Hourly workers also seeking flexible work arrangements, Instawork CEO says

Instawork Co-Founder & CEO Sumir Meghani joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss addressing hiring needs, wage inflation, the labor force participation rate, economic opportunities, and the outlook for the labor market.

Video Transcript


BRIAN CHEUNG: The pandemic recovery has created surging demand across industries, from restaurants to warehouses. And with the labor market favoring the worker, a lot of businesses need help with staffing, even if on an hourly basis. Instawork is exactly what the name implies. It's an app that helps businesses connect with workers they can turn to for one-time seasonal or temp-to-hire needs. Sumit Meghani is the co-founder and CEO of Instawork and joins us live.

Sumit, it's great to have you on the program. Tell us a little bit about your app and exactly what needs it's plugging right now. My understanding is hospitality, hotels, and also stadiums right now are big beneficiaries of this app.

SUMIR MEGHANI: Well, good morning. Thank you for having me.

We are the leading marketplace that connects businesses with skilled hourly workers. And we're really excited right now because the demand for flexible work is greater than ever. You mentioned stadiums. I think about 80% of baseball stadiums right now are using Instawork because whenever there's a home stand, you need bartenders and you need cooks to welcome fans. And we're grateful that 80% of stadiums are using Instawork right now.

We have 2 million active professionals across the US. We announced our first international expansion to Canada recently. And so on both sides, both with workers seeking extra income but also businesses who are trying to fill their needs, which has been extremely difficult now more than ever, we're really happy to help make those connections.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, let's pick up on that point, Sumir, because we have spoken to so many business owners in the hospitality sector who said, look, those employees we used to be able to get in through the door pre-pandemic just are not coming back. So the fact that your app is now seeing demand from that sector, what does that tell you about how these companies are now thinking about the hiring process?

SUMIR MEGHANI: I think it's important that we think about how the future of work and how its change applies to hourly workers. And they've traditionally been left out of the conversation. We spend a lot of time here in Silicon Valley talking about engineers who want to work from the beach. And do people want to come back to the office and work on Zoom? But nearly 100 million Americans work hourly. It's over half of the workforce.

And what they said and what they're telling us is that flexibility is sort of the equivalent of Zoom for them. One of our pros-- I was speaking to Carrie. She's a mother of four in LA. And she struggled financially during the pandemic and wants to return to the workforce. And for her to be able to create her own schedule, work when she wants to work and where she wants to work, is something that they're asking for. And so I think for businesses to be successful in hiring and retaining qualified employees, flexibility is paramount.

And I think you guys had a segment just earlier talking about the World Bank and people being thrust into poverty. Well, in America, average hourly worker has less than $500 in savings. And so especially if you add inflation on top of that, a service like Instawork is enormously useful to help bridge that gap and help people earn extra income on their own terms.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah. What are you seeing from workers on the app? Are they typically trying to pick up 8 hours a day, just being able to build up their own work schedule, or are more and more people increasingly turning to the app to maybe make some extra cash? Because to your point, the prices-- the cost of goods are just going up.

SUMIR MEGHANI: Well, we see both behaviors. They're very common. We have users who are working fairly regularly on the app but maybe taking time off when they want to, for example, travel. But we also see a lot of pros who are just using Instawork to make extra income. 90% of our professionals say that flexibility and higher pay are the two biggest reasons they're on the app. And most of our pros can make, on average, double their state's minimum wage in the markets we operate in.

So it's more money, and it's money on the terms that you want. And the great thing about it is if you do find a company that you love or the next job of your dreams, It can potentially even turn into a full-time or permanent job. And so both sides have the opportunity to try before they buy as well, which we think is great for the market.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Earlier, Sumir, you mentioned an example of one person that uses Instawork to staff their own schedule. Is there a certain type of demo that you're noticing that is using your app primarily? Something I think about is the child care element of all of this, especially with COVID and the weirdness around that. For women, this might be specifically useful if there is that kind of limitation on the times by which they could be working. Is that a demo that you're targeting here with Instawork?

SUMIR MEGHANI: Well, it's funny. It wasn't a demo we were particularly targeting. But especially when the pandemic hit, there were a lot of moms, particularly working moms, who wanted to get back into the workforce, who saw Instawork as a vehicle to get back, earn extra income to support themselves and their families. And Carrie is one example of that.

Dan Altman, who's our chief economist, published some data couple of months ago that-- we looked at wages earned by men and women on Instawork, and there's no gap at all in that sense. Our app rewards everybody who has the skill and the will to work. And so we think that services like ours can do a great job of creating equitable economic opportunity across gender lines, across ethnic lines.

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, Sumir, really great to have you on today. Interesting perspective on the labor market. Sumir Meghani-- he is co-founder and CEO of Instawork.