Flexible Staffing: Your Labor Shortage Solution When Temp Staffing Fails

Companies are embracing flexible staffing over traditional staffing agencies and seeing better results. It's a shift, aided by technology, that better suits the needs of today's workforce.

So, when do companies most often make the shift from “temp” to “flexible”? And what are the results? Here’s what we’re hearing in our discussions with companies.

Two ways to tap temp labor

We often hear companies describe their approaches to temporary staffing in two buckets:

  • One-off: When a need for help pops up, companies make the call in for a certain number of people and hope they show up. You may be able to request certain individuals, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get them—or get the number of people you need.
  • Fixed: With an upfront commitment, a company sets the dates and the number of people needed. Because most temp agencies want their workers filling 40-hour weeks, there’s more assurance—but there are also tradeoffs. 

How is flexible staffing better than temp staffing?

At Instawork, we’ve seen businesses leverage flexible staffing in new and interesting ways that fit their models—for more of the pros and less of the cons.

Here's a closer look at all of these models:


Fixed / Seasonal


How it works

  • Request the # of people needed for that day
  • Require the same people for every shift, with set shifts
  • Ad hoc
  • Set ranges


  • It’s efficient: You only pay for the labor gap.
  • It’s consistent: Working with fewer people means more familiarity.
  • Efficient
  • Consistent
  • Recruiting pipeline built-in


  • Luck of the draw. You hope for those you like to come back but can’t guarantee it.
  • Churn negates the benefit
  • Inflexible. Less ability to adapt based on the day’s need.
  • Upfront investment to build a roster

How companies use flexible staffing

Kreyol Essence saves on HR admin time

When the beauty brand moved its fulfillment operations from a third-party logistics company to in-house, the team needed to ramp up with temporary workers. Being a lean management team, Instawork allowed them to save time on HR administration, eliminate the hassle of no-shows, and find reliable, high-quality workers who fit their culture—and even became full-time staff. Read the full story >>

Sun Basket found people to work peak weekends

The meal kit delivery service was facing challenges with peaks in valleys in weekly workflows and struggled to find a staffing solution that could flex with them. With weekend peaks that were hard to fill, Sun Basket found a solution with Instawork. Reliable people, excellent fill rates, and weekend help enabled the company to find a better rhythm. Read the full story >>

On-demand fulfillment shifted to 90% flex labor

In a competitive local market, this on-demand fulfillment company struggled to find warehouse labor. The help they could find was unreliable and required even more time and effort to train and manage. When they realized the best workers were already balancing other jobs, the company split shifts into smaller chunks to make them available to more workers—and tapped Instawork to find the quality they needed to make staffing easy and turnkey.

How Instawork helps you handle staffing seamlessly

These approaches to flexible staffing are helping companies to be more nimble—but they’re only as effective as the solutions they can partner with. With flexible staffing, everyone needs to be in sync for things to work. There’s more coordination and communication required. But with Instawork, that coordination and organization are built-in. It’s the secret sauce that makes our platform so reliable and scalable.

In fact, there’s a lot that we do behind the scenes to make the magic happen (and get demonstrably better results than our competitors). Here are a few ways we differentiate ourselves in both our technology and our services:

  1. Real-time view of our labor pool near you
    We know who is available, and all the particulars that allow us to help companies find the right matches, which builds reliability into our solution.
  2.  Closing the last-mile, no-show gap
    GPS tracking through our mobile app helps workers get to your location on time.
  3. Online & offline training programs
    Our app includes detailed instructions, training refreshes, and advice left from other workers. Plus, once they are onsite, they are also greeted by an experienced Instawork Shift Lead to help get them settled in. 

The bottom line: Temporary staffing agencies just don’t work anymore. They can’t keep up with the agility and availability businesses need. And they’re not attracting the best workers anymore. Today’s workforce wants more flexibility, on to work on their terms. To find these high-quality workers, businesses need to go where the quality is—and Instawork has it in spades.