There is many a slip between a job and a vacancy. The stress of late hours, the dreaded graveyard shift, the rigours of commuting to offices in far flung areas, the need to pick up children from school, helping them with their homework, could well be a logistical nightmare to be contended with. For many young mothers (and fathers too) domestic challenges like taking care of elderly parents, may often stand in the way of their career. Or, at the very least, put a strain on it. It’s almost as if scores of talented folks can either have their careers or be responsible parents and children.
Work-Life Balance, Flexi-Careers, Empowerment and Corporate Social Responsibility are often jargon bandied about at HR seminars. Few put their appointment orders where their words are. Timo Selvaraj does. The Virginia based 44 year old software guru is not obsessed with valuation or revenue, unlike others in his field. Having Co-founded Searchblox with his London based elder brother Robert Selvaraj 16 years ago, this alumnus of Don Bosco, Egmore and Loyola College, has been silently empowering women and men back home in South India, giving them not just salaries but financial independence, without the fetters of an office.
Just like the founders in Virginia and London, all Searchblox employees in Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad work out of home. With flexible working hours, ranging from 2 hours a day to the regular 8 hour shift. With no HR boss looking at the clock. With the freedom to take a long lunch break to pick up kids from school, take an elderly parent to the doctor or for other commitments. With weekends off. With pay packages as much as regular office go-ers get.
Timo’s company Searchblox “offers an advanced AI driven search engine that can index and search content from over 80+ different datasources. The result is a superior search experience that finds the most relevant information as quickly as possible.” There have been instances when new entrants, possibly befuddled with the nature of the business, have thrown in the towel. But Timo does not lose his shirt! A gentle suggestion to give it time often transforms a nervous newbie into a seasoned professional. And they feel at home, quite literally! With such a novel work ethic, there is never a need to search for people! Few leave such a dream job. The need for more hands on the deck crops up only when there are more projects in the kitty. This is when the existing team members, not surprisingly, become Timo’s best Brand Ambassadors and new slots are filled in as soon as they open up.
What’s the rationale behind this work from home mantra? “Flexibility and productivity” is Timo’s cryptic response. The style of operation makes perfect business sense. No overheads like office rent, electricity and maintenance. No travel allowance. No office politics! No sudden leave requests. Permission to slip in family commitments on the job is almost the norm.
What’s heartening to note is that the money saved on office expenditure is given to the team in the form of good increments, bonus and a mandatory annual outbound holiday at resorts in different cities, with workshops to update skills, woven in.
Empowerment goes way beyond a slogan. For such pioneers, it’s in their DNA.
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)