Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video What to expect from your on-demand company, part of Starting Your Career in the On-Demand Economy.
- One of the most controversial issues about the on-demand and sharing economy is the question of exactly how to classify the people who work through them and exactly what the company's responsibility is to them. In nearly all cases, on-demand companies characterize themselves as facilitators who connect people who need services with people willing to provide them. As the person providing the on-demand service, you are an independent contractor and not an employee, although this distinction is being hotly debated in the courts right now. One of the most high-profile cases involves one of the most high-profile companies, Uber, who here in 2015 are facing a class-action suit from drivers wanting to be labeled as employees rather than contractors.
There has already been one ruling in California this year that classified at least one Uber driver as an employee, which Uber has appealed. Whatever the final ruling turns out to be, it's sure to have an effect throughout the entire on-demand industry, but nothing has really changed as of this point, and it will most likely be debated in courts for years. So for all intents and purposes, you should consider yourself as an independent contractor for any on-demand work you take on. What this means is you shouldn't expect anything like health benefits, unemployment compensation or the like. You're responsible for your own self-employment tax since taxes aren't deducted from your payments.
And as we discussed earlier, this also means you're responsible for your own costs of operation. so fuel, equipment, maintenance, and so on. But of course there are certain benefits to not being an actual employee, and these might be what makes on-demand work attractive to you. You can of course set your own hours. You don't have to punch a clock and put in eight hours a day unless you want to. You can also work for as many on-demand companies as you like. As I mentioned earlier, some people work for both Uber and Lyft simultaneously, running both apps while out driving to increase the chance of picking up riders.
Employees of a company are generally forbidden from working for anyone else. And you also have the ability to start and stop at will. If you're busy for a few weeks or want to take a vacation, you can stop working at any time and then pick it up again whenever you like. Now this doesn't mean that on-demand companies just leave you with no support whatsoever. They all have support and systems in place to help their contractor workforce. Most provide at least some level of training. This could be anything from documentation on their website to videos to connecting you with more experienced workers to teach you the ins and outs.
You'll also usually be able to find an FAQ or database of questions and answers on the company website to answer the questions you'll most likely come up with on the job. For problems that demand quick attention, you'll usually be able to get live support at least through email, through the app you use to work for the company, or through a special phone number, although most companies try to keep phone support to a minimum. And each company also provides on-the-job insurance to protect you and your property while a transaction is happening. Uber provides a million dollar policy that's in effect while the ride is occurring. And they'll pay to clean up spills and other messes that may happen in your vehicle during rides.
Airbnb also provides a million dollar policy for hosts in the U.S. that covers you during a guest's stay. But of course it's up to you to do your due diligence and check exactly what support the company you're interested in working with provides and when that coverage is in effect. But you'll find that most on-demand companies have good support for their contractors. A happy and knowledgeable contractor makes for happy customers, which benefits both the company and you.
Garrick Chow explains the basic structures of the on-demand economy and the skills and characteristics of successful on-demanders, so you can determine if on-demand work is the right fit for you. Then learn about the time commitment and expectations around pay, what the employer provides, and what one can expect from clients. Garrick then discusses tools to keep you organized, including how to best track income and expenses.
Finally, the course offers tips and tricks and a case study based on the author's firsthand experience as an Uber driver.
- Preparing to work on demand
- Managing expectations from on-demand clients
- Tracking expenses and mileage
- Optimizing your income
- Getting support online
- Case study: Becoming an Uber driver
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 05/26/2017. What changed?
A: A new video was added that explains how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for on-demand work.