For temporary workers, housing can be a hurdle to success

As a nationwide labor shortage lingers across industries, gig workers have become the glue holding businesses and operations together. But for transient talent, finding a place to call home can be an unexpected challenge.

The pandemic left various industries dangerously short-staffed, and in an effort to mitigate the loss, the need for temporary positions has skyrocketed. In fact, the gig economy experienced 33% growth in 2020. About 1.1 billion on-demand gig workers exist worldwide, and 2 million new gig workers emerged in the U.S. in 2020 alone.

But for gig workers who can’t do the necessary job from home — such as healthcare professionals traveling to COVID hotspots or firefighters traveling coast to coast to help with unprecedented fires — the seemingly simple act of finding a place to stay while filling these roles has become an added stressor.

“[Temporary workers] are ready to do really important essential jobs, but they have nowhere to stay,” says Carlos Abisambra, president and CEO of Travelers Haven, a company that specializes in providing housing on demand. “They can’t really go to hotels, they can’t go to a vacation rental site because it’s just going to take too long [to find and book.]”

According to Travelers Haven data, their customers spent anywhere from two hours to 30 hours searching for housing on their own. By contrast, Travelers Haven matches workers with vacant apartments throughout the country, then furnishes them and sets up utilities on their behalf.

”By the time they show up they just need to pick up the keys, move in and they’re ready for them to do the important work they do,” Abisambra says.

Travelers Haven currently works directly with individuals searching for housing or on a referral basis for employers eager to connect workers with fast solutions. But with the increased acceptance of hybrid offices and remote workforces, even for full-time positions, Abisambra suspects that the need for on-demand housing will not be limited to emergency hires for long, and even anticipates this kind of support evolving to an employer-sponsored benefit.

“There are a lot of interesting dynamics happening right now,” Abisambra says. “It may be a good time for [employers] to lean in into this whole flexible digital worker and start adding benefits. Because the last thing you want is for your associates to spend 20 to 40 hours each finding housing — you want to either focus on their job or their families.”