Local effort named ‘most innovative not-for-profit organization’ by Fast Company
It was only supposed to be for 12 weeks.
But a year later Get Shift Done, the pandemic-spurred effort from co-founders Shift Smart’s Patrick Brandt and Perot Jain’s Anurag Jain, is still providing work for underemployed and unemployed hospitality workers.
“We didn’t really plan on doing this for a year,” Brandt said.”We thought it was going to be at the max a 12 week program, and it was going to be in our backyard in North Texas only — we never envisioned being in 12 different regions across the country.”
In the earliest days of the pandemic, Jain and Brandt (who both live in Preston Hollow) came up with a solution to three issues – unemployment because of the pandemic, an increased need for the services many nonprofits like the North Texas Food Bank provided, and a lack of volunteer availability because of COVID-19.
The result was Get Shift Done, which provided many suddenly unemployed with an income in exchange for working for those nonprofits. Launched in March, Get Shift Done has now grown to 12 regions across the country, and has helped serve more than 60 million meals with 28,000 workers helping 110 nonprofit partners. They’ve also paid about $15 million in wages for 1 million hours of shifts.
And the innovative way Jain and Brandt married Shiftsmart’s existing infrastructure to meet that need has garnered a lot of attention and praise, including being named the most innovative not-for-profit organization in a list of 10 by the magazine Fast Company in March.
But now — thanks to vaccines becoming more available and the nation getting closer to herd immunity — Brandt said he’s starting to see a slow change.
“I don’t know if I want to call it light at the end of the title because this has been one heck of a long tunnel,” he said. “But we are starting to see some volunteers come back, which is great, and restaurants, bars, and hotels are hiring again.
“ So we do hope that this is not a requirement going forward — but we are very proud of the fact that it was two, needs being met by one solution — hunger and food insecurity, and unemployment.”
But even with more people heading back to work, Brandt said that he sees a fundamental shift happening in just how people do that work. The pandemic, he said, has shown both employees and employers that many jobs can be done almost anywhere.
“Everybody keeps using the phrase ‘when things go back to normal,’ about the way they work,” he said. “But it’s going to be a new normal – and I think (Shiftsmart) is a good example of that — prior to the pandemic, we would only hire in our two offices — one in Dallas, one in San Francisco — but here we are a year later and we’ve hired something like 25 people remotely.”
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