TaskRabbit started as an online service to fill odd jobs – a sort of “gal Friday” service. Need someone to do your grocery shopping, walk your dog or assemble that IKEA dining room set? TaskRabbit is where you could go.
TaskRabbit for Business  takes that concept and ports it over to the business world.
Last week TaskRabbit launched its business-oriented service. It’s designed for businesses to find vetted (background-checked) temporary help.
TaskRabbit for Business focuses on what they call “long term” help.
That’s a relative term. TaskRabbit has up until now been largely about one-day gigs or very short-term needs. Long term could include something that takes more than one day or perhaps an ongoing worker in a business working X number of hours each week.
TaskRabbit says 35% of regular tasks posted have been by businesses, and this is in response to demand.
“Over the past few months, we’ve noticed a trend in companies using the TaskRabbit platform as an easy and reliable way to staff temporary employees,” says Victor Echevarria , TaskRabbit’s Head of Business Development. “We’ve learned that many businesses are frustrated with the current temping solutions, which often prove slow, expensive, and inefficient. Hiring managers are tired of spending enormous amounts of time sifting through online classifieds and job boards, and completing the endless paperwork associated with W-2 employment.”
But Will it Be Attractive to Small Businesses?
The answer to this question depends on the nature of the job (whether you need on-premises help vs virtual help); the size of the job; and where you’re located.
TaskRabbit for Business touts the quality of its workers. All workers are background checked, the company says. The service also integrates profile data it pulls from LinkedIn. This lets employers see a summary of skills and employment history.
It also emphasizes simplicity and speed in hiring. The job posting process is streamlined and quick to fill out. There’s even a sort of “buy it now” feature, called Quick Assign, that allows for the first worker who accepts your price to be assigned to the job. It is especially fast to post administrative, customer service, sales, and data-entry jobs.
However, availability of service areas is an issue. If you are looking for workers who work on your premises, you have to be located inside one of the nine large cities TaskRabbit services. For instance, in my small town in Ohio, I was unable to post anything other than a “virtual task.” That was fine for me, because that’s what I would have hired for anyway.
Unless you’re in one of 9 metropolitan areas, you’re probably not going to get someone to hop on down to your offices to help you assemble new desks and Aeron chairs. According to its website, TaskRabbit covers Boston, San Antonio, Chicago, Portland, New York City, San Francisco Bay area, Austin, Seattle, Los Angeles and Orange County.
Another issue is fees. TaskRabbit charges 26% if the worker is to be treated as a W-2 employee. Or if the worker will be a 1099 independent contractor, the fee is 20% on top of what you pay the worker.
While TaskRabbit says those prices are less than what temporary agencies charge, that pricing will cause small businesses to think twice before using TaskRabbit for large jobs and ongoing work. For small tasks of a few hundred dollars, a 20% fee may well be worth the ease of getting someone in fast. And for the 26% fee you’re getting a payroll solution that includes compliance with payroll taxes, workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation.
Bigger jobs is where it becomes a dicey proposition. Adding 20% or 26% on top of thousands of dollars drives up your cost of doing business fast.
There are many places online today where you can hire “virtual” help (i.e., people who can work from their own homes). Competing services such as ODesk charge considerably less. ODesk charges 10% on contractor assignments, and 20% if you utilize optional ODesk payroll services. Elance charges a service fee of 8.75%. Both services offer an extensive backend system with timesheets, work diaries, reports and management monitoring capabilities. They also offer extensive feedback systems where previous employers can rate workers.
TaskRabbit, however, appears to have an edge when you need on-premises help in one of the nine cities it covers. You’d either have to pay a temporary help agency’s fees, which are likely to be higher, and it may take longer. Or you’d have to go through the laborious process of posting on a job board or classified ad, and for small projects it may not be worth the effort. TaskRabbit could be more efficient and cost effective in those circumstances.