By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An app is helping solve some of the pandemic-induced labor shortage. It connects daily workers with employers.

At Lula’s Garden in Los Angeles, ’tis the season for succulents.

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But CEO Liraz Birnbaum says getting holiday help during the pandemic worker shortage is a challenge.

“Have you hired any people that haven’t shown up?” asked CBS4’s Carter Evans.

“Definitely,” she said.

Now instead of placing a want ad, she orders workers on an app.

“And you have a worker show up the next morning?” Evans asked.

“A worker shows up the next morning,” she responded.

“Do you have to send them a paycheck?” Evans followed up.

“No, that’s the best part,” she said. “Once you put the credit card on the app, it just charges automatically.”

Sumir Meghani founded Instawork in 2016.

“We’re economic opportunity at the touch of a button. A worker can create a profile, get to work within a day,” Meghani said.

Business took off when COVID hit.

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“The whole workforce changed how they work during the pandemic,” Meghani said. “They’re not just looking for better jobs or higher pay, they’re looking for more flexible work.”

That appealed to Chester Lemon, who lost his job during the pandemic. Now he has a selection of shifts and pay.

“I can comfortably say I am my own boss,” he said.

One day he’s working at a clothing designer warehouse and the next he’s working a concert.

“I did BTS this past weekend,” Lemon said.

And the best part for him?  Getting paid immediately.

With more than 1.5-million workers in 25 U.S. cities, the company can also provide real-time economic insight. Since April of 2021, wages on the app are up an average of 20%.

“We found that about half of our professionals aren’t willing to work for less than $15 an hour,” said Meghani.

Like most insta-workers, Lemon is an independent contractor with no benefits or overtime.

“Do you ever see yourself having a regular nine to five job again at one place?” Evans asked.

“It’s going to be hard right now because I’ve gotten so used to this,” he said. “You can just make money tonight, tomorrow. Any time you feel like it.”

For now, the job flexibility is priceless.

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Instawork charges employers a commission but workers pay nothing. Team