The idea of establishing a platform like Flexing It was verbalised and took shape over a weekend lunch a few months ago. The idea had been germinating in my mind, getting a little more water and sun each time an ex-client called to seek quality people for assignments, and when friends and professional colleagues talked of the desire to work more independently but were concerned about utilisation.
There are two core beliefs underlying the premise of Flexing It: one, there is a large and growing number of professionals who want to adopt a more creative route to crafting their careers and portfolio of work; and two, that organisations are realising that a formal employment contract does not guarantee commitment and delivery. This realization, along with difficulties in accessing skills and a desire to retain flexibility, is leading to newer approaches to seek talent.
My research and conversations over the last couple of months as the idea developed have re-affirmed these beliefs in multiple ways. I was pointed to a TED talk by Alain de Botton titled ‘A kinder, gentler philosophy of success’ that talks of job snobbery and judging people by their business cards. The main idea that he proposes is that we need to ensure we are ‘authors of our own ambitions’ and draw our definition of success from our own notions versus those of other people. I was also struck by a recent article in the August edition of the Economist by Bagehot that talked of ‘Generation Xhausted’ - professionals in their 30s and 40s attempting to balance accelerating careers with the demands of young families. The article talks about how research has shown, that across cultures and countries happiness dips in the 30s and 40s, and recommends a more “enlightened attitude amongst employers towards flexible working.”
The current economic climate of slowing growth and uncertainty is furthering the increased openness to non-traditional models of employment. In an environment of job cuts and budget freezes, employers are looking to consultants, contractors and part-time resources to help fill key roles to deliver results.
While the jury is out on when the overall economic cycle will turn, one cycle that is on an upswing is that of entrepreneurship and newer business models. I have heard India described as ‘start-up nation’ by many and there really does appear to be energy in the air across sectors, and across web-based or bricks and mortar based solutions. A key sticking point in the success of many of these ventures is skills and expertise, and this is another segment where creative ways of getting qualified professionals to work with emerging organisations can be a win-win.
In summary, working independently and flexibly while building a portfolio of careers is a trend that is on the rise. A recent article in the Economic Times Magazine showed projections made by MBO Partners that 50% of the US labour force will be freelancers by 2020!
My endeavour through Flexing It is to provide a platform that creates transparency around flexible opportunities and permits professionals and organisations to connect seamlessly with each other in ways that are win-win. I also envision that this platform will provide a community for people working independently to share experiences and ideas, and would really look to you all to help make this a productive and effective environment.