A few months after Deepa Narayanaswamy’s child was born, her mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Consequently, the IIM-Bangalore alumnus had to leave her full-time job to take care of her newborn and her ailing mother. But even when things improved at home, she wanted to take up flexible working hours as it would help her balance her career with her duties as a mother and a caregiver. But much to her dismay, she found that her options were extremely limited.
Narayanaswamy is not alone. Millions of working women in India have made similar sacrifices. According to a survey by HR services company TeamLease, post-maternity attrition in India is as high as 45%.
But things took a new turn this time. Back from maternity, Narayaswamy was determined to create a slew of options for women although nothing existed at the time. A series of conversations with friends and IIM-B batchmates Rashmi Rammohan and Shreya Prakash regarding this issue led to the inception of FlexiBees. Having seen her journey, both Rammohan and Prakash were passionate about solving this problem that prevented qualified women from participating in the workforce.
Launched in March 2017, FlexiBees is a talent curation platform that solves two critical pain points. The startup claims to help businesses hire flexible talent quickly in a cost-effective manner, and it brings qualified women back to the work-force through flexible career-building opportunities across part-time, project-based and remote roles.
With its focus on a unique matching approach, FlexiBees is tackling one of the biggest challenges that startups face today, which is hiring experienced talent that fits within their budget. It solves this by offering experienced professionals through affordable and agile part-time and project-based models, that help businesses hire great quality talent as and when they need it. At the core of how FlexiBees works is its unique matching of a role to the talent.
“We realised early on that matching the same way that marketplaces do will not work for us. For one, startups today are hiring all kinds of roles flexibly, from Sales to Marketing to Content Strategy, and marketplaces are not equipped to do these complex skill matches,” says Rammohan.
The matching process of FlexiBees is an intensive multi-step process that not only gauges functional fitment, but also matches for factors such as time availability, commitment, and more.
“Our clients get better-matched talent, and hence 65% of our business comes from repeat clients”, says Rammohan.
This end-to-end matching also cuts down on the recruitment effort that companies have to otherwise expend. Recruitment is a highly resource-intensive process — from spending money on job posts to spending time on shortlisting candidates, interviewing them and carrying out background checks, the trifecta for cost, time and effort can go up very quickly. According to a survey by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average time a company takes to hire an employee is 36 days, and the average cost for a non-executive position is $4,425. Furthermore, it takes 40-50 effort-hours for each position to be fulfilled.
FlexiBees claims that it reduces the time and effort required by 90% since businesses only have to focus on selecting a final candidate from a small batch of filtered options sent to them by the startup.
Businesses can also benefit from FlexiBees’ models of remote working. According to Global Workplace Analytics, businesses worldwide lose $600 Bn a year due to workplace distractions. The research also states that most businesses that adopted remote or flexible work saw a productivity improvement upwards of 20%.
At present, FlexiBees has a pool of 27K+ professional women looking for flexible work opportunities and has catered to more than 250 companies that include giants like Kimberly Clark, Tata Realty & Infrastructure and growth-stage startups such as fintech platform Creditmantri, skill assessment company Mettl, logistics-tech company Delhivery, and more. Four years into operations, the startup has helped hundreds of women rejoin the workforce in career-relevant flexible roles.
Women-Led Flexiway For Businesses
The startup’s vision of normalising flexible work is built into its DNA. While Shreya operates from India, Rashmi and Deepa are based in Singapore. Moreover, its entire team of women professionals have worked remotely, part-time or full-time since the business started.
“We hire from our own pool, which means we get the same benefits as our clients: the ability to scale in a lean manner, with a high-quality, high commitment team.”, says Narayanaswamy.
Deepa further adds that businesses, especially startups intuitively understand the benefits of part-time and project-based models. However, the acceptance of remote working has always been a challenge. That mindset is changing now, accelerated by the pandemic, which led the whole world to work from home. “In a post-lockdown world, companies have seen how well remote working can work and are now keen to build a long-term framework around it.”, says Rammohan.
Towards A Flexible Future
The future may truly belong to flexible working, with platforms like Upwork and Flexjobs gaining popularity in recent times. With the rising need for more specialised roles and the demand for hiring better talent than one’s competition, recruiters will have to move beyond geographic limitations. Moreover, increasingly more talent wants work-life balance and to enjoy the benefits of a flexible job role. And the same goes for all digital nomads who will work from any place in the world as per their preferred timing. The increasing number of remote working roles on LinkedIn is a testament to this trend. Also, according to a report by BCG-Zoom, 87% of Indian businesses are considering a permanent remote working model for their operations after witnessing its impact first-hand in 2020.
“Technology such as asynchronous collaboration tools and virtual work environments will drive the adoption of flexible working. But ultimately it is the benefits that businesses and individuals reap that will make it omnipresent,” says Prakash.
With 15% of FlexiBees’ business already coming from international clients, the startup has plans to focus on other geographies. It also intends to onboard global talent onto its platform as the founders believe that gender disparity in the workforce is not a regional issue. Hoping for a future where flexible roles and a bigger number of women professionals become the norm, they say that FlexiBees will continue to put its effort into the big cause.