E142 | The Future Of Flexible Working with Juggle Jobs Founder, Romanie Thomas
If, over the course of the last year, you’ve come to enjoy working from home and don’t want to have to revert to the daily commute into the office. Or if you’re scaling a business and wondering how you can attract the right level of skill and experience without having to hire someone full time. Then don’t miss Romanie Thomas, an experienced headhunter, founder and CEO of Juggle Jobs, a platform connecting businesses with high-quality professionals on a flexible basis.
Founded in 2017, Juggle Jobs is for people who have more to offer scaling businesses than simply their skills and experience. They understand and appreciate the need to be flexible and are prepared to roll their sleeves up and muck in, helping out where necessary.
Romanie, an experienced headhunter, realised while there are plenty of platforms for low level, entry positions, there aren’t many offering these sorts of flexible opportunities to mid to high level roles.
Seeing a gap in the market, she created a platform to help women who don’t want to work full time, get access to great jobs. Very quickly, she realised that this wasn’t a gender issue, this was a matching skills to jobs and helping people facilitate a portfolio career issue.
In today’s episode, she talks about the implications of remote first versus office culture versus hybrid. What might that look like? What’s the best? What’s the worst? What’s the best of the worst? And she shares what it’s like to be a digital nomad. Where she’s been and where she’s worked from, and what lessons she’s learned along the way. This is a fantastic conversation with a fantastic founder.
On today’s podcast:
- Figure out the problem you’re solving
- The future of flexible working
- The problem of hybrid working
- Why more men are opting for flexible work
Romanie Thomas is an experienced headhunter who has spent the last ten years helping companies find incredibly talented senior staff. Now, she’s the founder and CEO of Juggle Jobs, a skills market for flexible work, on a mission to change work for the better. The company enables outstanding talent to work with the most forward-thinking companies.
“We help professionals to work on a flexible basis. But essentially, we help companies to find these amazing, experienced people who want to work on a self employed basis, but also keep that long term relationship with companies to quite literally juggle jobs.
So how did it all begin?
Back in 2017, they built their initial offering and raised their first round of capital. It was an amazing success story for 12 months as they tried to prove that professionals would move away from a secure career to work flexibly, hoping they could attract lots of great women to the platform, because at the time, that was the premise of the platform.
In 2018 they raised another round of VC investment off the back of the success of 2017. And that’s when the wheels started to come off.
“The whole point was right, let’s try and prove that success on the business side as well, because we’re essentially a two sided marketplace. And yeah, let’s just say that did not go quite so smoothly.”
They hadn’t properly defined what the problem was for businesses that they were trying to solve.
“We went back to basics, really, and tried to really define what the problem was to companies. And the results were really surprising.”
Businesses liked the flexible angle, they got access to better people for less money. They could choose actual experience over people looking for an experience. They only paid for productive time rather than unproductive time – something that’s incredibly common in a 5 day week.
And so Juggle was reborn.
Relaunching in the pandemic
“So that’s what we relaunched at the start of the pandemic. And initially, the traction was pretty amazing. We did a soft launch. And we saw fantastic growth.”
Because everyone is working, to a certain extent, flexibly, that’s made things for Juggle so much better, putting their proposition at the centre of what’s going on.
Benefits of hiring mid to senior level talent
Juggle helps businesses hire mid to senior level talent, it helps them source people they wouldn’t ordinarily have access to, because they couldn’t afford them on a full time basis.
“And as we all know, people are central to your business. So the better people that you hire, the more successful your company is going to be.”
In almost every other sector, there are multiple platforms for people who want flexible jobs, but if you want to hire an experienced person who would typically be in your office, your options are pretty limited. You either have to trawl your existing network or go through a recruiter. And that is expensive and the offering is usually substandard.
“I can buy clothes online, I can even sign legal documents online. Why can’t I hire a great person online as well, that should be able to happen?”
The problem of hybrid working
Hybrid working is being touted as the next great thing for the future of work, but Romanie can foresee so many issues, before it’s even begun.
“I think in the short term, we will see quite a shift to this hybrid model. But actually, I have some reservations over that, because I don’t think it solves the problem.”
When more people are in the office rather than at home, it will create more segregation than pre-pandemic. People who took flexibility on good faith i.e. working parents, and designed their lives around a hybrid work model, will suddenly find themselves in a downside scenario because they won’t be able to spend as much facetime in the office as their colleagues.
“I don’t think the hybrid thing is going to survive, I think it’s going to be a push in the short term like the next 2, 3, 4, even five years. But I think in 10 years, it will be heavily office based environments or remote.”
The pros of remote working
On the other hand, the massive upside of remote working is that it enables you to hire and manage a more diverse team.
“And if you believe that diversity is important, and that diverse teams are going to be the ones that win and solve the problems of the future, then you want to optimise for that. And I think the companies that optimise for that will ultimately win.”
The trends of flexibility post-lockdown
Traditionally, says Romanie, it’s always been women looking for flexible work to fit around childcare. But following lockdown, they’ve seen a big increase in the number of men opting specifically for part time opportunities and remote opportunities.
They’ve spent the last year with their children and want to spend more time at home, or pursue projects for themselves that wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do working 5 days a week in an office.
“And that number has gone up from 34% actively seeking part time opportunities to almost 80% in just the course of a year.”
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