The gig economy is as competitive as ever: Reports from various agencies estimate anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the workforce participates in the gig economy, and about 10 percent of those workers rely on such arrangements for their main income source. 

National staffing agency PeopleReady has been connecting people with “gig” work — often a piecemeal of temporary jobs — relevant to their skills for almost 30 years. Specializing in industries like construction, hospitality, manufacturing, transportation, and more, PeopleReady offers flexible solutions to companies looking for workers and people looking for work. And with the increasing popularity of the gig economy, the company — headquartered in Tacoma with more than 600 branches across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico — recently launched an app called JobStack that offers even more flexibility and efficiency to companies and workers. 

“There are two apps: JobStack for workers and JobStack for customers,” explained PeopleReady’s senior vice president of operations and innovation, Rick Betori. Those on the worker app — referred to as PeopleReady associates — get there by completing an application and going through a hiring process with PeopleReady, done through a local outlet of the company. This process allows PeopleReady to review the person’s qualifications, skills, and the type of work she wants to do. 

Once she has onboarded with the company, however, she essentially is her own boss. 

“On JobStack for workers, the first thing they see when they log in are available jobs based on their schedule,” Betori said. “We give them all the information they need to make a decision: the pay, how far it is from their search location, the start time, the description of the job, everything.” 

Associates can choose jobs they want to do and schedule different gigs for the entire week — as many or as few as they want. The app shows them their schedule, reminds them where they need to be and when, and gives them options to rate jobs and review their hours immediately after completing the work. 

The system that JobStack is beginning to replace is a clunkier version that requires constant phone calls and emails and likely caused many missed opportunities for workers, Betori said. 

“Associates would travel into a branch unsure what jobs would be available,” Betori said. “A branch would get a call in the morning saying that a (PeopleReady customer) needed six workers that day, and the branch manager would look out over the counter and pick out six people and send them to the job.” 

JobStack streamlines that process both for associates — who now need not travel into the local branch to find work, and who have much more control over what they will do and when — and the companies that use PeopleReady to find workers. Those companies range from small businesses to Fortune 500 firms. 

“We have customers who said that they left at 9 p.m. not realizing they needed (a few) more people tomorrow,” Betori said. “Before JobStack, they’d have to wait until the next morning to call the branch and ask for more people, which we could maybe send over by noon. Now, the customer can go in and just add the order, and it can start filling at 9 p.m. rather than the next morning.” 

JobStack for customers is a separate app — though it does hold hands with the workers’ version. Just as associates can go into the app and find jobs, build schedules, and rate experiences, companies that seek work from associates have more efficient control over the process through the app. 

When customers place an order, the app shows them recent completed orders, and they can enter the billing rate agreed upon with PeopleReady. The company enters how many people it needs, on what dates, and at what times, with options to make further details to expedite the process. 

PeopleReady has been slowly introducing JobStack to branches across the country since 2017 but didn’t officially announce the product until this August. In the first part of 2019, JobStack filled jobs every 9 seconds and was used by almost 17,000 companies, with 55 percent of dispatches placed outside of traditional branch hours. 

Having filled 4.8 million shifts since its launch in 2017, it seems like the app is on the right track. 

“A lot of folks are looking for a lot of different types of work and putting together a number of different gigs — fitting them into their schedules,” Betori said. “JobStack is helping us fill jobs more quickly, but it’s also helping people find more opportunities. They can connect with work that fits them and take more control over their schedules and their lives.”