Here’s how you can work seamlessly in a virtual office!
If someone told you a decade ago that workplaces will soon go remote and give you a chance to work out of the comfort of your home or while on holiday, chances are you wouldn’t believe them.
Cut to 2018-19, and it is a reality. In today’s emerging work culture that promotes inclusive and flexible workspaces, landing on a full-time job and part of a virtual team isn’t that hard. Established corporates and even emerging start-ups are now bogged on remote working thanks to the many handy tools such as Hangouts and Slack at their disposals.
But why are these tools important discussion points today? We need to look at how poor connectivity and lack of time-tested methodologies and software programmes prevented most employers from taking the plunge earlier. And today, a going remote is a smart way to work, simply because tech advancements enable bringing together the large pool of talent available globally. The top benefits of the handy tools listed below include:
Companies can hire talent from across the globe
Reducing costs on workspaces and large offices
Virtual meetings that lead to quick decisions
Scheduling tools help save time
Saving on transport and fuel costs
We have the ever-reliable Google Hangouts and Skype for chatting, video calling and even document sharing. Slack and Workplace by Facebook are great for more real-time written communication and many now use getflow.com for management and screenhero.com (now built into Slack) for chatting and support. Another dependable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars are Zoom. Opt for iDoneThis to be in touch on-the-go and schedule your meetings well in advance. With tools like Hackpad, Asana, and Trello open to the whole team for collaboration and real-time discussions, companies ensure their employees are always looped in. Workflow management softwares by biggies like Zoho, Freshdesk, Nintex, and Hightail enable businesses to do away with inefficient work styles that pull them down with way too much paperwork, and instead, equip them with custom mobile apps and employee-management software packages. This not only helps improve decision-making but also allows for a more seamless workspace that can quickly adapt to changes.
May 18th, 2019, a Saturday well spent when four successful women from different fields of work shared their thoughts about issues related to work-life balance through a panel discussion titled, ‘Are We Truly Winning The Rat Race’? These women juggle between businesses, corporate or independent work life simultaneously balancing the art of relationships, family, and passions.
In today’s competitive world, successes, achievements, milestones, and rewards have become fundamental for survival. And balancing one’s personal and professional life in this fast-moving world is a challenge that we all face daily.
The event enlightened all the participants and encouraged them to rethink and redefine their outlook towards life and where true happiness lies. The most exciting part of the lively discussion was when the panelists spoke about:
Work culture in today’s environment
Striking a balance between personal and professional life
The stability offered by corporate life vs entrepreneurial ventures
Second careers, drawing inspirations to passion and hobbies
What is the #futureofworking rather future of being #beingproductive?
What does living life to the fullest mean and what is more important – wealth/ power/ self?
Is it possible to escape the rat race?
These are some critical points and questions which are ignored and remain unanswered. And that’s why the ensemble of all-women panelists covered these points and spoke about the importance of work-life balance and issues in today’s competitive world, be it for women or women.
A bit of research about work-life balance led me to some shocking facts:
Work-life balance statistics in India worst compared to neighboring countries
60% working Indians rate work-life balance from average to terrible (monster.com survey)
The interesting panel discussion led to further surprises like changes in the work culture with opportunities of flexi jobs, flexi hours, remote employment at all which surpass compensation, job satisfaction, and better work-life balance take precedence as key factors for jobs today.
In today’s world, flexibility at work is gaining importance. Office spaces are no longer geographically demarcated. With technology and conveniences knocking at our doors and the traffic havoc across different cities of the country, we are realizing that a 9:00 am to 6:00 pm jobs will soon become redundant. This also has a hind side, as in when does the ‘Me Time’ or ‘Family Time’ start or the freedom to ‘Turn Off’ from work; therefore, reiterating the ‘Priorities of Life’.
These insights made us understand and realize the priorities of both personal and professional life – what is important and when?
There is no special formula to hit the balance button. To create a balance is a unique art that one must set with his or her priorities for the moment and for the long run. As a person trying to balance both work and family, one needs to make sensible choices by being rational and leading content and happy life. That is when and where one would have that beautiful feeling of having achieved something in life and having won and rewarded for being true to one’s self.
Now that we made a beginning, it’s time to trust your instincts and follow your heart. Be the change you want to see!
Do drop in your views about our events. We love constructive feedback and dialogue!
For more such events CONTACT US . We will be happy to plan, organize, curate and co-partner with you.
Summer times are popular for more things than one in India! Intense heat, vacation times, financial year beginning? How about the fresh and vibrant energy in your office? It’s the INTERNS time. They add a uber cute quotient to the workspace atmosphere. Their interest to understand the business, enthusiasm towards contributing and most importantly their vim and vigor!
“Where do we put the interns during the client meeting?”
Is this a common question in your office during summer? You have a meeting room to hold all your trainings, client meetings and conference calls, but the interns are plastered there with their laptops. And you can’t let them work from home always as well, for obvious reasons.
HYPOTHETICALLY if “You don’t have to “;
keep moving them to a new corner in your office every time you have a meeting
worry if they are contributing their share of work/learning
Set up Wi-Fi access/configurations for their laptops
keep an eye out of their whereabouts everyday
burn your budget for the short stint
recruit interns only from your city (remote working too?)
What a relief! But sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Well then, brace yourselves for what you will read next!
Chic ambience (and a variety of them!!)
60+ locations across 4 cities, with high speed Wi-Fi enabled
Comfortable space to sit and work
No obligation on the food
Check-in, Check-out time recorded
A no distraction environment where the interns can reach their full focus
Well, don’t stop yourselves here.
All this for a cost of 25 an hour and at the click of a button on your phone! You might wonder what in the world we are talking about!
We, GoFloaters(www.gofloaters.com) would love to show some support to the intern world by providing them world class workspace facilities at affordable rates of 25 an hour in our co-working cafes spectrum. We operate in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad with 60+ cafes under our belt. All the spaces are high speed wi-fi enabled and air-conditioned. With check-in check-out time data from our side, you can be on the loop about their stint at your organization.
Go on now, drop that mail to us at [email protected] or call us on +91-7338730800 to unlock that special offer for your interns this summer.
Let’s welcome the future corporates and startup founders into the world they are building!
You just started out a business and are looking at getting an office for your startup. This is such an emotional and critical decision for your startup. It is also a financial decision that you need to take. Options that you may be exploring will include the below:
All the options are right for different types and sizes of companies. I strongly believe that the last option of rent out a home and converting that to an office is not the best option for an early stage startup. I submit my argument as below.
At the outset rent a 2BHK as an option sounds the cheapest of the lot. You should be able to get a 2BHK say at 15K as rent a month. You should be able to have a team of 10 work comfortably in a 2BHK. This comes to just Rs 1500 per employee. Hey that’s cheap. Whats wrong with that you ask? I just say your equation is flawed in a few ways. Rent that you pay is just a small part of the cost of running your office. Here are the other things that you are not accounting for:
One time expenses:
Rs 90,000 (6 months deposit at the minimum) of working capital that you are locking up as security deposit
Rs 60,000 fitting out cost for furnitures (We are assuming that the space already has fans, ACs & lights)
Rs 5,000 Wiring cost for WiFi and plug points for your set up
Rs 10,000 for setting up UPS
Monthly recurring cost:
Rs 15,000 monthly rent
Rs 2,000 internet charges
Rs 5,000 EB charges (more the Air Conditioning you may see a bigger bill)
Rs 3,000 for a maid to clean the place
Rs 10,000 for consumables (like coffee & tea, cleaning liquids etc) and maintenance
Above all, the cost that founders underestimate is the opportunity cost when you spend time on the office space that you have created rather the business that you want to build. Founders end up spending time in looking into and addressing situations like AC not working, maid did not turn up, maid quit, internet connection down etc. Let us say on an average 5 hours of such time is spent every month.
Rs 10,000 of opportunity cost (assuming Rs 2000 / hr is the value of founders time)
If you just add all the recurring costs then you get a staggering Rs 45,000 monthly for your 2BHK office that initially looked very cost effective at Rs 15,000 a rent. This means that you are spending Rs 4,500 per employee per month. We have not even included the upfront costs that you have to take care. If you account for it then you are looking at a number not less then Rs 5,500 per employee per month.
The below infographic illustrates the data points and proves the point.
(Click the image to view and download a high resolution version.)
So in effect, if you get a space in your city at a per seat cost of less than Rs 5,500 per month then that option is going to be more cost effective than you taking up a 2BHK house on rent and converting it into your startups office. You can increase this number based on what you can afford.
Is cost the only factor? Cost is just one factor but many a times the most important factor in the whole decision process. You must consider all other factors comprehensively before you choose the right office for your startup.
Vikalp, CTO of Goibibo shared the story of how technology transformation took place in Goibibo as they scaled through the years as part of the CTO Talk series organised by OrangeScape. A big thanks to Suresh and team from OrangeScape for bringing us these quality talks and learning opportunities.
There were a lot of takeaways for me and this post covers what I took away from the talk.
Goibibo did not start as a travel company. It started as a consumer internet company in the space of local search and social media. Things did not go well as planned even after a successful fund raise and this is when the team had to pivot. They were not able to create the network effect that Google and Facebook were able to create. Vikalp says “It is better to kill something that you have built that does nor work rather than kill yourself by dragging along”. Fail fast is the recommendation that he gave to us.
One of the problems that nagged the founders was the travel booking experience and they thought they can solve it with tech. That was the birth of Goibibo as we know it today. Goibibo wanted to provide a reliable and fast experience to users who were booking flight tickets online. Goibibo 1.0 was a monolithic application built using ext-js (I remember ext-js as the only formidable competition to jQuery and jQuery plugins to build engaging and interactive user interfaces back then), Python, Django with MySql backend. This served them very well till they were doing around 6000 transactions a month. This monolithic application, as expected, became too inflexible and started to hinder the agility of the team. This is when Goibibo started to embrace micro-services. The team betted big on this way of designing and soon saw that their agility increased.
Adoption of micro-services was the start of 2.0 version of Goibibo’s technology evolution. Around this time is when they acquired RedBus.in. (Surprisingly, many in the audience did not know that RedBus was an Ibibo group company). The management decided to keep the company and their tech stack as is and only looked at synergies in the backend. According to me this was a master stroke that helped both companies to be agile and preserved the culture of both companies. Vikalp mentioned they were very clear to keep the synergies only to those areas that made sense from a customer or a partner standpoint.
Goibibo also started to evolve their tech stack to include GoLang, Node.js and take hybrid approaches for their mobile apps and embrace React. GoLang and Node.js were introduced to those services that needed high amount of concurrency. Goibibo’s version of hybrid mobile app is different from GoFloaters’ version of hybrid mobile app. They worked closely with the React team from Facebook to integrate native mobile app code with ReactNative code seamlessly.
This phase of the journey at Goibibo also saw them adopt a squad or a pod model of organising the teams and delivering work. Goibibo’s version of the pod model was very interesting to me. Each pod at Goibibo was independent and self sufficient. Each pod would be business function oriented and would take the ownership of planning, design, development and rollout of the features. Interestingly each pod also took care of the marketing of the module they worked on. Another interesting fact is that Goibibo does not have a dedicated QC team. The developers are the ones who were tasked with testing the software (They do have a 3rd party vendor engaged for some part of the testing.) To automate or to test manually was left as a decision to the developers. Developers obviously hated manual testing and hence automated many of the test cases. I was particularly pleased with the amount of autonomy and empowerment each of the pods were given.
When Goibibo acquired MakeMyTrip in 2016 they sought further synergies in the backend and the shared components. To a question that I asked about how they rearchitected themselves for cross-sell / upsell and how they built single customer view, Vikalp quickly responded that engineers sometimes over engineer. He mentioned that sometimes it is better to have each of the pods decide what they thought was the best thing to do and later on in the backend stitch the data together. He also mentioned that as the engineering team size grew, it was the responsibility of the leadership team to cut-across and ensure that the experience to the customer was seamless and consistent.
The current phase of Goibibo and the bets that they are taking now is what Vikalp calls as Goibibo 3.0. They are now betting big on AI and ML. Whether it comes to the dynamic pricing engine, or the moderation and tagging of user generated content AI and ML is at play. The biggest bet that Goibibo has taken is to front end all customer service queries through their chatbot, Gia. Gia has evolved over the last 2 years and now handles more that 45000 conversations in a day. From using Api.ai (which later on became Dialogflow after Google’s acquisition) they have transitioned to building their own NLP engine Chanakya. Vikalp says there is a lot of work yet to be done on Gia but he sees it as the future.
In summary I found this talk very pertinent to any early stage startup. While Goibibo is a tech company at its heart, all the tech decisions they have made throughout their journey were made only to further their business and to propel them into the next stage of growth and not as a flight of fancy. They always kept customers and partners in the center of all such decisions. It was also a very motivating to see Goibibo literally rise from the ashes like a phoenix to build the biggest travel tech company of India.
With time there has been an evolution in people as well as their mindsets towards everything in life. We are now down to the millennial era where everyone wants everything to be done instantly and spontaneously. Spontaneity has become the need of the century with vast growth in technology as well as wide spread knowledge and acceptance. Through the course of time, we may not see Birlas or Ratan Tatas among these millennials. But that’s okay, because we have the future makers and the change bringers among us. When we are to look into the future makers of the country we need to look at their work culture. Does today’s work pattern really suiting the millennials? That’s the question we need to think about because today’s change bringers are tomorrow’s future makers.
A wise person once said, “See what everyone sees but think what nobody has ever thought”, and to facilitate that a working environment is quintessential for a world of constant change and revolution. One such revolutionary change that today’s work culture requires is brought to us by GoFloaters. With change makers, there isn’t a constant need to settle-in. They need flexibility and freedom to work their way. They need varieties and options because they sure aren’t a generation who are willing to compromise. The current work spaces haven’t taken that into account. But that is where Gofloaters comes into play. They design spaces for our future leaders.
Their main objective is to provide a platform for people’s dreams. Not so long ago, freelancers and start-up teams spent hours at a local coffee shop or cafe, brainstorming ideas or setting up meetings for their future company. GoFloaters, the early pioneers of the co-working industry saw the impact and importance of the freelance revolution, and recognized the need and opportunity to offer young entrepreneurs an inexpensive space to plan and build their new company. Gofloaters are shared plug-and-play workspaces for freelancers, independent consultants, startups, sales and enterprise teams. They provide workspaces at affordable rates. Be it working for hours or months, they provide you the perfect space. They have tie-ups with cafes, restaurants, luxury hotels and unused cabin spaces for meetings and conferences exclusively. Such cafes, restaurants and hotels rent out their places during their non-happening hours which create a quiet and calm atmosphere. Their prices are very affordable, ranging between Rs.25 and Rs.100. They also provide a 10% discount on food but there isn’t any compulsion to order food. With amenities like WiFi and AC in such places, it will be a felicitous option for work related meetings. They are known as ‘Uber for co-working spaces.’ In the best cases, co-working spaces offer community as well as reasonable and on-demand real estate. GoFloaters offers a set of services and educational experience that deliver real value. They’ve brought inchanges according to the current generation’s working style.
Wherever we are around the world, it is important to understand the importance to curate a collaborative and educational ecosystem and GoFloaters strongly believes and emphasises on the same. Go floaters grow when leaders are made. They will not settle until the hunger of these future makers is satisfied.
Currently GoFloaters are in Chennai, Bangalore and Coimbatore. Leaders all around the country need such a platform of motivation. In the stride towards their glory, they have step foot in Hyderabad. They’re known to have lot of scope when it comes to start-ups and incubators to accelerate such start-ups. NowFloats is one such start-up that has made its mark. They create websites for small businesses within 13 minutes. GoFloaters is launch on ____ in Hyderabad, the city of start-up hubs.
Our country needs many more future makers and Gofloaters will always be there to pave their way for a better space.
A startups journey is laden with many challenges and near-death moments. GoFloaters journey has been no different. When someone like YourStory comes along and says that “Hey you have an interesting story. We would like to cover it”, tears of joy are set off in motion! That is the feeling that I got when Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy offered to write about us. Here is an excerpt from the story.
Founded in November 2017, GoFloaters is currently bootstrapped, and plans to raise funds soon.
A former Director at Cognizant and the founder and CEO of fintech startup SMBSure, Shyam says that co-working spaces started out to provide affordable and decent workspaces for early-stage startups and freelancers, but now focus on corporates, making them unaffordable for freelancers.
As a result, there was a need for “shared plug-and-play workspaces for independent consultants, freelancers, etc., to work for a few hours a day a viable and cheaper option”.
Starting up with baby steps
The groundwork for GoFloaters was laid when Shyam was taking a course at Founders Institute. He shared this idea with fellow entrepreneurs and got a positive response. His mentor Sukumar Rajagopal, Cognizant’s former Chief Innovation Officer who is now the founder of Tiny Magiq, told him to test out the idea frugally.
Shyam began with a WhatsApp Business account, enrolling five neighbourhood cafes on Old Mahabalipuram Road – crowded by Chennai’s IT firms. He texted his friends about spaces available for Rs 25 per hour, along with services like free Wi-Fi, plugging source, and food at 10 percent discount (however, there “is no need to buy anything while you work”). A payment link was sent to the user once the booking was confirmed.
“These cafes are not crowded during weekdays and the owners were more than happy to let the space be used,” adds the founder, saying that it led to effective utilisation of real estate with a great ambience. He managed to get some 40 bookings in three months giving him the confidence to turn it into a viable business. He set up a website, and hired a person to liaise with clients and cafes, and handle bookings. The next step was to make an app where customers could find a suitable space. After a user selects a workspace, the business owner can confirm its availability on the app, and the customer can then make the payment. Voila! Your on-demand workspace is ready.
Within a few months of starting up, Srivatsan Padmanabhan, Shyam’s former colleague from Cognizant, joined GoFloaters as a co-founder with his experience in Toptal, a freelance talent search platform.
GoFloaters initially allowed clients to book a space for an hour at different rates – Rs 25, Rs 50 or Rs 100 – with a 10-20 percent discount on any food or refreshments.
“We signed up with Ramada Plaza, a five-star hotel in Guindy, to use their lounge for meetings,” says Shyam. Ramada offers the lounge for work or meetings for Rs 100 an hour.
The founder kept adding layers of service by including meeting spaces and shared offices. Soon, it was possible to work out of an unused cabin in a corporate office for a day or a month, or book conference halls for meetings with facilities like a projector, a white board, Wi-Fi, and refreshments.
“We have 90-plus partners for providing on-demand workspaces,” says Shyam.
Today, it has 60 spaces in Chennai, 31 in Bengaluru, and two in Coimbatore. The founder says GoFloaters plans to be operational in eight cities across India by the end of 2019, with an average of 100 partner spaces. Shyam claims the company records a 20 percent month-on-month growth.
Focus on freelancers
“Freelancing is slowly becoming mainstream in India. Millennials especially want the flexibility, independence, and freedom that comes with freelancing and are increasingly joining the bandwagon.”
It’s not just freelancers who are using on-demand workspaces. The founders tell us that a unani healer and an acupuncture specialist also use the app to book private cabins for patient consultations.
The company doesn’t just aggregate on-demand workspaces but also offers motivational content like videos featuring successful entrepreneurs, including a popular series where the founders share their experiences of building the startup. The GoFloaters blog has a series on how problems are typically solved by startups.
In a freelancer startup connect programme held offline, startups seeking freelancer services interact with GoFloaters’ users. Freelancers can also learn skills in GoFloaters “go seek sessions” in new areas like Blockchain and augmented reality (AR).
In India, there are several players in this space including WeWork, 91springboard, Awfis, Innov8, and more.
But GoFloaters sets itself apart from the many coworking options by putting the focus on freelancers. Srivatsan says,
“The flip side of being on your own is loneliness, lack of mentoring, networking, and a defined career path. That’s exactly what we at GoFloaters want to address by creating a vibrant network of freelancers, backed by mentors who can guide them along. Our vision is to be the incubator for freelancers and help build a strong ecosystem to support the tribe of freelancers in India.”
What should I be looking for in the office for my business? This question is a very important question that you as the founder of a business needs to be very careful answering the question.
The short answer is actually a question “What are you looking for?”. I know that you are not expecting an answer and not rephrased question. Still I would urge you to answer what are you looking for from any office. If you are able to answer this then, I am very sure that you will be able to answer the question on what to look for from a office space.
You may want to checkout this checklist that we put together on what should one look for from an office space. This office space could be that bedroom in your home, or a small rental office or a coworking space.
The “BIG” difference between a coworking space and a business center is the opportunity to network with other tenants of the space to look for opportunities to collaborate and the events that the coworking space hosts that may be of use to you.
Yes, coworking spaces look flashier than your traditional office. Yes, some of them would offer free unlimited coffee. Yes, some of them would have recreational facilities for you to relax. The question to ask is that do you need these or are you at a stage where you would spend every single rupee that you have into the business than on these frills.
For those reading this post. Please let me know by commenting with a “yes” if you found the checklist useful. If you want to add something more to the checklist please comment too.
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