Handy: The Future of Work? (A)
Witnessing numerous lawsuits alleging that online platform companies misclassified workers as contractors when they were actually employees, Handy's founders faced a series of decisions. Handy was an online platform business that enabled customers to book appointments with cleaners at a convenient time and check the cleaner's ratings. Started in 2012 after the founders struggled to find trustworthy, affordable cleaning services while MBA students, by 2015, Handy enjoyed considerable success. Handy was one of the emerging platform companies in the gig economy that connected customers to service providers and sought to disrupt everything from transportation to grocery shopping to deliveries. Like many of these companies, Handy classified service providers as 1099 independent contractors, rather than hiring them as W-2 employees. Doing so often meant lower labor costs for companies and greater flexibility for workers. The companies' reliance on contractors was controversial. Workers, some argued, displayed all the marks of employees - they performed work that was integral to the companies' business and companies exercised control by telling them which jobs to accept and where and by using ratings systems to influence behavior. Facing two misclassification lawsuits of their own while still pushing toward profitability, Handy's founders must decide how to respond.