Side is a company with a compelling mission: to transform the experience of temporary work. Founded in 2016, Side is the first temporary work platform in France, connecting job seekers looking for temporary work with companies hiring for temporary positions. The company has seen rapid growth, with more than 100,000 candidates and 2,000 companies across France already using the platform.
“We provide the technology that helps applicants find the best short-term role for them and perhaps eventually even find a long-term contract,” explains Hugo Michalski, Co-Founder and CTO at Side.
Ensuring that applicants can easily commute to their job is a critical step in matching applicants to the most suitable roles. The Side team realised that it needed a way to show candidates how long their commute time to any potential job would be, no matter the transport mode. That's why the product team chose to use the TravelTime API.
Displaying commute times helps applicants choose the right job
Before implementing the TravelTime API, the Side platform used distance as a metric to determine how commutable a job would be for a candidate. However, the limitations of this approach soon became clear.
“We quickly realised that using kilometres wasn’t a good enough proxy to understand whether or not a worker would be able to arrive on time at a given location,” explains Hugo.
Commute time is an important factor for candidates deciding whether to apply for a role. When it comes to temporary work, no-shows can be a common occurrence, often because candidates don't have full visibility on how long their commute time will be.
“We learned that for applicants, what's important is not how far away a job is, but how much time it will take you to get there," says Hugo. "The longer the commute time, the more likely it is for someone not to show up at all.
“At Side, one of our biggest priorities is ensuring that no-shows are next to none. And applicants understanding their travel or commute time is an important part of this."
Since Side operates in both rural and urban areas, it needed a tool that could calculate commute times between different locations by different modes of transport.
This is because commute preferences often depend on where you live. If you live in a big city where there is excellent public transport infrastructure, you may not have a car and need to use public transport. However, if you live in the countryside where there are fewer public transport links, you’ll most likely need to use a car to get to work. In both cases, the availability of different modes of transport will often impact where you're able to work.
Using the TravelTime API to calculate commute times and match applicants to the perfect role
After considering several different solutions, the Side team chose to implement the TravelTime API.
With the API, they would be able to calculate accurate travel times between a candidate's home and a job location for any mode of transport, including public transport, throughout the country. Additionally, the Side team could use the API to get a better understanding of the risks before confirming the selection of a candidate for a given job.
“We created a benchmark, and no other tool was good enough. For example, other solutions didn’t have accurate public transport data – the hours were approximate,” explains Hugo. “TravelTime was the tool that stood out: it was the most reliable and the scope of its transport data was broader than any other service we considered.”
Implementing the TravelTime API was a straightforward process: “We were able to do a proof of concept very easily before deploying everything to production."
“TravelTime was the tool that stood out: it was the most reliable and the scope of its transport data was broader than any other service we considered.”
How it works
The Side platform includes a mobile app for applicants and a web platform for companies. Companies can post their jobs and requirements around the clock and candidates can respond to a job post at any time.
“Our job is to connect applicants and companies as fast as we can. As part of that process, we use TravelTime.”
– Hugo Michalski, Co-Founder and CTO, Side
To effectively match applicants with the right job opportunities, the Side platform must first qualify the requirements of a job and the most suitable candidates. This means collecting information such as a candidate’s qualifications, the type of work they want to do and when and where the job will take place.
Of course, location data – such as where the candidate lives and the areas they can or want to commute to – is essential.
As Hugo explains, “If you live in the countryside, being 10 kilometres away from your potential workplace means something very different than if you live in a city.”
The job location and the candidate’s location are pushed to the TravelTime API to calculate travel times. This data is then used within Side’s algorithms to determine whether the role is a good match for an applicant. While a range of factors is considered, travel time is the most important.
Crucially, each worker can see how much time it will take to get to work if they were to be selected for a particular job.
“The idea is to give applicants as much transparency as possible so they can make the best decision. Commute time is an important indicator of whether or not a candidate will want to take on a role,” says Hugo.
From distance to time: more accuracy and a better user experience
Implementing the TravelTime API has had a significant impact on Side, both operationally and in terms of its user experience.
“Switching from kilometres to time has transformed our business because we’re now able to provide candidates with travel time information. Before, this was pure guesswork,” says Hugo.
“Giving applicants more visibility about how much time they’ll need to spend commuting has helped us drive the right candidates to the right jobs.
It has also improved the user experience on the platform. Now, applicants know immediately how long it will take them to travel to a job, helping them decide on whether to accept a role.
“Having the common language of time is a game-changer,” says Hugo. “Whether you live in the countryside and work in a warehouse or live in a big city and work in an office, the common language of how many minutes you’ll spend commuting – whether that’s in your car or on the subway – has helped us provide a simplified and efficient interface for our users.”
"The common language of how many minutes you’ll spend commuting – whether that’s in your car or on the subway – has helped us provide a simplified and efficient interface for our users.”
The TravelTime API has become an integral part of Side’s data processing and algorithms. As Hugo explains, “The TravelTime API has helped us be more reliable. Travel time is key in our business: without it, we wouldn’t be able to operate to the same high standards we currently do.”