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First-Hand Look at On-Demand Economy Reveals Workers Love Flexible Hours, Relatively Good Pay


Since 2009, software-based companies such as Uber and Airbnb have completely disrupted entire industries, inspiring creative entrepreneurs to dream up new ways for consumers to instantly connect to service providers. As mobile phones have moved beyond communications devices to become wallets, taxi providers, and food delivery hubs, the other side of the equation is rarely discussed.

To find out more about those working in the on-demand economy, Walker Sands, one of the nation’s fastest growing PR and digital marketing firms for technology companies, conducted interviews with Chicago employees for Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Dryv and Postmates. Chicago artist David Alvarado then illustrated some of their most memorable experiences. The report, titled The People Who Power the On-Demand Economy, reveals that while on-demand work hasn’t replaced traditional full-time jobs, the industry’s workers are finding real value in the new opportunities presented.

Some key insights the report covers about the workers in the on-demand economy include:

  • Happiness Increases: More than half (63%) of those interviewed reported being happier since starting work with a platform company
  • Part-time is the Norm: Most of the workers we talked to (63%) were working either full-time or part-time somewhere else, including other on-demand companies (24%)
  • Workers Don’t Use These Services: While these people work for on-demand companies, only 38 percent actually use on-demand services, and most use only ride-sharing services

“As a PR firm that works with rapidly growing technology companies, we’re always curious to see behind the scenes,” said Mike Santoro, President of Walker Sands. “Now that these companies have become integrated into our lives, and are held up as business models of the future, we wanted to take a closer look into the ways they work. We found that people’s experiences ranged from thinking passengers were getting ruder to reporting that their job’s flexibility helped ease their social anxiety.”

The People who Power the On-Demand Economy incorporates the perspectives of these workers as well as comics and illustrations from Chicago artist David Alvarado.

About Walker Sands
Walker Sands is a public relations and digital marketing agency for business to business technology companies. With offices in Chicago and San Francisco, Walker Sands was founded in 2001 to provide data-driven marketing support for a wide array of companies with the business mission of providing best-in-class communications counsel and services. Walker Sands is a two-time Inc. 5000 Honoree and has received several other industry-specific awards, such as PRSA Skylines, Hermes and PR Daily, among others. To learn more, visit

About the Report
To create this report, we conducted interviews with 29 workers in the on-demand economy. These are people who work for Instacart, Dryv, Postmates, Uber and Lyft. Survey methodology comprised 20 questions, ranging from demographics to opinions and stories about their contract work. The report is also illustrated by local Chicago artist David Alvarado, whose work can be found at He visualized the most interesting and memorable experiences of our survey participants to give the report its artistic dimension.