At the start of lockdown things went quiet, suddenly and dramatically. Seasonal work dried up overnight, of course, but nobody was growing, nobody was hiring, nobody was replacing the natural attrition of retirees and departures.
Behind the desk sits Frank – 40 something, thinning hair, rimless glasses, avuncular demeanor and a quick smile. He tells me how the demands have changed since the early days of the pandemic. So many more people are looking for part-time, flex-hours, anti-social shifts and the like. Everyone, Frank explains, is looking for something on the side. A top up for their reduced earning in the downturn of the economy, and the shutdown of society.
He tells me how much the business used to depend on the seasonals, the itinerant backpackers and the students. Remote working, and remote learning has meant that both supply and demand have shifted.
Everyone has proved, he is sure, that remote working just works. His agency is looking to pivot more towards the gig economy. Tasks completed rather than hours spent. Not so much a job – never mind a career – as a series of orders and contracts to be fulfilled.
Times are a’changing, and Frank is being changed with them, for better or for worse, but probably forever.