CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Try these innovative contingent workforce/services, mobile-first solutions to find help where you need it [PRO]

In the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) category of Spend Matters’ Coronavirus Response series, our focus has been on solutions that are able to, at a minimum, help rapidly ramp up on-demand workers to deal with massive resource shortfalls.

We are examining four categories of relatively new types technology-enabled CW/S solutions for: (1) sourcing and managing remote/online work; (2) sourcing and managing mobile-equipped workers across geographical locations; (3) “direct sourcing;” (4) management of workers; and managing data and producing analytical outputs.

In this brief, we are shining a light on go-to solutions that get the right workers in the right spots at the right time: external platforms or networks for geo-specific, on-demand workforce/services that enable access to mobile-app, GPS-equipped, flexible labor/talent and services in specific geographic locations. For example, if a company’s employee field technician must care for a family member and can no longer leave the house to make onsite repairs in a particular geographical area, contract field technicians can be engaged and paid through such a platform.

These types of solutions are offered providers by providers like Field Nation, RigUp and Wonolo — which are highlighted in this brief. But there are various other providers in this solution space, an emerging area that we’ll be covering further as it develops.

One important additional note: This area should be considered with a caveat in mind — under the current pandemic-related restrictions involved at most work sites, there may be some limitations in using these geo-specific, on-demand solutions when they involve non-essential workers. But in instances where “essential workers” are involved, these solutions could be very valuable in the current acute stage of the coronavirus crisis and increasingly in subsequent stages as the restrictions ease and economic activity increases non-uniformly across states, counties and cities.

Solution category overview: These external platforms or networks can be thought of as suppliers (but with many additional capabilities). They come in various shapes and forms. Some ways to frame the population of platforms/networks at a high level are:

  • Types of work/services: This is best thought of in terms of “work/services categories” and “industry applications.”
    • Work/services categories include:
      • Field tech workers
      • Warehouse workers
      • Oil/gas field workers
      • Retail merchandising workers
      • Food/hospitality workers
      • Home care workers
      • Delivery drivers
    • Industry applications can focus on certain industries like:
      • IT Manufacturing
      • Energy
      • Logistics
      • Retail
      • Others
    • Location of work/services providers: Worker/provider populations can be resident in different states, counties, metro areas and can deliver work/services in specific coverage areas.
    • Production/delivery and business models: Work and services can be produced, delivered and contracted for in a number of ways. The following are the two typical models, and platform/network providers sometimes support both:
      • Individual worker via a “spot market” platform/network: Individual contract workers can be engaged directly online in a spot market transaction and dispatched to a specific place of work. Workers are typically vetted to some extent, ranging historical rating to heavy vetting (including license, background checks, certification of insurance, etc.). Platform workers are equipped with the platform’s mobile app that supports geo-specific dispatching and tracking, visual proof and sign-off, “geo-fencing,” et al. Depending on the type of work/industry, work can be performed on a fixed fee or hourly basis. Pricing is typically a percentage of the billed amount; work tracking and invoicing and payment mechanisms are usually a part of the platform offering.
      • Service contract with a platform/network: Client organizations contract with the platform/network for more extensive use of the platform capabilities over a more extensive period of time. This can take at least two forms:
        • In the most basic form, the client organization contracts with the platform/network for a specific period, like a year, during which time various platform capabilities are available for use. That would include engaging workers via the platform/network. Very often, organizations are able to create and maintain their own “private talent pools” of preferred vendors, etc. Some platforms support multi-worker projects. Platforms can also be integrated with a client organization’s systems. Various value-added services may also be available. Pricing usually consists of some type of fixed use fee, transactional pricing for worker engagements (sometimes volume based) and additional fees for any value-added services.
        • The second form is typically a version of the first form, but adding larger-scale multi-worker program execution. A typical use case is a firm that has many geographically locations (e.g., offices, branches, etc.) and which needs to have a reliable, on-demand, geographically workforce (local workers) to deploy on as-needed basis. Additional service fees would apply for program implementation and management.

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