The Industrial Warehouse and Logistics Sectors are the Newest to Integrate Gig Workers
The warehouse sector is the latest to embrace gig workers. App-driven companies like Instacart and Uber work hand-in-hand with the gig economy as their businesses hinge on flexibility and efficiency. More traditional sectors such as logistics and warehousing have been more rigid in terms of workloads and schedules, yet a tight market for blue-collar workers is shifting the landscape.
During recession times, blue-collar workers generally face steeper job losses than their white-collar peers. This bears out according to an analysis of Labor Department data surrounding the recessions of 1990-91, 2001, 2007-09, and 2020. In times of rising interest rates construction is particularly vulnerable. This year the housing sector has gone from excess demand to excess supply which is driving blue-collar workers into gig work.
There are differences between hiring gig workers at Uber, for example, as compared to an industrial warehouse job. The latter requires specific training that not all workers count on. Despite someone knowing how to operate a forklift, warehouse work is varied and requires a greater command of multiple skills. HapiGig, an Alpharetta, Georgia company, connects warehouse workers with employers on flex terms. Applicants go through what HapiGig describes as a stringent vetting process where only 2% of all applicants are subsequently accepted. Employers then login and request extra work during times of high volume or unexpected absenteeism/turnover.
Companies like HapiGig provide potential employers with a transparent history of the gig worker. Everything from the person’s attendance rate, availability, skills, and of course previous employer ratings are available. According to a survey by EmployBridge, an industrial staffing agency, the share of logistics workers in 2021 who opted into four-to-six-hour chosen shifts was 15.1%. Two years later that figure is now 21%. Moreover, close to half (43%) of surveyed logistics workers indicated they would be interested in flexible scheduling.
Despite the novelty of flex-time warehouse workers, the trend isn’t entirely new. For years, especially during peak holiday seasons, companies used staffing agencies to keep up with demand. But it’s the specialization that is now new, as well as specific, weekly times as opposed to strictly seasonal work. These days products can go viral quickly thanks to social media influencers. If a certain shoe or even make-up brand experiences a surge in demand, companies like HapiGig can offer experienced and reliable warehouse gig workers to absorb the unanticipated work.
In September alone, roughly 22 million people were employed part-time (by choice) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some are full-time workers seeking to bring in additional income while others are performing gig work either on a part or even full-time basis. The gig economy is here to stay so adapting to the skill of the worker as opposed to whether he or she will be a long-term fit is fast becoming the rule.