GetWorkers is launching a pilot of their scheduling technology, CrewDriver, through the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Economic Commission’s Green and Digital Demonstration Program (GDDP). Their product speeds scheduling and dramatically reduces labour placement costs with an easy, worker-friendly text message interface.
The GDDP allows local cleantech and digital businesses to pilot their products—at no cost—on city-owned assets to help accelerate commercialization. Beginning in August, the City will use the CrewDriver API to book on-call casual labourers for a 6-month pilot.
“The GDDP is such an amazing opportunity for us to do this. The staff at Facilities Management have been incredibly supportive. John McPherson with the VEC deserves a lot of credit — he’s been with us through the GDDP process from the very beginning.”
Jason Harmer, Owner, GetWorkers
We sat down with Jason Harmer, the Founder and Owner of GetWorkers, to give you a little insight behind how ethos-driven technology like CrewDriver can increase efficiency and even compassion in a conventional sector like human resources. Furthermore, the role played by the City of Vancouver in the GDDP is a prime example of how early adoption by large institutions is essential to bringing innovative tech and local IP to market.
A Deep Dive with Founder and Owner of GetWorkers, Jason Harmer.
Please tell us a little bit about GetWorkers.
We’re building automation technology for the complex process of negotiating on-call casual scheduling.
I was determined to integrate technology that cut the cost of schedule negotiation, and gave focus to the experience of the workers to foster their relationship with their employer.
What is CrewDriver and what drove you to create it?
Conventionally, when dealing with on-call casual work you’ve got two main options: either you spam the workers with all kinds of offers, hurting your trust relationships with them; or you offer individual shifts at a high-cost and low efficiency.
CrewDriver is an intelligent scheduling product. It handles the offering and confirmation process for on-call casual shifts through text message, all based on user or rule defined priority lists.
Our product gives you the ability to communicate with people in a fair and efficient manner.
You started in the event industry, right? Can you talk about work there and how you came to see the pain points that GetWorkers is trying to fill?
I started my professional career as a software engineer. After a few years, I became rebellious, and made the switch to production management for rock shows and festivals.
After over ten years in events, a mentor and I were exploring areas for improvement for labour in the industry. It’s all on-call casual and generally it’s painfully inefficient, unfair and causes grief to all involved.
We eventually uncovered that schedules negotiation challenges actually span a giant swath of employers, ranging from public organizations, logistics, to film and TV, and some union environments.
There were some scheduling products, but nothing specialized on casual labour.
How did you create the system?
We employed “The Wizard of Oz” method. We worked with a large lighting supplier who employed a high volume of on-call casual labour.
I sat I their office with their labour coordinator and manually sent text messages to their crew every day. We kept that up for 6 weeks and refined the idea iteratively to eventually create the beta.
That was over 5 years ago. We were lucky and had some big local players come on early, and we’ve been continuously improving our product ever since.
Did you really send a million text messages as part of this?
Yes! As of today we’ve crossed the 1.1 million mark.
CrewDriver is being piloted in the City from August onward through the Green and Digital Demonstration Program. What made you decide to come through this program?
The program was recommended to us by our Industrial Technology Advisor, Rizwan Kheraj.
It was an easy choice. The City is a high profile organization, and a major union employer. It’s an ideal opportunity to demonstrate our technology can navigate this complicated environment in a way that was fair to workers, and uphold the requirements of their agreements.
The GDDP is such an amazing opportunity for us to do this.
What are other kinds of large institutions, like a city, that could utilize your product?
Any organization that has consistent need for on-call workers.
If you’ve been to a show at Rogers Arena in the last four years, the show crew there are booked through CrewDriver. Their labour provider is Crew Call Services, and they’ve been great to us with support and guidance.
Our clients range dramatically in size, and are spread across a few industries. They provide services to event production, AV, hospitality, light industrial, promotion and product sampling.
We also sponsor theatres: the Fire Hall in Vancouver, the Port Theatre in Nanaimo, and the Massey and Anvil theatres in New West are all users.
What’s next for GetWorkers?
Finishing our API (application program interface) to link CrewDriver directly into other software. It should launch in November.
The API will help in three ways:
- Give gig economy startups a leap ahead in their operations by plugging into our system, rather than starting from scratch.
- Give companies with workforce management products, the ability to upgrade their system without implementing an entirely new product.
- Integrate further into other labour and rental management products to allow them to expand their offering to the on-call casual clients.
After November? We’re moving on to using machine learning to understand what jobs workers actually want the most, and then to help prioritize the offers they receive based on who they are and what they like.
Learn more about the Green and Digital Demonstration Program
Are you looking for an opportunity to demonstrate or pilot your technology in the city of Vancouver? Learn more about our GDDP Program.