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Uber is changing the way Employees engage!

  • https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/uber-redefining-work-week-olivia-barrow

    The 9-to-5 job has been out of popularity for several years. Employers have got to offer flexible schedules as much as possible in order to retain the most in-demand workers.

  • But the Uber business model takes flexibility to a new level! 

Uber’s ability to attract hundreds, or even thousands, of drivers in every city it operates in stems from the strong appeal of the opt-in work week. Drivers can choose to work whenever they want, and for as many hours as they want, and there’s no need to ask anyone for vacation.

“Talent wants to opt in and out at their leisure, it’s the ultimate convenience.”

Imagine if  you are required to work about 40 hours a week, but on your own schedule, with an option to work at home? 

In a typical accounting firm, working full-time as a salaried employee means you can work as few as 30 hours a week, or as much as 80 hours a week, if that’s how long it takes to meet your deadlines. I’ve seen many of my colleagues in the accounting profession deal with the ugly side of that work-week model.

In that model, a few things change for the employer. They may not always be able to expect that you’ll be at your desk at any given time, and they may need to develop new requirements about cell phone accessibility, but ultimately, they can still develop job descriptions for the same number of people to accomplish the same amount of work.

With the opt-in work week, everything changes.

Say that my skill as an accountant , a firm is willing to hire me, even though I only want to work 20 hours a week most of the time, but I still want to receive ample wages to fuel my activities for the additional 20 hours a week I now have to fill.

Someone else only wants to work 10 hours. And another worker has a highly specialized skill, but wants to spread her talent out among several ventures, so she only has five hours a week to spare.

Each of these employees now acts like their own consulting firm, and the employer has to adopt a new team-based model for ensuring the job gets done on time.

For Uber, the ‘job’ is picking up all of the passengers who request a ride at a given time, within a reasonable amount of time. It makes no difference to Uber if that is accomplished by two drivers or 20. If it can’t be done in a reasonable amount of time with only two drivers, Uber can offer additional incentives to bring in more drivers.

To match Uber, my fictitious accounting firm would need to adjust to a team-based deadline model, with incentives to make sure the job gets done on time by somebody, even if the 5-hours-a-week-employee and the 10-hours-a-week-employee both decide not to work this month.

In the past, this kind of flexibility has only been available in independent contractor jobs like tutoring, or appointment-only hair-cutting, or other self-employed gigs, where the only thing at stake was your own income level, not a company’s ability to complete tax returns and audits.

Will the Uber business model actually drive this kind of paradigm shift in the work week? The shift into the ‘gig’ economy is being viewed  with varying reactions from embracing it to eyeing it with caution.

Do you want to work as you need the money, but still having access to coworkers and collaboration and the resources of an employer. Is Uber building a culture where employees are nurtured and looked after? What are Ubers plans for the future?

Uber’s endgame is a driver team entirely composed of robots. The company is at the forefront of discussions of the legal and logistical implications of self-driving cars, because if the company can cut out the cost of the driver, it can offer cheaper rides and earn more profits. The company is currently agnostic about the makeup of its workforce because it doesn’t foresee having one for much longer.

So this makes me wonder. Is the gig economy just an intermediate step in the progression toward a fully automated robotic workforce? And if it is, is there anything we can do to stop it? 

Inspired by Olivia Barrow covers manufacturing, travel and tourism for the Milwaukee Business Journal, and blogs on LinkedIn about life as a young journalist in a rapidly changing media landscape.

Reporter at Milwaukee Business Journal


  • Mark Sweigart

    Supervisor at PCA

    I agree with Mr. Levens . Are the drivers properly insured – they should all have commercial driving insurance which is about 3to 4 thousand dollars a year. I would bet that 99% of all Uber drivers do not have this coverage and are setting themselves for a big lawsuit

    1 min ago

  • William (Bill) Josephs, Ph.D.

    Chronic Pain Psychologist

    Adding to the intelligent critique by Aimee Levens, this article and not all but many respondents behave as if a menial job like an Uber driver sets some sort of standard for business. Most Uber drivers are looking for extra work because they are so poor they can’t make ends meet. This mentality sends one more volley against labor. The article sets impoverished standards among predatory business and the ‘thinkers’ who seek to exploit the working poor; who have been steadily impoverished over the last 40 years. It typifies those who express rationales to support making the worker modular and ultimately unnecessary, consistent with utter yet indirectly expressed contempt for the working class.

    5 mins ago

  • John Gottler

    Principal Transportation Engineer Aurecon

    Lets take this one step at a time. Firstly Uber will move to Self Drive Cars where drivers are still needed and this will happen very soon. For Uber to move to autonomous cars they need a completely different operating model. So they would need to work with Apple, Microsoft or Google to achieve such a change as services will not just be travel but travel will be the prime component. The cost of cars to communities and the environment cannot be sustained so it is inevitable that the travel vehicle must change. As we cannot afford the roading changes and it is not acceptable to force human modification on all travelling humans. So it has to be robotic travel.

    13 mins ago

  • Arnold Malin

    Accomplished, High Touch Healthcare Executive

    Simple logic in play here…Why have so many employers missed this shift in the labor force? Likely focus on cost containment in the workforce has clouded their thinking!

    25 mins ago

  • Frank Qu

    Technical Manager, Professional Scrum Master I, Software Quality Assurance, Financial Enterprise System Implementation

    Workers do need flexibility somehow and someway to accommodate various personal commitments in life whereas drastic shift out of the normal working pattern may not necessarily be a trend for most industries. Like other personal service lines, Über particularly needs round-clock open to its customers, which is echoing the nature of his core business. On the other side, many clinic and life science researches have reported that constant and drastic change in working shift, particularly from day to night, would simply impose workers to several serious health issues. Responsible economic and social development should consider the negative impact, thus reliable alternative such as automatic cruise car or so solution may be better solution to serve society humanly down the road.

    37 mins ago

  • Ayodeji Fola-Owolabi

    Grad Student 

    Yes, but they have to aim closer to employment law. Why spoil a good thing?

    51 mins ago

  • Ron Segal

    Digital analyst, architect and inventor

    Thought provoking article, which over generalises the potential of ‘work when you want’. The Uber model is based on the need for a worker to be 100% available for the duration of each job. Furthermore drivers are effectively interchangeable, i.e. no specialist skills other than driving and perhaps knowledge of an area. It also relies on the supply of drivers who are working always balancing against demand (the worker requires this too). Although perhaps not unique, few other kinds of work would translate well to this scenario. With regards robots (driverless vehicles), they work 24 x 7 x 365 (apart from maintenance outages). They don’t care if work isn’t available when they are available to work, although the company does as it has effectively paid their salaries (capital investment) for their lifetime! A very different model again.

    1 hour ago

  • Bo S.

    Visionary story teller, composer

    imagine a world where everybody was rich, lived in nice homes and worked for fun. an ice cream shop owner, also a millionaire, wakes up every day for work at 6 am because it’s fun and he doesn’t have to stress over money or having a home. The money is distributed equally, regardless of skill. But nobody gets paid for working, they work for fun. we have everything as it is, internet, politics, technology, the only thing we don’t worry over any more is money and taxes. so nobody goes into debt because we eliminate debt. we don’t eliminate money, NO we keep that as it is. we just work for fun, and the money in circulation is distributed happily to everybody, and there’s no taxes, so we get to keep the money, save it, invest it, or gamble wtih it. how do we buy things, how does our trade economy work? with the money, you save you money pool your money, but you don’t borrow. nobody needs to borrow from any institution or anybody. you pool your money together, or the person who created the goods can gift it to you, or set a lower price. the model of this system allows for its citizens to not be overburden with economic stress and in turn create harmony. it’s a work in progress and it is feasible.

    1 hour ago

  • Nicki Thacker

    author at Freelance

    Just jump in your car and use it as a taxi? What about licence regulations, insurance, etc. that regular taxi drivers must have. Look out!!! Nicki

    1 hour ago

  • Brian Heath

    Student at New Zealand Film & Television School

    I’m a freelancer. It’s all well & good saying this, but many would have to be financially independent to start with and acquired a mortgage before doing that, as Banks are definitely not with the program, it’s hard enough to get a loan even when you have assets and rental income, as Banks are only interested in secure regular job income generally, especially in countries in Latin America , where I live these days when not working or studying. Plus you would have to be so much in demand, in an already saturated freelance market full of good qualified and experienced people, that no-none wants to pay for anymore especially in expatriate gigs – so you could pick and choose when to work. Zero Hour contracts are the reverse of this for employers.

    1 hour ago

Posted on February 16, 2016

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