• Harrison & Ben

Russian roulette, CVs, and stigma


Hi, we're Harrison and Ben. We've started a social impact business called earwig. We want to make working life better for people in construction. We want to do this because it is currently underserved by the tech tools many others take for granted. Check out this table. It shows that digitisation isn't reaching tradespeople as much as it could. We'd like to help change that.

Recently we got some "tech-for-good" investment from investors including the Resolution Foundation. They look after workers in the UK, and help set the Real Living Wage, among other things. This funding means that me and Ben (and soon a software developer too) can work full-time on building tools to help.

Right now we're looking for people to talk to; people like you. We'd like to learn about you and your job, and get your feedback on ideas so you can influence our designs. Basically, we want to see if what we build would actually help you enjoy your job more.

Every two weeks, we will use WhatsApp to send progress updates to everybody who is involved. We'll also publish the updates here so there's a history you can view.

Here is our first progress update…


Here are some insights from our research so far:

🔮 Insight #1: Workers report that there is no way for them to find out what a job is really like before they arrive. This is because recruiters can’t or don’t provide enough accurate information upfront. In some cases, workers are afraid to ask upfront questions about jobs in case they are seen as trouble causers. This job “Russian roulette” can result in nasty surprises for workers, and makes them feel like they are taking risks when choosing jobs.

🔮 Insight #2: Recruiters report that CVs are an important part of choosing a worker for a job. Recruiters say the most important information on a CV is (a) the worker’s tickets and when they expire, and (b) references they can call to ask about the worker's previous workmanship. Meanwhile, workers have asked me and Ben to help them improve their CVs.

🔮 Insight #3: Workers report stigma around agency workers: that they are using agencies because they can’t get a “proper job.” At the same time, workers report they are using agency work as a plan B, supporting themselves while they learn other skills or start other businesses.

To make sure we have a full picture of the industry, so we can build the right thing, we want to hear from everybody who is involved in hiring and managing electricians – especially electricians themselves.

Here's how we're collecting these insights:


Interviews are useful as they give you an in-depth understanding of peoples’ values, views, and experiences. They allow you to ask specific questions, while staying open to exploring their points of view.


As well as doing interviews, we’ve become the personal assistants (PAs) to some electricians. This shows us exactly what electricians need when they’re at work. It’s a win-win. They get s**t done for free, while we get to learn about their needs (let us know if you’d like to join them).


Finally, we are testing three different product ideas using Facebook Ads, to see how many tradespeople sign up for them. This is the best way to tell how much of a need tradespeople have for a product or service. It shows us what to build, and stops us from wasting time and money building something nobody wants.

Want to help make construction work? Let your colleagues know that we’re here to understand and help solve the most painful problems they have at work.

Harrison & Ben

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