As a college student, I think I’ve gotten pretty good at being lazy. If I’m not lamenting about my academic woes of having procrastinated too much during the semester, I’m worried about not having a clean pair of pants to wear to class tomorrow. I’ve become so focused on “bigger things” (i.e. career goals, social relationships) that I’ve let smaller priorities (i.e. chores) accumulate into huge burdens.
But when I look at the technologically-advanced service economy that I’m living in, I’ve realized that I’m not the only one getting lax with my personal duties. There’s now car-sharing services like Uber and Lyft that can drive you to class on days you’re not feeling like walking the Million-Dollar stairs. There’s grocery delivering subscriptions like Amazon Prime Fresh and Instacart that will personally deliver the groceries you order online right to your doorstep. And then there’s specialists that will run every errand your heart desires while you leisurely enjoy life. These folks, my lax friends, are called TaskRabbits.
How It Works
With their motto,”We do chores. You live life,” TaskRabbit has certified “Taskers” ready to do any (legal) task you ask of them. They can repair build your new furniture, clean your home, weed your lawn—all the while you’re picking up a new hobby or spending quality time with your loved ones. Best of all, it only takes three steps via their app available for both iPhones and Androids. First, you can pick a task by searching through their popular list of chores; with your zip code also inputted, TaskRabbit will immediately begin finding available Taskers in your area. Within minutes, TaskRabbit will match you with someone who’ll be of assistance during your specified time—even within the same day! Once matched, you can manage your booking with your Tasker through your app and pay electronically when your task has been fulfilled. All payments are made with credit or debit cards only, and pricing is transparently set the moment you make the appointment; if your plans change, their policies allow for free cancellations/rescheduling with a 24-hour notice.
The Hard Reality for Taskers
But while chores may be a breeze now for consumers, many Taskers are struggling with the platform behind-the-scenes. Not too long ago, TaskRabbit sent out an email to its employees introducing a new feature in their platform that lets clients tip their Taskers for good service. And while most employees would be ecstatic, they soon realized within the fine print that a flat 30% service fee would be imposed on all tasks, discontinuing the 15% service fee on repeat clients. Taskers began to see massive drops in income with TaskRabbit doubling their cut from the workers’ payments. The larger profit percentage from repeat clients served as a lifeline and incentive to do well for many contractors. Not only has this change lowered the morale of TaskRabbit’s employees, it creates a looming threat for the start-up’s future. With less income coming from TaskRabbit, Taskers may be forced to find better-paying jobs outside of the start-up or risk disturbing their relationship with clients by raising rates.
This brings to light the big oversight that many of us have about these digital platforms. As consumers, we tend to only seek the benefits of the business without realizing the moral ethics that play into the situation. Many technological start-ups are growth companies and they’re often pressured to produce profit rapidly—often at the cost of their employees. Uber has had its battles with unfair treatment of drivers which has resulted in poor quality of service and spikes in employee turnover. If TaskRabbit doesn’t figure out a way to appease its contractors, it’ll be a longer wait than expected for profits to rise.