesses. This may be part of a grander scheme to make Uber more attractive to investors as it heads for an initial public offering in 2019.

Diversifying Uber could help stock prices, but it could also bring more problems. The company is already under fire for its business model of treating drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees, and for the impact its ride-hailing service has had on the livelihoods of taxi drivers. 

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