Karoli Hindriks, CEO of Jobbatical, says that startups stand to benefit from the flexibility of a mobile workforce
The Millennial workforce, at least in the developed world, is a different kind of animal from its predecessors.
Many of them are no longer content with just a steady pay and gig. They are more curious and are willing to take more risks, charting a path that would differ from their parents. According to a study conducted by online freelancer platform Elance, Millennials value creativity, flexibility and autonomy over permanent jobs, working schedules and locations.
Jobbatical, an Estonia-based startup, is helping to advance this new paradigm by combining Millennials’ (or any generation’s, really) love of travel with their preference for flexible career plans via its job portal.
And, no, its service does not exist as a vehicle for users to upload narcissistic Instagram selfies (with seriously overused quotes such as “not all who wander are lost”). Rather, Jobbatical believes that the injection of a cultural outsider to a company, can not only enrich the workplace, but also boost productivity and motivation.
Tackling talent shortage
Karoli Hindriks, Founder and CEO of Jobbatical, is a veteran entrepreneur with 15 years of experience under her belt. Her entrepreneurship journey has led the self-described globetrotter to live extensively in Europe and the US. And, based on her experience, she realised helping freelancers relocate overseas to work doesn’t just benefit them, but also companies facing a dearth of talent.
“Coming from a tiny country [Estonia], where we have more startups per capita than any other European country, it is always very hard to find local talent,” says Hindriks in an interview e27. “At the same time, as a Millennial myself, I like to globe trot.”
“So I thought—why not combine these two aspects by helping millennials find interesting locations to work, and at the same time, help companies find good talent?” she says.
Hindriks says that companies can benefit from the cross-cultural exchange of ideas and expertise.
“The idea of the office is changing, people are less ‘married’ to a fixed geographic location. Bringing a culturally different person to your office can boost ideas and motivation in a team,” says Hindriks.
As opposed to Buffer‘s approach of a full-on remote working setup — where team members work separately from each other and communicate via online communication tools — Jobbatical still believes that gathering in a physical space, at least for a short period of time, is essential to power innovation.
Perks of the job
One of its many users, marketing executive and IT consultant Nikki Johnson, says that signing up onto the platform was a no-brainer.
“I adore travelling to new places and fully immersing myself in different cultures. Through this site with its wide range of gigs from ridiculously cool cities scattered throughout the globe, I can indulge these passions while earning a solid living at the same time,” says Johnson.
But while she had extensive experience touring in different countries such as the UAE, Japan, and India, she admits adjustment issues were still inevitable. Johnson moved to Kuala Lumpur last year to work with online binary trading platform Binary.
“There are also just a ton of logistical details that need to be addressed in picking up and moving to a whole new country, from learning what is needed to set up a bank account to grabbing a local phone number,” says Johnson.
Thankfully, her employer did not leave her in the lurch, assisting with essentials such as her work visa and accommodations.
Another client, Jacqueline Jensen, took up a position as community evangelist at Malaysia-based startup Piktochart through Jobbatical and chose to work completely offsite.
“For me, I like to sit down, focus and tackle problems. But I like to have freedom as well. For example, I want to be able to wake up at 10 AM for my yoga class, then come back to solve the problem,” says Jensen.
Capitalising on Asia’s boom
According to Jobbatical, it is seeing a trend of freelancers from Europe and US seeking positions in Asia-based companies. Many of them are willing to work at least a year or more.
“Asia, and in particularly, Singapore and Malaysia, are the most popular destinations on Jobbatical,” says Hindriks. “If you look at the cost of living and quality of life and mix that in with the vibrant tech scene in Asia, this trend is easily explainable.”
Jobbatical itself has relocated its entire team to Kuala Lumpur for two months to work there.
“At Jobbatical, we adopt the ‘slow travel’ philosophy. i.e. Spending quality time immersing yourself in a new culture, rather than dashing in and out. We’ve laid this out not as a company retreat but a temporary relocation,” she says.
Hindriks says the goal of this, is to enable the team to better understand the Asian environment before establishing a Jobbatical hub in Asia. She explains that each member of the team will be able to explore opportunities in Malaysia in different ways.
“As the Marketing Chief, I’m looking forward to getting plugged into the [Malaysian] tech startup ecosystem, Our head of BizDev will be able to meet in person with companies interested in hiring through Jobbatical,” she says.
Since its launch in May 2015, Jobbatical has already acquired over 30,000 registered users. It raised an US$850,000 angel round last year and is seeking to raise Series A funding in the near future.
Jobbatical also plans to introduce premium services, where it will help to match and curate the right candidates for each company.
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