Why WFH Represents An Opportunity for the Gig Economy
by Arina Smith Services 22 July 2021
At least one thing happened after millions began working out of their homes in 2020. In a nutshell, they began to notice an increasing number of things about their homes that they did not particularly like. And then they decided they were done tolerating them on a 24/7 basis.
No longer were WFH employees able to ignore past maintenance issues, some of which they’d been putting off for years. They were fielding phone calls, returning emails, and doing their level best to focus on work. Still, they couldn’t help but notice that their home needed a serious makeover.
Worse, they couldn’t leave their workplace at the end of the day. The issues they were noticing were with their everyday living environment. As home services company Angi wisely noted, the home became “the new center of our personal and professional lives” almost overnight. For many, the effect of this was quite jarring.
Gig Economy to the Rescue?
Once remote office workers got tired of their eyes coming to rest on long-overdue paint jobs, the home services gig economy blew up. As with any industry that is suddenly faced with unprecedented demand, the initial wave of requests for workers quickly overwhelmed supply. Landscapers, as just one example, began using months instead of days to estimate when they might be able to fulfill an agreed-upon contract. Some are still taking bookings a year in advance.
Supply and demand wasn’t the only problem, either. As competition for home service dollars heated up, long-established companies found that customer expectations for both their presentation and performance had leveled up as well.
Customers in upscale neighborhoods were no longer willing to tolerate a rusted-out Ford Econoline van in their driveway for several days. Furthermore, there was an increased wariness about allowing just anybody to enter their home. While this doubtless had its origin with the Covid-19 virus, it soon expanded to include other issues of safety, professionalism, liability, warranties, and reliability.
Home service newcomers took note of long-dormant customer preferences and began to offer an expanded range of options. Businesses that clung stubbornly to “We’ve always done it this way” discovered that homeowners, while increasingly cautious, became far more open to alternative vendors. This was especially true in cases where they had previously voiced concerns to their home service provider and been largely ignored.
There’s a particular class of gig economy workers who tend to enjoy the greatest level of success and overall client satisfaction. These are the ones who quickly define their talents and preferred playing field and stick to both. There are three additional practices that tend to raise such entrepreneurs to the surface as well:
1. Offering Customers a Slight Twist Unavailable Elsewhere
As mentioned above, many newcomers to the home service industry soon learned what the most lucrative customers will pay for. These individuals greatly appreciate the professionalism in results, conduct, and appearance, so entrepreneurs quickly saw the advantages of offering it. By providing a level of service that they themselves would like to receive, they moved rapidly to address the increased demand.
In addition to enhanced professionalism and results-based referrals, gig workers also saw an opportunity to give their work a personal touch. In this way, they could set their business apart from the competition and focus on relationships in addition to revenue. For example, some gig workers began combining home services such as cleaning and pet care. Others offered rental property management services that offered a customizable valet option for out-of-town guests.
2. Knowing When to Work and When Not to Work
Gig work is not without its unique challenges. But many are offset by gig workers’ ability to accept only the jobs that they genuinely want to do. The Covid-19 pandemic taught millions of people that life is short. Many home service providers extrapolated that lesson to corollaries such as, “Life is too short to continue to keep working with difficult customers.”
The data is resoundingly clear that people like being their own boss. New gig workers often jump in with both feet and only pull back after getting overwhelmed. With that experience comes the wisdom to accept or decline work as they see fit. They also enjoy being able to see their families from time to time and take days off to relax when needed.
3. Doing What They Love
One of the common threads woven into the gig economy’s fabric is the increased desire for people to do something they truly enjoy. As millions were confined to their homes, it gave them time and mental space to do some deeper thinking about what they liked doing.
Employees who love spending time with their pets, for example, began to provide dog-walking and other pet care services. Avid gardeners started offering landscaping help to others (once they got their own homes suitable for a four-color magazine cover).
Gig workers who chose a side hustle they found richly rewarding could offer their clients an increased level of service and satisfaction. For these fortunate individuals, getting paid feels more like an added benefit than an end goal.
Everyone knows that a cheerful worker is a productive worker. In the realm of home services, property owners are delighted when they find service providers who genuinely care about the quality of their work. For these entrepreneurs, the post-pandemic landscape provides a tremendous opportunity to move from “have to” to “want to.”
The shift in Location = Shift in Monthly Expenditures
The exploding home service gig economy isn’t likely to run out of steam anytime soon. Families that can attend to all of the maintenance issues around their homes are starting to ask themselves if they should.
Many customers turned to home service providers out of immediate, pandemic-related needs. Now they’re discovering that they’d actually prefer to trade some of their dollars for additional spare time. Entrepreneurs who offer attractive, reliable options coupled with a demonstrated commitment to quality relationships will only continue to thrive.