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 developing technology that is powering the gig economy by 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 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.
We also chatted with our Head of Training and Quality Assurance, Ignat Kostadinov, to learn more about his journey to Coople. Click the link here to read his story.
Meet Amanda, who used Coople to work flexibly as a chef allowing her to follow her dream of setting up a food photography business.
Introducing Amanda: using flexible work as a chef to achieve her dream
24-year-old Amanda Canever moved to London at the start of this year, after a year-long stint in Dublin. Originally from Brazil, she moved over to Europe in 2018 seeking a new, creative environment. “I’ve always loved the European lifestyle,” she said.
Amanda is a self-confessed food lover – she studied culinary arts at university and has five years of experience working as a pastry chef. However, she always dreamt of starting up her own business as a freelance food photographer. Ultimately, Amanda wanted photography to be her main job and source of income – no mean feat. “In the kitchen, you don’t have time for yourself. The hours are really long,” Amanda explained, reflecting back on her time working as a full-time chef. “Every week you have a different day off, so it was impossible to plan anything.”
How does Amanda approach flexible work?
Luckily, upon moving to London, Amanda found a solution that enabled her to continue to work flexibly as a chef and begin to start her own business – Coople. She knew that working as a chef on a freelance basis would be much more flexible and would fit around her lifestyle. When she downloaded the Coople app, she realised she could book casual shifts working as a chef. This offered her some financial stability and a work schedule that was completely malleable to her wants and needs. It also gave her the spare time she was seriously lacking.
This flexibility meant she could finally start her freelance food photography business. She had the time to dedicate to it, and crucially, no strict bosses that she had to ask for time off. She also didn’t want to give up entirely on her work as a chef. With Coople, she could easily balance the two.
At the start of this year, inspired by London’s creativity and photography scene, she took the plunge. “It’s challenging, but I love a challenge,” she explained. “I’ve always loved the artistic side of food and capturing it in my photos. Now, being a chef is my side business – my photography takes priority.” Typically, Amanda books in for two chef shifts a week on Coople, and spends three or four days a week focusing on her business; always changing up the days to ensure variety in her work life.
Balancing photography with a chef career
This flexibility is her favourite thing about Coople. “I can arrange what time I’m going to work, and how I can fit it around my photography – that’s the main benefit,” she explained. She tends to book Coople shifts a week or so in advance. Time management is key for Amanda, but Coople lets her manage her time in a way that truly works for her. “The most challenging thing for me is creating a good balance between the two facets of my work, but Coople has massively helped with that.”
Now, less than a year since its launch, Amanda’s freelance photography business is thriving. While Amanda gets to work for a variety of clients in a job that embraces her creative side – and all on her own terms.
“Now I balance my work using Coople, my lifestyle is much better. I can plan everything as my schedule isn’t always changing like it did when I worked full-time as a chef. And my personal life as a freelance chef is the best. I get to have so many experiences, and make lots of different contacts at the same time.”
Check out some of Amanda’s beautiful work through her Instagram account: @caneveramanda
With technology fast reshaping the worlds of work and talent acquisition, it is little wonder that Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) events are always jam-packed. This week hundreds of people gathered for the 2019 conference on Collaboration in the Gig Economy. Conversation buzzed as attendees discussed the evolution of work and considered the newest and most effective ways to manage staffing. In amongst it all, Coople founder Viktor Calabro participated in a panel discussion on new trends in the Human Cloud.
The world of work is evolving fast
Work is no longer solely defined by permanent jobs where people are employed directly by a business. As we found at our recent Breakfast Roundtable, millennials are looking for more flexibility in how they work, seeking life-style appropriate hours in locations close to home. At the same time, digital-first businesses such as Uber have disrupted traditional employment models, looking for on-demand staff who are not direct employees. With both of these factors in play, it is little wonder that 30 per cent of companies are now hiring temporary labour across all job levels, according to the SIA Talent Study 2019.
With the world of work shifting fast, organisations need to explore new staffing models. Enter the Human Cloud; the fastest growing segment of the gig economy.
What is the Human Cloud?
The Human Cloud is made up of online staffing firms that connect people to businesses looking for flexible workers. For staff, this means flexibility when it comes to where and when they work. For employers, it means instant access to skilled workers, with user-based ratings helping them to select reliable and experienced teams.
The Human Cloud is not a new phenomenon, however, it has reached a new level of maturity – it is actively helping organisations tackle skills shortages and scale up staffing during peak seasons. According to SIA, the total Human Cloud spend reached an estimated $82billion globally, growing by 65% in 2017. But, with its popularity booming, what is next for the Human Cloud?
Investing for success
One of the biggest opportunities for online staffing platforms is boosting service innovation. The panel discussed different approaches to this with some focused on looking to new vertical sectors such as marketing. However, as Viktor told the crowd, Coople is concentrated on perfecting the skillsets of our workers. From chefs to mixologists or wait staff, we plan to be the best at providing the most talented people in the business.
Regulating the Human Cloud
The issue of worker rights in the gig economy has been an issue of contention over recent years, making headlines on numerous occasions. However, as we have discussed, the world of work is changing and regulation needs to evolve in line with this. Many panellists called for government recognition of the demand for flexible labour from businesses and workers. However, all agreed that, within this, the rights of workers must be protected. As Viktor reminded the audience, Coople is focused on creating a world where working flexibly is simple, safe and satisfying for workers and businesses. We are committed to being part of the solution.
Looking to the future
One of the biggest questions around Human Cloud businesses is when they become profitable. Many of these organisations are scale-ups carving out roles in a relatively new market-place. However, at this early stage, Viktor suggests the goal should be winning market share rather than profitability. However, he does note that there is a huge opportunity to boost innovation and new services which will be drivers for future profitability. For Coople this means a hybrid ‘Tech and Touch’ model where we bolster our online platform with on-the-ground support to onboard and assist customers.
The way that people work has changed radically over recent years and will continue to do so. However, in line with this, businesses have evolved their talent acquisition processes. More of them are looking at online staffing platforms that quickly provide skilled staff with the right experience while ensuring that worker rights are protected. It is this type of Human Cloud solution that will continue to evolve with the market to ensure that both businesses and workers get the best deal.