Gig apps for a pandemic economy: Part time, no commitment | Local Business

The restaurant chain Chipotle uses Stint to recruit workers “at short notice to cover peak times in our restaurants,” said Jacob Sumner, its director of European operations. Chilango, another food chain, said its stores use the app when they need “extra pairs of hands during busy times.”

The use of apps to connect businesses and workers for short-term gig work appears to be a growing trend in the United States as well.

“The biggest change we see is this desire for flexible staffing on both sides,” said Sumir Meghani, CEO and co-founder of Instawork, which connects businesses with temporary or short-term hourly workers.

During the pandemic, Meghani said, businesses discovered that the rise and fall of viral cases — and the resulting disruptions to their operations — sometimes require them to scale up or down at any given notice.

Greater flexibility in the worker-employer relationship during the pandemic period is also what Gigpro’s founder, Ben Ellsworth, has observed. His app, which operates in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, is expanding, to try to address staffing shortages exacerbated by the pandemic.

Ellsworth, who spent years in the restaurant industry, said that with eateries in particular, workers have been “plagued with low wages, lack of incentive, no real focus on flexibility or quality of life.” Stuck at home after being laid off, many of these workers either turned to other industries, Ellsworth suggested, or came to recognize gig work as an opportunity to tailor their work hours to their own needs. That realization arrived just as businesses, too, sought workers to fill part-time hourly slots — at least temporarily — as business restrictions eased.