TecHRseries Interview with Mathew Ward, Founder & CEO at Workmate

As the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic play out, cost optimization and efficiency will be more critical to businesses. Since businesses are faced with uncertainty right now – no one knows if and when another lockdown will be needed – so they need to be very nimble and lean, and this includes manpower costs. HR Solutions that help companies do this will find a lot of customers in the coming months according to Mathew Ward, Founder & CEO at Workmate. In this QnA with TecHRseries, Mathew shares his observations on the HR Tech industry in APAC and discusses the key highlights since launching Workmate. Catch the complete QnA:



Tell us a little about yourself Mathew …we’d love to hear about your biggest takeaways from your professional journey so far and also the story and idea behind Workmate.

I’m originally from New Zealand but have been living in Asia for 17 of the past 20 years, with the last 13 being in Singapore. After exiting a previous business in 2012 I was looking for the next idea to sink my teeth into. It took a while to find an idea that excited me, but in 2016 I started Workmate after discovering the huge challenges faced by informal, Blue Collar workers in getting regular consistent income, while businesses who needed manpower found it hard to find and retain reliable manpower. We saw that this was a very real, but solvable problem – Workmate has been making great progress in solving this problem, but there is still a lot of work to do.

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What new plans and innovations do you have for the Workmate platform?

We are evolving the platform from being a digital version of a staffing agency (where we are today), into a fully automated labor marketplace for the blue collar workforce. This includes providing a complete suite of workforce management tools to complement the curated worker network that we have built over the last few years.

How are you seeing the Covid19 pandemic impact the demand and use of online staffing platforms for on-demand workforce?

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online staffing and other solutions that help clients manage their manpower more efficiently. We are seeing that businesses who historically hired their workforce on full time contracts are now more open to exploring flexible manpower options in order to reduce fixed costs. Like many industries, COVID seems to have helped accelerate digital adoption.

How do you see this pandemic impact the global talent and work marketplace today?

It’s changed the market forever. We have all had to quickly change the way they work – across all industries – and this has reshaped how people think about work, productivity, and the need to be in a physical location to ensure output of a certain level. I think you will see greater focus on output and outcomes from employees vs hours spent. This will reshape how companies hire, what type of skills they look for, and how they compensate people. I think it’s been a bit of an awakening for many companies as its forced them to test their long held assumptions and think differently. I think the overall impact will be positive in the long term.

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What are your thoughts (top evolving trends) and biggest predictions in mind for HR Tech in the APAC region?

There has been a clear increase in VC investment in the HR Tech space in APAC over the last 2 years, and more of the traditional HR companies are setting up investment arms to make strategic investments. Its definitely becoming a sexier space for investors. We have also just seen the launch of the first HR Tech accelerator in the region with ‘Workplace Accelerator’, so the space is definitely heating up. So on that note, here are some predictions for HR Tech in APAC over the next 12-24 months:

    1. We will see at least one funding round in the region of US$20m-$50m from Southeast Asia in the next 12 months
    2. Traditional HR companies will start to make strategic acquisitions, leading to at least 1 acquisition worth US$50m+
    3. We will see investment in HR tech cross $1bn in APAC in 2021 

A few general thoughts / tips for businesses worldwide dealing with the current world pandemic?

In the startup world its incredibly important to get laser focused on profitability. A clear path to profitability is more important than top line growth right now. So stay nimble, stay lean, and if you can raise capital, take as much as you can get (even if you don’t plan to spend it).

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Workmate is an online staffing platform for the blue collar workforce, delivering qualified, reliable workers to business in Indonesia and Thailand since 2017. Focused on logistics/warehousing, F&B, hospitality, events and promotions, the Workmate platform automates the process of worker onboarding, selection, scheduling, attendance management, and payments.

Mathew is the Co-Founder & CEO of Workmate.

APACCOVID-19HR TechnologyInterviewson-demand workforceonline staffingWorkforce ManagementWorkmate
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