UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome Jing Dong, Columbia, to host a research seminar discussing ‘Managing supply in the on-demand economy: flexible servers or full-time employees’.
There are different workforce models in the “gig” economy: traditional full-time employees (fixed) and independent contractors (flexible). To decide on the “right number of right people to staff at the right time”, managers must appropriately weigh the pertinent tradeoffs of operating costs and service quality, in face of varying customer demand patterns and supply-side uncertainty. In this work, we consider a queueing-theoretic framework where the number of servers can be random due to the inherited uncertainty in the flexible workforce. We develop two analytically tractable problem relaxations and establish their optimality gaps. The problem relaxations provide insights into the appropriate workforce model and the corresponding optimal staffing policy. We also study the impact of supply-side uncertainty on the quality of service offered to customers. Our analysis shows that more variability in the agent pool may lead to an improved quality of service. (Joint work with Rouba Ibrahim)