(Photo by Flickr user mescon, used under a Creative Commons license)
A staffing platform for hourly workers is planting a flag in Baltimore amid an uptick in firms seeking frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wonolo is launching in the area with more than 150 temporary opportunities. The San Francisco and Nashville-based developed a two-sided marketplace to help companies that needed to fill temporary roles find workers, and move quickly to do so. In 2020, it is particularly seeing roles in ecommerce, distribution and fulfillment — areas which are seeing more business amid distancing restrictions.
“Wonolo has been in existence since 2014, but during COVID with people buying online, we’ve been seeing a huge, huge increase in customers needing workers for warehouses and pick-and-pack,” said Naftali Nagar, Wonolo’s market manager for Maryland, referring to the process that gets online orders out.
People looking for a job can sign up for Wonolo’s app, then browse listings from businesses who post there. Sephora was the only named company, but the company said it had “dozens” of local firms signed on.
Wonolo’s approach finds the on-demand model that has come to rides and tasks being applied to staffing, as Nagar noted that many of the workers are seeking entry-level positions or second income. As with other services, the workers are 1099 contractors. Average hourly pay is $15.56, which the company notes is about 40% above the state’s minimum wage. Nagar said the company ensures the workers receive proper training, as well as flexible benefits and access to workshops.
The company attracts workers to the platform via social media and other referrals. So far, 8,500 people signed on in the Maryland-Delaware markets, which the company groups together internally. The expansion comes after the Tri-State area around New York became a strong market for Wonolo.
“We’ve been dipping our toes in the Maryland-Delaware market for a year or so, but now we’re actually going after business in part because we’ve seen success along the I-95 corridor,” Nagar said.
Zooming out, this expansion comes as ecommerce companies have been hiring in droves during the pandemic, even as other sectors have ground to a halt due to restrictions. Another uptick is expected with the holiday shopping season — typically a time when there is more seasonal hiring — starting even earlier.
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