With the pandemic still raging on, people are choosing to stay isolated and still working from home. While remote working has many benefits like saving time on commute, better work-life balance, and more, there can be a few watch outs too: Teams might be feeling disconnected, missing informal conversations and struggling with keeping the same tempo going as in a physical office; especially as no one expected this phase to last so long.
While many organizations are embracing this new way of working and incorporating flexible and hybrid models of working, it is also time to pay attention to actively engaging your teams, helping them learn & grow so that you can create a new wave of leadership and innovate your products and services.
This is what FocusU
can help you with! Like their name rightly reads, they promise to keep it all about you and focus on YOU!
FocusU was co-founded by Rakesh Balachandran
and Arun Rao
, who were colleagues at Hewlett Packard India before quitting their jobs to start this venture. They are in the business of helping organizations improve their business performance through organizational learning and employee engagement solutions.
FocusU is also one of our clients at FlexiBees, having hired a part-time and remote-working HR Recruiter professional who provided them with many benefits including time saved and adding value to their HR function.
So we recently caught up with Rakesh Balachandran, Co-founder of FocusU to understand their business and to know what worked well for them and why they choose to hire flexible talent. What ensued was an interesting conversation about how adults learn and how they can make every learning experience impactful and fun!
Some excerpts from our conversation:
How did it all start? Tell us your story.
Here is our story, said like a story…..
Once upon a time, there were two friends working in an MNC.
Every time that they attended trainings, they came out totally bored.
One day they attended an experiential learning workshop that blew their minds.
Because of that experience, they asked themselves, “How can we make all learning engaging & impactful?”
Because of that burning question in their minds, they started off on a journey to explore many unconventional methods of learning delivery.
Until finally they realised that the route to impactful learning is only through inspiring engagement and curiosity!
On the way they met many other believers. This became the FocusU family.
We are a bunch of people who are obsessed about delivering learning and engagement that truly makes a difference!
When did you start seeing success? What was the turning point?
As a totally self funded business, we have grown every single year since our launch in 2010. Today we have around 650 customers – most of whom are blue chip companies.
What is your differentiator?
Our differentiator so far has been the ability to run every engagement in an experiential way. Classroom trainings for participants can become boring and meaningless if they are not fully engaged in the experience. The ability to do that using unconventional learning methodologies and laughter has made us stand out amongst our competitors.
Can you share one success story in the recent past?
In the recent past, we ran an onboarding program for one of our clients in a completely virtual manner. The ability of our team to conceive it, sell it to the customer, customize the execution and deliver a seamless experience is something that makes us very proud. The customer also shared a resounding testimonial for the same. You can see the detailed story of this engagement out here
What is your motto?
Our motto has always been, “To Inspire WE before ME.”
As Rakesh puts it nicely, “Life is a team sport.”
How has the pandemic affected your business?
One way to look at the pandemic and the effect it had on our business is through the nature of our business. We used to run 60-70 face to face workshops per month before the Pandemic. These were run mostly in hotels, resorts and conference rooms across the country. This whole business – called ILT (Instructor Led Trainings) has come to a complete stop now. Thanks to the lockdowns and the fear of the virus, nobody wants to start doing physical workshops as yet. So in that sense the pandemic has been catastrophic for us.
Another way to see it is through the lens of what we have been able to do, since March’2020 when the pandemic initially struck. By force, we had to pivot to a virtual mode of delivery.
It helped that our team was very agile and in a matter of 3 months, we put up a new virtual business model that had 5 different pillars – and more than 120 new offerings! We also did a lot of one-on-one customer reach-outs to stay close to the customer during these times to understand the challenges their businesses were going through.
Internally we did a lot of initiatives to keep our team morale high – it did help that by and large, we have a naturally optimistic bunch of people too! All of that slowly helped in getting the business started again and building back momentum. We are now a 100% digital company.
In that sense, the pandemic has been the best thing that has happened to us as it helped us open up to an opportunity we would otherwise never have ventured into!
What are your future plans?
Today we feel like we are a start-up again. We have had to restart the business from scratch.
But the last one year has given us tremendous confidence in terms of what we can together achieve as a company. The virtual world has made us suddenly unbound by geographical borders. We have run workshops virtually in almost all continents now. We want to now scale this in a much bigger way, in the years to come.
What made you opt for flexible talent and FlexiBees and how has been your experience? We chanced upon FlexiBees through a friend when we were struggling to find the right candidate for an open role. We hired a recruiter as part of a test project to fill an open position in sales. The experience was a wonderful one!
For starters, it reduced our time to close the position significantly! The hire brought in her experience and professionalism to add tremendous value to the HR function. We have subsequently hired her for multiple projects to hire freelance talent.
Our experience with FlexiBees has been very professional and meticulous. Right from the first interaction, what stood out for us has been their transparency and professionalism. It has been a true pleasure to work with every member of the team!
What are the two things that changed after you hired talent from FlexiBees?
It has brought about a mindset shift for us and helped us leverage the vast talent pool available in the gig economy. It has also helped us to be more nimble and agile as a business! We see a long relationship with FlexiBees and hope to hire more talent soon!
If you are looking for unconventional learning experiences that can promise engagement, curiosity, and interest, then do check out FocusU.