Picture this: You step out of your Uber, home from work, grab the Blue Apron box on your stoop and set it on the kitchen counter when you get inside. You lean down to pet your dog, while reading the note from the dog walker about your pet’s perfect behavior. You check your to-do list, reminding you to call your aunt to thank her for the birthday card and to send a check to the guy that cuts the grass. As you prep dinner, you eye the still-unassembled IKEA cabinet leaning against the kitchen door and, tired of the sight of it, grab your phone to set up a TaskRabbit assignment. Someone will assemble it tomorrow.
Sound crazy? Probably not. In 2018, outsourcing is a part of everyday life, so intrinsic to our schedules that, reading the above, you might not notice that the person in question seamlessly eliminated five common household tasks from her daily to-do list: driving, pet care, meal prep, lawn care and furniture assembly.
“People are starting to understand the value of having someone to do the things that they don’t need to do,” says Beth Adams, owner of Baltimore’s B At Your Service Concierge. Though she’s been in the business for nearly 11 years, amassing the staff and contacts to perform nearly any imaginable home management and personal task (barring, of course, impropriety or illegality), recently she says she has seen a significant shift in the way people approach outsourcing.
“I’ve seen quite a change in the landscape,” she says. “People are more apt to let go of things. Maybe it’s because they’re young professionals who are used to having things done for them, or maybe it’s because they understand that they’re going to be more successful and less stressed
because we’re in their lives.”
It makes sense: In our so-called “sharing economy,” in which people are willing to hop into strangers’ cars via Uber or Lyft, invite them to sleep in their houses via AirBnb and other similar services, or hire them to accomplish any number of random tasks via apps like TaskRabbit, why not hire someone to do your laundry, get your car washed or plan your next get-together?
Add to this mentality a fast-growing economy and a society-wide emphasis on productivity and it’s easy to see why outsourcing is becoming the new normal.
Just ask busy lawyer Amy Askew, who began using B At Your Service in 2016.
“I have a very busy practice that made getting everyday errands accomplished difficult,” she says.
She began relying on Adams’ team for all sorts of things: General errands, returning purchases, entertainment and even holiday decorating, she says.
Of course, convenience doesn’t come cheap. B At Your Service’s hourly rates start between $40-$50 and go up from there, depending on what else (or who else) is needed to accomplish a task. But for Askew, it’s more than worth it.
“It financially makes sense, in light of my professional hourly rate compared to the hourly rate of the service,” she says.
She’s not alone: In a July 2017 study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers proved that “spending money on time-saving services is linked to greater life satisfaction.”
Money, it turns out, really can buy you happiness — or, at the very least, a little more time to yourself.
“When our clients come home, I want them to be able to relax and recharge,” Adams says. “Life happens, and we’re there for when it’s not all flowers and sunshine.”