“You tell us what you need and we make it happen,” explains Woody Klemmer, the co-founder and COO of Laborocity, a Philadelphia-based supplier of on-demand workers.
Call it Uber for business or TaskRabbit on steroids, it doesn’t matter. The year-old company just hopes project and plant managers call when their warehouse suffers a flu outbreak or needs extra hands for a big order rather than spend several precious hours trying to handle it themselves.
“Traditionally, it takes weeks to find employees,” co-founder Joe Barba says. “And manufacturers are already swamped today.”
When a manager faces a talent shortage due to call-offs or an unforeseen incident, they usually have to post a job on Craig’s List or Indeed, wait to schedule and conduct interviews, and then make the hires.
Manufacturers, construction companies, and warehouses from New England to Philly have used the staffing site for material handling, industrial cleaning, HVAC, production, and office work. Unlike the one-to-one services of TaskRabbit and Uber, you’re getting on average four to 16 workers for multiple days.
For the clients, the service, part of a growing trend of Labor as a Service (LaaS), eliminates the headaches involved with hiring.
Laborocity’s streamlined process takes about three minutes to post a job (at no cost) and an account manager sees it within ten minutes, day or night. Shortly after, the job is e-blasted to Doers who will start signing up and could be on the job the next day.
“Within hour you can have relief,” Klemmer says. “It’s about as fast as a Tylenol.”
The client also gets peace-of-mind with the actual product they’re getting: the workers, which Laborcity refers to as Doers.
“We have a pool of very bright, polished, pre-screened college age kids,” Klemmer says. “Companies see a lot of value in that and have found a million different uses for them.”
Doers apply online and indicate their specialties and proficiencies and may receive a face-to-face interview with a recruiter. The “intensive” background checks are paid for by the Doers as well. Only 3% of applicants make it on to the system and they are rated (five-star system) at the job sites to ensure quality control.
The burdensome little details that come with hiring, from payroll to taxes, are also handled by the service.
"I don’t have to manage all of the time-consuming aspects that make a project run right, and anytime you can find a company that can save you time on the job site, it becomes a golden ticket,” says Rich Offito, senior project manager for MLP Builders. “Time becomes the most precious commodity for the entire project and Laborocity saves me days, sometimes weeks, on my projects.”
The temporary fix is also flexible, offering more or less workers during the project’s high and low periods, as opposed to bringing on new labor that might not always maximizing their potential.
“The complications with this are what to do with the manpower during the slower periods?” Offito asks. “How do I run the risk if I lay them off, lose them, or the manpower goes to another company? When I’m using one of their Doers, I’m actually not laying him off, but instead, I’m sending the Doer back to his labor pool to be reassigned.”
Sometimes the company doesn’t want to let go of the Doer, and hire them full-time.
“It happens all the time,” Klemmer says. “As much as we want to keep the doers, it’s awesome if they can find full-time job opportunities. The customers are psyched and they always come back to us for more.”
Not every worker is mid-20s, hungry for any job. Some Doers are in their fifties, and have been hired for business process analysis, high end consulting in legal compliance, process mapping and project management. Klemmer mentioned one “really bright mom, looking for opportunity and to make money, but not looking for 60 hours a week.”
“This is repurposing people with fulltime jobs, not just the people sitting on their couch,” Barba says. “These are people working 40 hours a week and want to pick up an extra 20.”
Klemmer and Barba both organically found as entrepreneurial high school students in Boston and Philadelphia, respectively. They’d place fellow students who needed extra cash in temporary jobs mowing lawns, restoring houses, or moving furniture. This continued throughout college and both men started their own companies before merging to form Laborocity.
“We realized we could put a lot of the workforce back to work,” Klemmer says.
Since March 2017, the company has grown by 1,400% and quadrupled its own workforce to 18. They currently have 100% retention rate with clients and look to expand to more regions. The company believes that with the new tax cuts, stricter immigration laws and potential $1 trillion infrastructure plan, their on-demand service will be more in-demand than ever.