Developing the technology that is powering the gig economy: A chat with Tony Macklin

A self-confessed geek, Tony Macklin’s interest in technology was sparked by computer games as a teenager. However, unlike most adolescents, he went on to develop an inventory control program for his father’s business at the tender age of 14. His interest lay in how the existing program could better fit the needs of employees; the start of a long-held interest in the relationship between technology and people. Tony still believes that truly understanding customers lies at the heart of developing great technology solutions.

Joining Coople in 2016 as CPO, Tony is responsible for enhancing the way Coople connects people to jobs. We sat down with him to discuss how technology is changing the way people live and work.

Prior to joining Coople, you worked at eBay and Ancestry.com. What prompted you to make the leap?

I’ve been lucky to work at many companies that have changed the world in some way. eBay created a step-change in how we buy and sell. Ancestry.com made it possible for people to discover their family history online; I like to think of it as a Facebook of those that came before.

The common factor is the use of technology to solve human problems and impact our lives for the better. When I came across Coople, I was fascinated by the potential for technology to change the world of work and increase the level of choice for workers. Delivering this self-determination is important. In the UK alone, close to 5 million people have made an active choice to work as temps, contractors, or freelancers as they strive to juggle employment with other commitments. Coople gave me the chance to help people balance life and work, touching their lives in a meaningful way.

With that in mind, how can technology change the workplace for the better?

The internet has changed many aspects of our lives, but until recently it had not won in the world of work. This is because work is a human endeavour that cannot be governed by algorithms. However, there is an important role for technology in the workplace. It can help people and businesses succeed by connecting workers to the right jobs and managing the communications process that enables this.

On-demand staffing platforms like Coople have been developed to help employers find skilled, flexible workers, even when they need staff at short notice. This helps businesses to respond to fluctuations in demand and ensure shifts are filled. It also lets them run their businesses more economically, using on-demand staffing to dramatically lower overall staffing costs. For workers, we make it easy to select jobs based on location, experience and availability. It is this ability for businesses and workers to better connect and engage, in a way that meets the needs of both sides, that will revolutionise the industry.

You have worked with some of the most exciting technology brand around. What has motivated you throughout your career?

The phrase ‘I didn’t know the internet could do that,’ is what drives me. Technology is at its most powerful when it is solving human challenges in surprising and unique ways. To do this effectively you need to talk to your customers, understand their problems and develop innovative approaches to tackling these. At Coople we have spent a huge amount of time talking to our customers and our Cooplers to understand their challenges. These conversations will guide our approach to product development as we continue to power the gig economy across Europe.