Negative sentiment in the fibre industry

94% of the fibre workers we spoke to for Pickr’s Fibre Worker Survey 2019 said they’d still be in the industry in 2 years’ time. This suggests there are high levels of engagement in the sector, yet further discussion revealed some deep-seated frustrations.

We look at 3 of the biggest issues that came up in the survey and examine how technology can solve them.

The problem: Lack of trust

Mistrust seems to be the most pressing issue in the fibre industry. Unsurprisingly, money is often at the heart of the matter. “Too many companies offer the world and then refuse to pay you at the end of the job”. Understandably, ‘getting ripped off for wages’ was one of the biggest worries expressed by fibre workers. For businesses, it was the reliability of the people they hired.

Whether it’s failing to show up, downing tools mid-job on a promise of better rates or businesses refusing to pay on completion, it’s a vicious cycle that threatens the speed and success of the UK’s full fibre roll-out.

“Most companies I’ve worked for self-employed will rip you off in a heartbeat, or want it done at the cheapest rates. One of the reasons why a lot of people are turning to fibre is because of the money. There are so many who dangle the carrot despite all the various factors which affect the fibre industry-it’s unreal!”

The solution: Evidence your work

Withheld pay happens when the quality, completion or competence of your work comes into question. When you remove those questions, you reduce the chances of non-payment.

Pickr’s Work Audit Tool is an easy and effective way to document what you’ve done for the powers that be. This tool is an in-app feature that allows you to document what you’ve done.

Having created a ‘work pack’ with  your images, synthetic codes and notes, you can forward this portfolio of evidence to the powers that be. Images taken through the app are geo-tagged, verifying the exact time, date and location you took the picture, proving you completed your work as directed.

Even if you’re working in the back and beyond, the Work Audit Tool will sync all your work as soon as you get signal again. Get proof, get paid!

The problem: Poor workmanship

After pay disruption, ‘other colleagues’ were the biggest frustration for people working in fibre. A surplus of fibre work with great earning potential has seen an influx of workers join the industry, sometimes to the annoyance of their more experienced colleagues.

“They do a two-week course, get told they are fibre engineers and expect £50k plus jobs. Anyone can splice on a level, dry desk in a classroom. It takes experience to do it up a pole, with freezing fingers in the dark.”

Having new people enter the industry is crucial to closing the skills gap the industry currently faces but many professionals worry inexperience and a lack of support for new starters results in shoddy workmanship.

Fibre work is a skilled role which can take many years to master. In an industry where CV’s aren’t commonplace and you can spend a whole career honing your craft, how can you show your value to set yourself apart from the novices?

The solution: Champion best practice fibre work

Like any industry, working in fibre should be a meritocracy. A quick look at the fibre professionals on LinkedIn or trades groups on Facebook shows a cohort of professionals who take pride in their work. Many fibre workers upload their splices to social media, liking and commenting on each other’s successes and shortcomings.

Pickr’s portfolio feature captures that pride and uses it to promote best in class fibre work. It acts as a portfolio of your skills, showing your experience to prospective employers, rather than just telling. Proving your skill-set in this way sets you apart from other workers and increases the likelihood of securing future work.

This system quickly weeds out amateur fibre work and promotes best practice. We’re also working on some exciting review features for 2020, which will allow businesses to positively rate the best people they work with. This will then flag up recommended worker profiles to other providers on the platform.

The problem: Poor communication

Poor communication plagues all walks of life and the fibre industry is no different. Frustrating and costly, a lack of communication leads to disjointed and ineffective processes. That could be lack of clarity over pay from sourcing work through friends and colleagues or recruiters mismatching your skills to jobs in order to top up their commission.

It’s also common on site. A detailed job pack is all well and good but if you can’t complete the work because the person before you failed to do their bit, where does that leave you? On those occasions, it’s also notoriously difficult to get hold of the person managing the site. Shifting blame for incomplete or incompetent work is all the result of communication breakdown.

“My team and I would get very frustrated as a result of our time being wasted, either in planned networks or just thrown into an area which was not completed and ready for building.”

The solution: Increased clarity

Technology not only streamlines the frustrations of traditional fibre recruitment; it also makes it more transparent. This is particularly prevalent when it comes to pay. Businesses using the Pickr platform have to be upfront about the rates and the parameters of the job. The way the ‘Work Opportunity’ is profiled leaves no room for ambiguity. This ensures workers can make informed decisions about the jobs they commit to.

There’s none of the uncertainty that haunts work sourced via word of mouth or through the back and forth of a recruiter. Whether the job is paid by synthetics, day rates, or per job pack, the type and amount of pay is clearly detailed. If you don’t like it, you’re not obligated to show an interest in that job.

We’ve already mentioned how the Work Audit Tool can help you evidence work you’ve completed but it can also evidence the work you can’t. If there’s a van parked where you need to dig, damaged ducts or blockages, documenting it through the app verifies the issue. Adding notes and synthetic codes to the images you’ve taken provides a clear picture of the challenges you’ve faced. It can then be sent directly to supervisors or site managers on any platform, even if they don’t have the Pickr app.

 

From Uber to Amazon, there are countless examples of how technology have streamlined common frustrations to help their users. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do for fibre workers with the Pickr platform.

Are these your top three fibre gripes? If not, we’d love to hear what about the challenges you face as a fibre professional. Your insight can help shape the platform as it grows. Drop us an email at hello@pickr.works.