Look, it’s the holiday season. I’ve got a to-do list that’s shaping up to take me down in a violent hail of unmarked check boxes and a vicious hurricane of paper cuts. There’s just too much that’s clamoring for attention. However, the nice thing about all of my problems these days? I can blithely go to the internet, type in a non-judgmental request and see what sort of solutions Google spits back out at me. In this case: “who will do my chores for me?”
The good news is that the crowd is ready and available to help people get some of the more menial tasks off of their plate. Thanks, AskSunday.com – a virtual assistant that bills in 5-minute increments for tasks like data entry, travel arrangements, and outbound calling. Thanks, TaskRabbit.com – a service that will send a worker to your place to do anything from picking up your dry cleaning to cleaning your bathroom (the work force here is mostly composed of under-employed or retired volunteers who get paid per task – you name the price). Not to mention the gigs section of Craigslist where I can pay anyone for an afternoon of heavy lifting.
I also found lawnmowingonline.com (with service in Houston, St. Louis, and Miami) where people can schedule lawn mowing for as little as $19 the day before they want service and lawnmowingonline will assign someone from their pool of 300 contractors who are looking to pick up some extra money.
That bad news? I still can’t really afford any of these solutions. I’m afraid that the burden of my grocery shopping, cooking, and letter writing still lies with me. However, in an age where we can pay Mechanical Turk workers $.01/task, I am glad that tasks in the real world are still valued at a level slightly beyond my reach. I want to be able to pay people what they are worth – one of the key challenges facing the crowdsourcing solution.
I am also glad that there are still a lot of options for people who need a little extra scratch (especially around the holidays).
What do you think about asking folks to take on your to do list? Would you trust the crowd with your list of chores? How can we make sure that people are paid what they’re worth?