• Uber is set to launch Uber Works on Friday, an app that connects gig workers with temporary jobs across a range of industries.
  • Initially, Uber Works will be confined to Chicago, with Uber stating on its website that it "has plans to expand to more areas soon."
  • Uber is the biggest pioneer of gig economy work, since its core ride-hailing app relies on millions of drivers who are classified as contractors and not employees.

Uber is continuing to diversify beyond ride-hailing with the launch of a new app that matches gig workers with temporary work offered by businesses.

The project, called 'Uber Works,' is set to launch in Chicago on Friday. The firm has quietly worked on the project for the past year in the Windy City.

In a blog post on its website, Uber explained that it has partnered with local businesses in Chicago to offer would-be workers roles in six job categories: back-of-house, front-of-house, warehouse, cleaning, customer service and general labor. Jobs taken might include bartending, assembly-line work, or prep cooking.

Uber also explained the rationale behind Uber Works, stating that "a new, technology-first approach can provide faster and easier means for people to get work, while offering greater insight into the many opportunities for work that are out there--improving the experience for workers and businesses alike."

Uber Works is far from the first online platform to match gig workers with temporary work. Platforms such as Fiverr, TaskRabbit and Mechanical Turk provide comparable services, with the latter owned by Amazon and geared towards jobs involving s0-called 'human intelligence tasks.'

Uber is perhaps the biggest pioneer of the concept of gig economy work, since its core ride-hailing app relies on millions of drivers who are classified as independent contractors rather than full employees. That classification means Uber doesn't have to pay drivers for sick leave or holiday time, and is being contested by drivers around the world.

Though Uber Works is currently confined to Chicago, Uber's website states that the company has 'plans to expand to more areas soon,' without specifying any locations.

Uber's recent diversification includes a move into trucking with the launch of Uber Freight. In September, the founder and head of Uber Freight, Lior Ron, told Business Insider it aims to empower small truck business owners.

Its launch comes amid a challenging year for Uber, notably its disappointing IPO in May. The firm has warned that it might never be profitable, and said it would cause major damage to its business if drivers had be classified as employees.

--This post originally appeared on  Business Insider.

Published on: Oct 3, 2019