A platform connecting people with members of their community to do work in and around the home, boomed in 2020 thanks to pandemic-induced lifestyle changes.
TaskRabbit was founded in the US in 2008 and launched in the UK five years later, before being snapped up by Swedish furniture giant IKEA in 2017.
It was born from the idea of ‘neighbours helping neighbours’ and has thrived in a year where lending a (socially distanced) helping hand has meant more than ever.
This year has seen thousands of new ‘taskers’ sign-up thanks to the pandemic, including head chef Nico Palumbo who was hit by the pandemic and now works 50 hours per week via the site as a handyman.
TaskRabbit connects people with freelance labour in their local community (stock image)
As of 13 December 2020, 1.2million UK employees had been furloughed, which meant they were unable to work at their normal place of employment, and most found themselves at home.
Meanwhile, others needed help for everyday tasks such as shopping, furniture assembly or minor home repairs, but couldn’t get it due to shielding or isolation restrictions.
TaskRabbit, which was already a popular platform to earn extra cash or to get things done for cash-poor and time-poor people, found itself in a good position in the middle of the crisis.
Meet three real life taskmasters
Jamie Sheridan is a tasker in Manchester
Jamie Sheridan, based in Manchester, started tasking part-time in September to earn more money for his family.
He works for a large energy provider, and has been working from home on a permanent basis since March.
He found being desk-bound with a slower pace of life difficult so signed up to perform tasks during evenings and weekends.
The 37-year-old said he has always found a joy in flat-pack assembly so said ‘being able to do this for others is great, being paid for it is a bonus’.
Billed as the ‘flat pack king’, two thirds of the tasks he has completed so far have been furniture assembly, and he said he’s most often asked to help with wardrobes.
He plans to keep offering his furniture assembly skills to the community, even when the world returns to normal.
Nico said TaskRabbit was a saviour for him
London-based tasker Nico Palumbo’s career as a head chef was impacted by Covid-19, as restaurants had been intermittently forced to close throughout the year and even still now.
But he found a way to continue offering his cooking and baking services through TaskRabbit, while pursuing his passion for gardening and garden design.
Since signing up to the platform in July, the 48-year-old has expanded his offering to include handyman-type services such as home repairs and furniture assembly.
He is tasking part-time for now, juggling around 50 hours per month on TaskRabbit, with work as a private chef in households.
However, he hopes to task full-time in the gardening category while continuing his garden design studies part-time.
Nico said: ‘TaskRabbit has been a saviour. It gave me the opportunity to get work that I wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.
‘As a chef, I was working in a sector that has been hugely impacted by Covid-19, so TaskRabbit was the perfect platform for me to get exposure for my skills and interests.’
Glaswegian Nicola Graham ‘tasks’ as a personal assistant and cleaner
Nicola Graham, 44, joined TaskRabbit platform in June 2020 after being furloughed from her job as a business travel consultant.
Not used to being in the house all day, and looking for a way to supplement her income, she came across an article about TaskRabbit and decided to sign up.
She put the skills she gained during her years in an office environment to good use in her home town of Glasgow by working as a personal assistant for around 10 hours per week.
She has also expanded her tasking to offer cleaning services too, and has built up a regular client base for cleaning tasks in her local area.
She plans to keep tasking in her spare time even once furlough ends.
She said: ‘I am so grateful to be a tasker during this period as it has kept me busy and sane. I have met some wonderful people.’
Although overall growth slowed initially when pandemic measures hit the UK, the firm said it saw immediate recovery to pre-Covid levels in June and since then, has maintained a steady growth monthly as it continues to rebound from the pandemic.
September and October 2020 were its busiest months on record for the UK, with bookings up 24 per compared to the same time in 2019.
Manchester and Birmingham saw particularly strong growth, with bookings up by 36 per cent in September, and 53 per cent in October.
Most requested tasks
The three most requested services in 2020 were furniture assembly, minor home repairs and help with moving home.
Requests for moving help rose by 45 per cent as people escaped cities and looked to make moves within the Stamp Duty holiday window, while those who stayed put sought help with household improvement.
Tasks such as painting and decorating, plumbing and electrical help all saw strong demand, up by a fifth.
A spokesperson for TaskRabbit said: ‘We have seen changes in demand which reflect the wider lifestyle shifts that have come with 2020.
‘For example, demand was up four-fold for delivery and errands services, while shopping tasks saw an increase in requests by seven-fold, as people sought help with everyday tasks whilst in isolation or quarantine.’
The company said taskers continued to offer services throughout the pandemic, in-line with local and public health guidelines and were offered PPE reimbursements,
Meanwhile cancellation fees for tasks cancelled due to Covid concerns were scrapped.
What is TaskRabbit?
TaskRabbit is an online platform that matches freelance labour to local demand for everyday tasks, including cleaning, moving, delivery and DIY.
It was founded by American Leah Busque who based it on the idea of ‘neighbours helping neighbours’.
Homeware store IKEA bought the company in 2017, though said it would continue to operate independently.
It first launched in the UK in 2013, starting in London and expanding to Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol in 2018 before going nationwide.
Since its UK launch, it has served more than 250,000 clients and enabled almost 600,000 tasks.
The service is currently available in more than 50 cities across Europe, the US and Canada.
You can sign up to become a Tasker or get a Tasker to help you here.
As for those who wanted to offer their skills and time, many of whom had been furloughed, more than 29,000 people applied to become a tasker in the UK in 2020.
TaskRabbit also introduced its new volunteering category as more people wanted to help those in need during the difficult period.
The spokesperson added: ‘Throughout the Covid crisis we have seen taskers supporting their neighbours by delivering essential items, and performing other services for free.
‘It has been fantastic to see them delivering food and prescriptions to those in isolation, or running errands for those unable to leave home.
‘Since introducing this category, we’ve received hundreds of UK tasker registrations in the volunteering category.’
In terms of registrations overall, the website saw a 24 per cent year-on-year increase in sign-ups over the year with the biggest jump in taskers seen in Manchester and Birmingham.
Leeds saw the number of tasker registrations increase by 20 times compared to 2019 while the categories which saw the biggest growth in tasker registrations at the start of the pandemic were in delivery, shopping and errands.
As the year went on, and restrictions were eased, the firm saw a shift towards DIY services and moving help, as demand for changes in living situations increased.
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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk