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The idea of working full time for one company may soon be a thing of the past. Nowadays, more and more people are opting instead for a flexible approach to earning an income.

It’s not only workers who are embracing the gig economy. Companies have also cottoned onto the idea of on-demand staffing, rather than hiring salaried employees. As a happy result, both parties are enjoying the benefits of integrating the gig economy and HR.

What exactly is the gig economy?

Traditionally used by musicians to define a performance, in today’s terms a ‘gig’ refers to any job that lasts for a specified period of time. Examples of this include anything from writing articles and designing a website to delivering food, driving for Uber or temping at an office.

Even universities are choosing to cut costs by hiring contracted employees instead of going the more traditional tenured route. Technology has certainly aided in the growing popularity of the gig economy.

Human cloud platforms have succeeded in connecting people from different parts of the world and allowing them to work together. But while globalisation has increased opportunities for both employer and worker significantly, there are downsides to consider.

Workers might enjoy more freedom and flexibility, but in exchange for this they forgo traditional perks such as paid sick leave and a guaranteed monthly income. On the other hand, employers could find that gig workers aren’t as invested in their business.

That said, the trend is showing no signs of slowing down. If anything, it’s grown increasingly popular as workers embrace the value of work/life balance and businesses the benefits of a more affordable workforce.

The gig economy and HR: a match made in digital heaven

While by no means a comfortable experience, the COVID-19 pandemic did a great job of highlighting areas that could benefit from change. Obsolete ways of doing things came under scrutiny as we hustled to make ends meet.

Although the gig economy took root well before the pandemic, the reality that we could work from anywhere only really hit home in the midst of it. Now that it’s finally in the rearview mirror, we need to put our learnings to good use.

Returning to the status quo is always tempting, but in a world that favours agility, the tried and tested route could lead you to a dead end. There’s no doubt that the relatively new dynamic of the gig economy poses organisational challenges for HR, but it might just turn out to be a better staffing model overall.

The old approach to career development and talent acquisition is in dire need of a revamp. By embracing the technology that’s driving the gig economy, businesses are better equipped to find the right person for the job in as short a time as possible.

We sat down with Coople’s CPO Tony Macklin to discuss how technology is changing the way people live and work. He had some interesting insights to share on the subject.

Young woman using technology in HR - gig economy

Technology is changing the way people live and work

A self-confessed geek, Tony Macklin’s interest in technology was sparked by computer games as a teenager. However, unlike most adolescents, he didn’t stop there. At the tender age of 14, Tony went on to develop an inventory control programme for his father’s business.

What started as a desire to see how the existing programme could better fit the needs of employees, quickly developed into a lasting fascination of the relationship between technology and people.

Tony still believes that truly understanding customers lies at the heart of developing great technology solutions. Since joining Coople as CPO in 2016, Tony has sought to develop technology to power the gig economy by enhancing the way Coople connects people to jobs.

Prior to joining Coople, you worked at eBay and 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. 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 and the gig economy 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 gig economy.

You have worked with some of the most exciting technology brands 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.

Ready to embrace the gig economy?

If the idea of the gig economy has piqued your interest, why not get in touch with us to learn how Coople can help you hire a flexible workforce when the need arises. Seasonal demands can be hard to prepare for and unexpected staff shortages are exactly that, unexpected.

Take a look at some of our case studies to see how partnering with Coople helped brands just like yours avoid the potential fallout altogether. Go ahead and sign up for a free account to get started or request a call with us if you like to know more. We’re always happy to help.

If you found our interview with Tony interesting, you might also enjoy the chat we had with Ignat Kostadinov, Coople’s Head of Training and Quality Assurance. Click here to learn about his journey to the company and how he intends to revolutionise the world of work.