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Fostering a Healthier Gig Economy: In Conversation with Rebecca Chiu, CEO, MyWork GlobalInterviews Management People Development April 10, 2017
With the rising gig economy and new work models coming to play, it is becoming extremely important for businesses to leverage on benefits provided by the liquid workforce, responsibly and sustainably. Nurturing on-demand talent availability for businesses in Singapore to ensuring rights of ad hoc workers are not compromised amidst disruptive change, Rebecca Chiu, CEO, MyWork Global speaks about her mission to help Singaporeans embrace digital and transition through sea change holistically.
- Emphasising on the brand line “Reinventing Shift Work”, what is the idea behind this? What is the vision of the company with new workplace models coming to play?
With the evolution to the gig economy and the growing significance of the liquid workforce, the role of ad hoc workers have come ito focus. Businesses cannot ignore the benefits of leveraging a liquid workforce, and ad hoc workers enjoy the benefit of flexible working hours as well as alternative/additional income streams. Mywork’s mission is to use its technology to integrate workers and businesses responsibly and sustainably into the gig economy.
- What led and inspired you to establish this “on-demand” solution experience in Singapore, with MyWork Global then, when freelancing as a concept was at its nascent stages some years back?
While running my Thai-tea chain (Soi55), I realised that part-timers and on demand workers played a big role in my operations. Yet there was no proper platform that helped us source, track and review the people that we recruited. Freelancing, on the other hand, has traditionally been focused on tasks that require specific skills, such as design, programming etc.
Mywork is more holistic and reaches a far wider audience, as it allows for typical freelancers as well as other ad hoc workers who may be looking for any general work to generate alternative income streams.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages offered by this platform, facilitating added convenience for people being able to pick up projects “without commitment” anytime, anywhere?
Mywork provides a wide and continuous range of jobs for the 25,000 people on our database. The benefit is that workers have the flexibility of choosing the businesses to work at, and timings that suit them. More importantly, they have the stability to know that there are always gigs on the platform, that gives them the opportunity to earn the amount they desire.
Added conveniences for workers are that, the app records their total earnings, CPF contributions, completed jobs and allows them to source for new jobs all at the click of a button. This helps workers provide proof of income and shows all the experience that they have gained on the app.
- Does this concept of offering add-on flexibility to businesses and employees alike – of being able to choose when to work, how much to work and where to work, create trust issues when it comes to handling projects of a confidential nature? What are your views?
Coming from a legal background, I take confidentiality very seriously. We trust that businesses are in the best position to decide on the best possible way to protect their confidential information. We also encourage businesses to execute non-disclosure agreements (these are relatively straightforward and can be obtained at little cost) with their workers should they feel the need to.
- How does MyWork Global help foster a healthier gig economy, wherein rights and protection of freelancers continues to be a much debated issue by the MOM during parliament sessions?
For the gig economy to work, workers must benefit from this new HR model and their rights and protection is key. Mywork’s check in and checkout function allows workers and businesses to pay employees by the minute, based on the time they check in and out of the gig.
Using technology, Mywork seeks to provide a clear and easily accessible record of income (in the form of MOM-compliant pay slips) and job completions, which can be referred to, and relied upon, in the event of a dispute.
- What are your recommendations to protect and secure the rights and interests of freelancers in a gig economy?
The idea of freelancing and ad hoc work should be a good option on its own and not merely a step towards obtaining a more traditional, full-time job. If this is encouraged, businesses will also start to take ad hoc workers more seriously and understand that, there is a permanent place for them in their organisation.
Mywork is taking active steps to arrange for group insurance plans and training courses for our database of workers. Mywork also protects workers by having the option to take errant businesses off the app.
- How can businesses better manage job re-design, and the on-boarding of gig workers?
The ideas behind job re-design are essentially for a business to (1) evaluate its existing HR policies with a view to maximising its resources by leveraging on a liquid workforce, (2) take advantage of technology in redesign efforts, and (3) alter job elements so that may achieve maximum output. If every business that, seeks to be part of the gig economy takes the above steps, then they would be well-primed to reap the benefits of a liquid workforce. These steps will help businesses lower their running costs as well as see greater worker productivity (each role is well-defined) and satisfaction.
- What will be the workplace of the future like, with different working models coming to play, battling the global talent crunch and skills shortage? How can businesses ensure data protection and security from breaches?
The gig economy is growing and here to stay. There is no dispute on that front. The battle on talent crunch and skills shortage will be won by businesses that internalise this change, and take active steps to mitigate this slow erosion of the notion of a traditional, 9 to 5 office job.
Such mitigation would include engaging in job re-design as well as understanding their business cycles and ramping up numbers needed for any particular business function accordingly. The perception that, the risk of data breaches would be higher in a gig economy is, in my opinion, somewhat artificial.
If an individual under your charge (whether as an employee or a gig worker) wishes to take any data, no piece of paper (i.e. not even a tightly-drafted employment contract) would prevent that.
However, businesses should be advised to use non-disclosure agreements for workers, who would be exposed to sensitive data and impress on them the effects of any such breach. It would also be imperative on the businesses to actively appoint a suitable data protection officer (as stipulated in the Personal Data Protection Act) to minimise any such risks.
- What are the subsidized training programmes (and certifications) offered by MyWork Global to train and reskill workers? To which industries, do these training programs cater to, at this point in time? What will be the soon to be added industries to the training modules?
Presently, Mywork is working with Mendaki Sense in rolling out a course for workers to help them understand the changes in global HR trends and how to adapt and have sustained employability in the new on-demand economy. They cater across the board to most blue-collar industries, as we foresee these workers requiring the most assistance. We are also in the process of rolling out another course, which will be business-centric to assist businesses engaging in job re-design.
- Tell us more about MyWork Global’s partnerships with SME Centre (SMCCI), Mendaki Sense, the Singapore Centre of Social Enterprise, and NTUC U Live and NTUC U Club.
We are members of the SME Centre (SMCCI) and work closely with them to help our clients benefit from the SPRING business advisory sessions. We also participate in various networking sessions and industry cluster meetings, so that more businesses benefit from our platform.
We are rolling out training for workers in partnership with Mendaki Sense, and also have an exclusive partnership with them for their career/job placement fairs. We have also actively conducted talks at their career fairs to introduce the changing landscape of the job scene, to workers of all demographics.
We are members of RAISE and have participated in multiple networking sessions. We are also in talks with fellow RAISE members so that, they may use our platform to either find volunteers/workers for their respective social enterprises or post-shifts/gigs that need to be filled.
We have conducted multiple presentations at NTUC ULive and U Club symposiums for older workers/retirees seeking to re-enter the workforce. The presentation was focused on how technology may be used to find and secure a job.
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