Uber Technologies is developing an on-demand staffing business called Uber Works, and the tech giant has been testing the service in Chicago.
Uber Works would provide events and corporate functions with temporary workers, such as servers or event staff, according to a source familiar with the project. The company has been running a pilot version of the business-to-business service for the past few months.
Depending on the business partner using Uber Works, the temporary workers — who, unlike Uber drivers, are hourly employees — could supplement a company or restaurant’s existing staff. If an event planner needs more servers at the last minute, for example, he or she could use Uber Works.
Many of the details surrounding the service are still being developed, including launch and expansion plans, the source said. The Financial Times first reported that Uber Works is being tested in Chicago.
Besides its ride-hailing service, Uber also offers its food-delivery service, Uber Eats, in Chicago. Additionally, the company has been building out its Uber Freight business, which matches carriers and shippers.
Uber reportedly is preparing to go public next year. It’s common for a company looking at an initial public offering to try to increase its value by rolling out new products or bulking up existing ones, said Todd Louderback, an audit partner at Deloitte who works with public companies and companies preparing to go public.
“The more stories that you can sell … the more impactful your IPO will be,” he said.
The new temporary labor service places Uber in competition with other gig-finding companies that are already operating.
Chicago-based Shiftgig, for example, launched in 2011 as a job board and has grown into an on-demand platform for a range of service industry workers in 13 cities.
“Uber in any form is definitely a formidable competitor,” said Eddie Lou, co-founder and executive chairman of Shiftgig. But, he added, “iIt validates the marketplace and it validates the business. People are interested in this type of work.”