Freedom to Work is Not Freedom from Work: Life of a Flexi Worker

By:  Rajiv Tewari for,  based on a conversation with Dr Manan Chaturvedi, founder of Fortune Architect. Manan’s full introduction has been shared at the end of this article. Updated version. 

Life of a flexi worker

Freedom to work is not freedom from work. Freedom to work simply means the freedom to choose how to work.  I have chosen a flexi work life which allows me the perfect work life balance. I get to pursue my hobby of driving in the deserts, mountains, jungles and some of the best cities in the world while continuing to manage my flexi teams in ten cities,” said Manan. This triggered an interesting conversation between me and Manan on a flexi worker’s lifestyle and challenges.

 Manan has all the time to exercise, meet friends, and pursue his hobbies & interests,while facing all the challenges of a startup.  A lot of his friends thought that once he gets married he would not able to live this kind of life.  Manan shared with me that his wife is as keen as him to pursue a flexi life and she begins to miss the rides once a few months pass.  Manan has been invited to Germany recently to cover an Auto event with free return tickets, excellent accommodation and to top it all he will get to use a highend German Supercar and a Superbike to use during his stay.  Though he is a professional HR Consultant yet his hobby is giving him the kind of rewards only a few can dream of. 

How Manan manages his operations in 10 cities

Manan’s practice areas include learning &development, consultancy, staffing & recruitment.  His company, Fortune Architect, has team members on a full salary basis but they have the freedom to choose their work timing.  Team members are well connected with each other through an approved and shared work calendar. For additional work, Manan has alliances with several consultants who work on a project to project basis as freelancers.  The system works very efficiently as Fortune Architect’s clients are in tune with him on flexi work schedules with the assurance that work will be finished on time.   “Trust is the main ingredient in flexi work success.  I trust my team members and the clients trust me,” said Manan.  Manan shared that his clients provide office space to his team members with an agreed upon work calendar. It’s not a 9 to 5 job but the team members are present when the client wants to meet them. According to Manan,“The flexi workers have to be highly disciplined and punctual about the delivery schedules and meeting timings. In the absence of these qualities the system would never work efficiently.  Sharing of calendars and daily online interactions are enough to ensure the robustness the system.”   In case of a challenge Manan is always available to help the team members.

 Benefits to clients

The clients save a lot of money as they are able to use quality manpower on a shared basis but with the assurance of dedicated presence in their own office.  Load on their infrastructure also reduces as by providing space for one person, they get the back up of a large team which is remotely connected with each team member.  The talent pool increases with a large number of talented team of flexi time employees and freelancers.  A lot of talented professional, for example females with a small child, who have to leave their full time jobs, prefer this kind of arrangement over full time employment. A lot of retired people who are knowledgeable, experienced and willing to work prefer flexi work arrangements.  “There are many like me who simply wish to opt for flexi work to be able to strike a balance between work, hobbies and interests” said Manan.

What areas would flexi work culture be more practical to apply?

There is virtually no area where flexi work culture does not apply. It’s all about agreeing to a planned and process oriented work culture.  A flexi work culture does not mean working only from home or working only from remote locations.  Flexi work basically means creating flexi timings & days of work at the team level so that collaboration is possible and every one can have extra time for their hobbies, interests and personal work.  It is possible to collaborate and even conduct meetings with remotely located flexi workers in several areas.  The option of coming on minimum days to the office with the freedom to report from any place any time would work best in areas like sales, designing, online customer service, accounting, financial advisory services, research, shortlisting of candidates through online interviews, projects where software based collaboration is possible and so on.  Even in areas like healthcare, it is possible for the doctors to talk to the patients through technology interfaces for consultations and follow ups unless a physical check-up is necessary.

Talent is seeking flexibility in work & life

Life is getting more and more complex so job designs need more flexibility. Traffic chaos on the roads, single unit families, single parents,  shared responsibilities between couples, lack of time to exercise and pursue hobbies & interests have all acted as catalysts to increased stress levels, which is a well-known factor for reduced productivity.  Flexibility at work benefits not only those who are seeking a better work life balance but also the employers in many ways. The employers with flexi work policies are able to attract & retain talent, save costs and benefit a lot through increased productivity of committed employees.

The World Economic Forum has predicted that we are on the threshold of an industrial revolution due to the huge impact of technology, socio economic factor and demographic shifts around the world. The demand for flexibility has begun the process of transformation in the way we work and the way jobs are designed. In a recent study, by Randstad, out of the 7500 Indian executives surveyed, more than half of employees (53%) prefer to work from home (tele-commuting), while only 47% said yes to work from office every day. Both male (52%) and female (54%) professionals indicated their preference for tele-commuting jobs. Interestingly, this preference was higher among the 45 years plus segment.

In the Generations Go survey, conducted by EY, covering nearly 10,000 people across the globe, it was found that flexibility and ambition go hand in hand – 75% of millennials (men and women) want the ability to work flexibly without stigma and still be on track for promotion.In a recent interview conducted by the team, Sandeep Kohli, National Director- Human Resources, Ernst & Young (EY) summarized the need to go flexi by simply saying that “If talent wants flexibility at work, can the board rooms Ignore it?” The employers hardly have a choice if they wish to attract the best in the war for talent in the market place which is clearly demanding flexi work policies.  

About Dr Manan Chaturvedi

Dr. Manan Chaturvedi is founder of Fortune Architect, a 360º HR setup and Transformation Company, which supports Start-ups and SME s in building the right DNA, of their organisation, by building a strong and robust HR function. Under the banner of Fortune Architect, he also runs a unique professional platform for HR Professionals, Leaders and Entrepreneurs to Network, Connect and Engage.

Dr. Manan is an HR professional and an entrepreneur with over 16 years of industry experience in multiple geographies. Holding a Doctorate in Management Studies, he is a passionate HR scholar, a go getter and a business strategist by the day, writer by the night, and an avid biker on the weekends.

On a personal front, he loves spending his leisure time, with his family and his lovable four legged furry baby. He is an avid biker and has covered many places in India and abroad on his bike. He has covered entire India on a Superbike in one of his long trips. For Dr. Manan, “motorcycling is like meditation, as you have to let go of all other worries of your life and need to focus only on the road and the surroundings. Many people ask him, why he prefers motorcycle over cars, his answer is, “Why to watch a movie on a TV, when you can be a part of it and play role in it”. Why to see the beautiful world from behind a small car window, while you cross through the scenic landscapes, when you can actually feel the entire journey by being on a motorcycle, out in the open.”

 He follows the same rule in his professional life as well, he is not one of those leaders, who prefer to just delegate the work to their teams and watch them perform. He, instead, chooses to delegate and then works with them to ensure that they succeed together.