Could The Gig Economy and Surge Pricing Have Saved WA from the Downturn?

It’s oh so very quiet out here in the wild wild west.
Years have passed since the resources, energy and construction boom. Big projects worth gazillions of dollars that brought people to WA from all over Australia are done. WA is now picking up the pieces.
$750K houses in mining towns are now worth $350K. Perth rentals are the cheapest they have been in years and there’s a glut of vacant commercial property on the market. Beer is still bloody expensive, wage growth is awful, but thankfully amongst all this doom and gloom the price of coffee has decreased and balance brought back into the world.
The last few years has seen the rise of the gig economy around the world. Like the NBN, it’s slowly catching on here in Australia. The gig economy is all about individuals being engaged by organisations to complete very defined pieces of work in relatively short periods of time, otherwise known as a scope of work. It’s the same idea behind tiling my bathroom – I’m not going to pay the tiler a salary and keep them on after the job is done.
Technology has enabled the gig economy to grow. Through various apps, people are now able to advertise the work needing to be done, and get paid for it in a very seamless, efficient manner.
[Tweet “#tech will grown, sustain, and improve the #gig #economy till it’s a viable #mainstream #jobs model”]
Back in the boom times, when there were big projects spanning years, people were engaged in long term contracts which lasted several years or more. Multiple large projects strangely all took place in roughly a ten year period. This locked those people away for substantial periods of time, reducing the availability of resources and skyrocketing salaries. The snowball effect on the WA economy is well documented and I won’t go into detail. Let’s just say things got expensive, fast.
Had organisations taken a different approach such as the growing gig economy, would things have been different? I think it might well have been a very different outcome for us sandgropers.
Taking a scope of work approach could have had the following outcomes:

  • Increased availability of resources;
  • Leading to lower costs (salaries, oncosts, project costs, housing, industrial relations disputes etc.);
  • Increased productivity (short term contracts would typically see higher contractor output as the contractor would seek to be re-engaged for future scopes of work);
  • Surge pricing as skills became more in demand may have seen projects better scheduled so as to not compete with other projects, keeping costs down.

This scope of works approach is already done at a micro level in projects such as land development, a house build etc. It hasn’t yet made its way down to the individual contractor level to the extent it has in other regions.
[Tweet “With major projects long since dead, #Perth needs to reimagine how it attracts #talent “]
I’m certainly not saying this would be easy to manage. There would be challenges to this approach as there are now:

  • Scope of works need to be drafted correctly and then managed accordingly;
  • Managing and administrating hundreds let alone thousands of individual ‘giggers’ would be a nightmare, and;
  • Unions would be up in arms.

But technology is here to save us. Whilst the gig economy is slow on the uptake here in Australia, there is a burgeoning technology startup scene looking to address some of these challenges. Companies like OnContractor, WePloy, and NVOI are some recent ones I’ve come across. All have their niche, and will do well in their markets.
If you’re wanting to learn more about the gig economy, check out some technology or service providers, and network with like minded individuals, then you should be attending ATC Contingent Workforce Conference in Sydney.
Image: Shutterstock

The Contingent Workforce Conference is only a few months away. Don’t miss out! Tickets available here.

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