Airtasker has also set up a specific service for users to request contact-free deliveries from Coles. Its contact-free delivery jobs have increased by 230 per cent week on week.
“With Coles and Woolworths being unable to fulfil those deliveries, we have started to fill that,” Mr Fung said.
He acknowledges that if a more complete lockdown happens in Australia due to coronavirus, Airtasker would experience a “massive reduction in volume”.
However, Mr Fung is bracing for an increase in demand in coming months as thousands of Australians lose their jobs and businesses.
“It’s so important to have that ability to ease back into work,” he said.
A range of gig economy platforms including ridesharing, Airbnb and food and courier deliveries remain operating throughout this period as essential services, though the volume of bookings has been a concern.
Uber has declined to comment on how the virus was affecting its trip volumes in Australia but on Wednesday the ride sharing platform emailed users to remind them “the most important thing they can do now is stay home”.
Associate Professor at UTS Business School Sarah Kaine warned work across the gig economy could dry up at the exact moment more Australians signed up to work on these services.
“Where there has been a forced contraction in the way we’ve had, then the type of discretionary spending you see in the gig economy is going to be impacted,” Professor Kaine said.
An over-reliance on gig economy work during these periods could also encourage Australians to engage in riskier behaviour, such as accepting jobs in strangers’ homes despite warnings to social distance, she said.
“Because that’s the entire source of your income, there becomes a built-in incentive to work in risky situations, either while being ill or being exposed.”
Founder of contactless delivery service Zoom2U Steve Orenstein said his company had seen strong demand from new drivers.
“There’s definitely an increase in people wanting to sign up — where people have lost their jobs, they’re looking for an alternative,” Mr Orenstein said.
The company is being cautious and evaluating how many new delivery operators it can sign up, however. Mr Orenstein said he was aware further shutdowns or a drop in consumer spending could impact delivery volumes significantly.
“Nobody knows how substantial it will be — it’s more, ‘will there be businesses?’ That is the uncertainty.”
Emma is the small business reporter for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne.