Monday, August 18, 2014

Work Flex, The New Age of Flexible Work Schedule

A colleague has once told me, 'I don't believe that flexible working or working from home or anywhere other than office is actually productive.' I had smiled on hearing that, but didn't contradict him. It's pointless to explain to someone, with such a strong belief otherwise, that work flex actually works.

Wikipedia defines flexitime working as 'a variable work schedule, in contrast to traditional work arrangements requiring employees to work a standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. day. Under flextime, there is typically a core period (of approximately 50% of total working time / working day) of the day, when employees are expected to be at work (for example, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.), while the rest of the working day is "flexible time", in which employees can choose when they work, subject to achieving total daily, weekly or monthly hours in the region of what the employer expects, and subject to the necessary work being done. A flextime policy allows staff to determine when they will work, while a flexiplace policy allows staff to determine where they will work. Advantages include allowing employees to adopt their work hours to public transport schedules, to the schedules their children have, and that road traffic will be less congested, more spread out.'

In a recent article in Fox Business, Susan Ruhl, the managing partner of OI Partners – Innovative Career Consulting,  said, '88% of Fortune 1000 companies offer part-time schedules, 77% offer flextime, and 48% offer job-sharing. Often, the fear that a company would never allow a flexible schedule is much greater than the reality of the situation. Many companies understand and value the tremendous intellectual capital that is present in the stay at home mom population and are willing to be flexible to find the right fit.'

Whether my colleague agrees or not, flexitime working is here and it is here to stay. Like most innovative new concepts, it took a bit of time to find acceptance in the organizations, but today more and more companies are waking up to the fact that 9 to 5 work schedule may not make much sense in this day of global connectivity, when you are catering to a worldwide customer base through a connected workforce.

Pic Courtesy:

Regus, a provider of flexible workplaces for organizations, has recently reported a survey which shows that 72% of international businesses have achieved increased productivity with implantation of flexible work practices; and around 68% of participating firms has reported increased revenues from offering flexible working schedules to their staff. Around 22% of Indian young people polled have declared  that they ‘will never join another company that does not acknowledge the benefits of remote workforces – they‘re too old-fashioned in their thinking’.

India has woken up to this global phenomenon only recently. The Second Career Internship Programme (SCIP) from the Tata Group was launched on International Women’s Day in 2008 as a 'career transition management programme' for women professionals who have taken a break in a career for any reason, and wish to make a comeback in the professional space. The SCIP offers flexitime projects in a number of Tata Group companies for such women.

Not only women, but Indian men too are keen on adopting a flexible work schedule. A recent survey done by TimesJob states that around 62% of the men polled think flexibility as an important factor for consideration in a job. While 80% of women workers prefer flexitime for childcare, organizations have also reported that increasing number of men are too option for workflex for reasons such as childcare and upgrading of skill sets.

(C) Moumita Basu

Friday, August 1, 2014

5 Things to do While Searching for Work from Home Opportunities

These days a number of friends of mine are opting to work from home, in a bid to strike a balance between work and life. I have been advising people on how to find a Work-From-Home (WFH) option informally to my friends and neighbours for a very long time now. Although it sounds easy, by finding the right WFH option in India is not only difficult, but sometimes downright impossible too. 

So these are what I generally advice people:

Tip 1: Decide on your core strengths before you decide on WFH option.

It’s important to find out what you are good at before you embark on a search of WFH option. Just because your friend is earning ell from doing medical transcriptions at home, does not mean that it’s what you’ll also enjoy doing.  I know professionals from all sorts of field who have opted for WFH options, such as graphic designing, legal transcription, CAD designing, human resource managing, recruiting, writers, voice trainers, and apparel designers. What WFH you want to do will depend on your talent, training, experience and resources available to you.

Tip 2: Put your resume in all job portals, not only in those which cater to only freelancers.

Although there are many websites catering to freelance requirements specifically, job portals for full time work also features good openings for freelancers, one just have to keep checking them regularly for a opening that may not otherwise come in portals for freelancers.

Tip 3: Be ready for a long wait and have patience.

Like I said, it’s quite difficult to find WFH options in India. But you have to keep trying. The wait sometimes can be a downer, and there’s no saying when you’ll get a good break. It’s as much difficult to get a good option initially, as it is even if you are a seasoned freelancer. Every search, every break takes time and you need to have your wits about you before you get another contact or client to work with. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to keep working on your portfolio to make it impressive.

Tip 4: Develop a portfolio.

Portfolio is as important as a CV itself. So keep working on it. Collect all your published or unpublished work samples in one place, add your recommendations from clients, and you’ll be having a portfolio to show off. For a freelancer, or a WFH professional, your portfolio is your calling card.

Tip 5: Network both virtually and physically.

As a freelancer who wants a WFH option, networking is an important tool, to stay in touch with fellow freelancers, past employers, and prospective clients. Apart from virtual networking through blogs and social media websites, it’s important to meet people through associations, clubs and meet-ups of similar professionals, to keep the energy flowing, and the interest going.

(C) Moumita Basu