With the rise of the gig economy, companies like Uber (transportation), DoorDash (food delivery), Wag (dog walking) and Rinse (laundry) were launched into the public spotlight. For a moment, it all seemed too good to be true. Customers could press a button and get just about anything instantly and people who wanted to make a little money on the side were jumping at the chance to turn on an app and have work ready and waiting for them. As many workers began to rely on these "gigs" as their primary source of income, the downside was the large pool of underpaid working people with no employer or any sort of job security. Fast forward a few years and we're seeing the repercussions unfold. News reports of class action law suits, litigation and arbitration make headlines every week. The complaint is that these companies misclassify their workers as 1099 independent contractors instead of W2 employees.
When Uber released their S-1 to file for their IPO earlier this year, they mentioned,
"We believe that drivers are independent contractors because, among other things, they can choose whether, when, and where to provide services on our platform, are free to provide services on our competitors’ platforms, and provide a vehicle to perform services on our platform. Nevertheless, we may not be successful in defending the independent contractor status of drivers in some or all jurisdictions. Furthermore, the costs associated with defending, settling, or resolving pending and future lawsuits (including demands for arbitration) relating to the independent contractor status of drivers could be material to our business.”
Several months later, we saw the beginnings of this warning come true. California passed Assembly Bill 5 which makes it much more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors. This hits gig economy companies particularly hard as they rely on a large number of contract labor to fulfill their fluctuating demand. While this is a small step in the right direction for workers, companies like Uber and DoorDash who rely on this type of labor are scrambling to fight back while making contingency plans for what may come in the future.
At Block, we took a radically different approach to labor than your traditional gig economy company; one that is a stepping stone toward a more stable, secure future for our workers while providing them with the flexibility that drew them to the gig economy in the first place.
We worked closely with a labor and employment law attorney to craft a model that gives our mowers the flexibility of a contractor with the security of an employee. Each of our Mowers are vetted and hired as W2 employees, paid on commission (plus tips) and given the freedom to set their own hours and pick up work when they want to. We believe that we can not only build a sustainable business through Flex Workers, but help usher in a new breed of companies that value their workers and prioritize their needs. While the foundation for this decision was to do right by our employees, we discovered many distinct advantages for our customers as well!
We want our customers to know exactly what to expect every time they interact with Block. But in order to craft a great experience that's consistent no matter who services your property, we needed to be able to craft a great culture first. Once a Mower is hired, they go through our on-boarding event called Starting Line where we share our origin story and our values (generosity, service and joy), train them in industry best practices, give them their uniform and introduce them to others on our team. And it shows. We get emails, phone calls and reviews from our customers who talk about how one of our Mowers served them so well, going above and beyond to make sure they were well taken care of.
Secondly, we have the joy of getting to go on ride-alongs with our mowers and equip them with further training in order to help them improve the quality of their service as well as their speed. This not only helps improve their effective hourly wage, but improves the end-result for our customers as well.
Finally, we get to have fun with incentives! By hitting milestones, winning friendly competitions and participating in company events, our Mowers are provided with opportunities to earn bonuses while also pouring back into Block's culture as an organization.
Not only are we committed to taking care of our customers, we're committed to taking care of our workers. That starts with providing them the flexibility AND security they need but the end game is providing them with a company culture that they're exited to be a part of.
From the very first time I started pitching Block, I have always said that we’d give a portion of our revenue back to underserved areas to see them revitalized for the community and I don’t have any plans to change that. That’s why every time you get your yard mowed with Block, we set aside a small portion to give back. To restore value. To restore dignity.Read the Article