‘Uberisation’ – a sign of things to come?
In consulting, travels are unfortunately an occupational hazard, and I have used quite a few Ubers. Until automation takes over, I am having interesting conversations with human Uber drivers. Unbeknown to me, these chats became market research, where I was the one keenly taking mental notes; you can take the girl out of research, but not research out of the girl. Drivers freely shared their experience as Uber drivers, some were able to make comparisons to when they were part of a traditional taxi service. Clearly, as these conversations were with Uber drivers, there is an element of selection bias.
So, what tales did these journeys discover? Given some of the publicity in the press, I had expected perhaps a less favourable set of conversations in terms of their work conditions. However, the drivers I spoke to were generally a happy bunch; with the app, they have flexibility in terms of hours and location, as well as the efficiency of matching them to passengers nearby. Drivers have the autonomy to select the hours which suited their lifestyle; one chap was able to support private therapy for his autistic daughter at £1000 a month. No doubt the gentleman works hard, but it seems that the efficiencies offered by the platform allowed him to provide for his family’s needs.
The Uber platform directly connects together resource providers to those who require it, which includes more efficient transfer. Interestingly, the drivers feel that the platform also offers them protection against last minute cancellations, especially when a driver and car is en route, which wastes a driver’s time and fuel that traditional taxi services cannot accommodate for. As the platform provides real-time connections between drivers and their fares, last minute cancellation by the latter, especially when the driver is already on their way to a pickup, means they will be compensated. The combination of flexibility, responsiveness and fairness to both parties appear to be a hit. And given the popularity of taxi apps, the clientele obviously like them too.
The millennials and Generation Z are expected to be early adopters of the so-called gig economy, however, some of the biggest proponents from my somewhat unscientific survey are actually from the older generation. This appears to be a general trend in today’s workplace, whereby at least a certain proportion of the population value autonomy, flexibility and whether their profession would provide them with the right work-life balance. Until our beloved robot friends come to our rescue, this trend could stick around for a while! Could ‘Uberisation’ be a sign of things to come in the workplace?
Dr Wendy Ng, CISSP, CCNP; 4th September 2018