Follow Us:
Sunday, April 05, 2020

The Flexiworkers

I’ve had an insight about success — you can’t be successful at everything.

Written by Nandini Nair | New Delhi | Published: October 7, 2012 2:04:54 am

I’ve had an insight about success — you can’t be successful at everything.

I’ve had an insight about success — you can’t be successful at everything. You hear a lot of talk about work-life balance — nonsense. You can’t have it all. Any vision of success must admit what it is losing out on,where the element of loss is. And very often our idea of what it is to be successful is not our own…Make sure your ideas of success are your own. Make sure you are the author of your own ambitions,” said Alain de Botton,Swiss philosopher and author of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work,at a TED talk in 2009. Chandrika Pasricha,an IIM Bangalore graduate and a consultant at McKinsey for many years in India and New York,knows success intimately. But as Botton laid bare success’s limitations,she too realised the need to author her own ambitions. She quit her regular job,took up consultancies with development and healthcare organisations,and earlier this year came up with the concept of “Flexing It”. An online marketplace for skills,it brings together companies who are looking to fill a non-permanent post with professionals with more than eight-10 years of experience. The website,which went live only last month,has notched a 100 professionals and 20-odd companies in under two weeks. At Flexing It,companies pay for each job posting and individuals will have to pay a nominal monthly fee to be a part of the website (it is free as of now).

Flexing It and other such portals for non-permanent work opportunities fulfil various needs of the company and the individual. For a company,here is the chance to get a particular job completed in a defined time by the most suitable person. For an individual,it allows for more control over one’s work,possibly a more interesting work profile,a freer schedule and better pay. The idea of flexibility at a workplace also recognises that in our present economy where pink slips and layoffs are no longer an exception,permanent jobs are vanishing. As Delhi-based Pasricha says,“The myth about a full-time or a company job is vanishing. People have to take charge of their careers. Companies will not.”

Pasricha finds the Randstad Workforce360 Study (September 2012),which examined work trends in the US,prescient. It says that “many US companies are more committed to utilising a mix of permanent and contingent workers as a long-term business strategy in the post-recession economy…Many workers are choosing to work in a contingent capacity and finding higher job satisfaction from doing so.” With India’s economy affected by global trends,the idea of flexible work is gaining momentum here too.

Bangalore-based KROW (“work” flipped around),founded by Anilesh Seth,a growth strategist with over 25 years of experience,Narayan Krishnaswamy and Darshan Chinnappa,entrepreneurs and professionals in operations and sales in the HR industry,similarly aims to expand the meaning of “work”. It need not be confined to a 9 am-5 pm routine,six days a week,in a designated space,miles away from home. Seth explains,“KROW helps organisations think outside conventional job pools and connect with skilled homemakers,students,full-time workers,freelancers and retirees to meet just-for-time requirements at a fractional cost and with minimal overheads. Job-seekers can place a premium on their time and get paid for the work they do rather than merely the hours they clock.”

Perfecting the backend algorithm to match the right company with the right employee took them two years. finally went live two-and-a-half months ago. It already has 60 companies on board,and 1,200 registered professionals for whom it is free. While most of the companies are Bangalore-based,those from Chennai and Kerala have also evinced interest.

Seth hopes that this different approach to work,where a person is hired for a specific skill for a specific time,will add to the diversity of a company by pulling in homemakers or retired professionals into the productive economy. He believes this is the future,as with increasing life spans and limited pensions and healthcare,professionals forced to retire at 58 or 60 years will have to return to the job market.,which went live a year ago,also aims to diversify the workforce by bringing in mothers and women. Co-founders Anita Vasudeva and Sairee Chahal felt that many qualified women stayed away from workplaces because the environment wasn’t enabling enough. Delhi-based Vasudeva,an entrepreneur who has worked in tourism,media and publishing for over 30 years,says,“The conversation (about women staying away) had remained a gender conversation for too long,it needed to be a business conversation. We needed action,not dialogue.” The numbers prove the need for a facilitator between women and companies — over 250 companies post opportunities on Fleximom’s job board and more than 20,000 women have registered on the site to check for jobs and opportunities.

For Vasudeva and her team of 10,identifying whether their clients and companies are “flex ready” and preparing them forms an integral part of their mandate. Through workshops and personal interactions,she helps women deal with the “crisis of confidence” they might suffer from after a long absence from the workplace. She highlights that not everyone can work flexibly,be it in terms of time or location,and it is important to “figure out who you are” before plunging into a commitment.

While the above companies play the role of facilitators between professional skill seekers and professional skill givers,SkillKindle,a year-old online portal,focuses more on the informal part. Started by Tanuj Choudhry who has worked with McKinsey in India and South Africa,SkillKindle is a “superstore of skills” or an “aggregator of skill providers”. The team today has eight full-time employees and offers close to 500 classes between Delhi and Mumbai,with 70 per cent of their classes running from Delhi. Following Choudhry’s belief that “what is recreational to one person is professional to another”,the classes range from “leadership and skills programme for young people” to clay modelling,fashion photography and contemporary dance.

Finding that Indians are short on information and steadfast on passion,SkillKindle posts classes only after establishing the trainers’ credentials. Each trainer is audited for teaching experience,academic qualifications and experience in that particular field. Individual trainers have to provide up to 10 referrals before their class meets approval. Through these checks,SkillKindle ensures that students get the best value. Their students come from a wide range of backgrounds,it could be a Dance India Dance hopeful from Nagpur looking to master salsa or a Microsoft fresher hoping to improve his Excel spreadsheets.

As the definition of work slowly expands,as individuals chisel out their careers to suit their needs and as companies open up to the idea of sharing CFOs and talent,the demand for online aggregators of skills will only increase. And these young companies are helping us define success in a more personal and meaningful way.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest News Archive News, download Indian Express App.