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Making Your Remote Employees Feel Valued

Making Your Remote Employees Feel Valued

Work from home is becoming an increasingly viable option – for both employees as well as employers. With this development, there is a need for employers to pay more attention to making the “virtual work space” more conducive, and employee friendly. One of the most important aspects which has a direct impact on the productivity levels of your employees is how valued they feel. This can be an especially difficult task to achieve, and to measure when your connection with your employees is through remote access. But is it really?

You would be surprised the small ways in which you can make your Remote Employees feel valued. In this blog post, we speak about some elementary ways which should define the norms of every work place which encourages Work from home/ remote spaces options.

  1. Clarity in Communication

    This aspect is a crucial unit for developing a healthy relationship with your employee, and for ensuring that they are at all times aware of their deliverables. One of the main concerns remote working raises is the fact that responsibilities, goals and outcomes are not streamlined meticulously – unlike in physical work environments. When this happens there is the danger of your employee under performing for no fault of his/her, which means you lose out on the valuable skill set of someone you have   invested time in to select and recruit. Being clear in communicating goals, outcomes and responsibilities helps employees feel more engaged, and in sync with their work, which in turn has a direct impact on the quality of work they churn out.

  2. Checking in

    Really one of the easiest and most basic way of showing your employees that you care. That you value your relationship with them beyond the contract of employment. Once again, since we are speaking about work in a remote environment, checking takes just a bit more effort than it would if it were a physical office. That, however cannot be an excuse for not keeping in touch with your employees. Establishing a system for this is a great way of making sure that you check in regularly. For example, every month schedule one day for a team call (if your team is spread out), and one day for individual calls. There are so many ways you can do this, and with just a little bit of thought, you can truly help your employees be enthusiastic about the work they do. And if you have a team of enthusiastic employees who feel valued, you’re a winner.

  3. Be there for them

    A good manager has an open door policy, and his team is aware of this. This applies even to teams which work remotely. In the context of the blog post, one could safely argue that this aspect is especially important to have your remote employees feel valued. Operate with a degree of decentralization, especially when it comes to your team having access to you when they need you. If your team comprises of employees who work remotely, because of an absence of a traditional physical work space they might need to reach out to you more often than other ‘regular’ employees. In which case, take care to stress on the fact that you are available when your team needs you. No better way to set precedence about this other than by leading through example.

If we summarize all the three things we’ve said above, there is one main takeaway – communication. The quality of communication between colleagues is something that determines the overall work environment – even when the work environment is virtual. And we’d say, especially when the work environment is virtual. While these small efforts wouldn’t cost you anything, bypassing them surely would. The quality of work you expect, is directly proportional to how motivated your team feels to deliver the expected quality. And feeling motivated is a direct by-product of feeling valued.

Do you have a remote team and are you proud of your team management techniques? Share your story with us and we will share it with the world!


Working From Home – Knowing When to Switch Off

Working From Home – Knowing When to Switch Off

Working from home has, in the recent past grown to be an increasingly popular option with several organizations. This option works well not just for individuals who are more productive working out of the comfort of their homes, but also for the organizations offering this option. Saving on the cost of maintaining a workspace is only one of the host of benefits the employers get. Several studies conducted on the benefits of working from home, for employers, have found that employees tend to take less number of days off, are more productive, and are generally more satisfied – which amounts to big bonuses for the employers.

In some of our previous posts, we’ve discussed a host of issues relating to work from home – including benefits, dos and don’ts, and tips on how to be more productive when you work from home. In this post, we speak about knowing when to switch off, when you work from home. As relaxing as it may sound, working from home can be quite the opposite. And in fact, can end up being more stressful than a regular 9 to 5 job, because when you work from home, you are always at work! There is always something to work on, always that “just this one thing to finish”.

Maintaining a work-life balance is essential even when you work from home. Switching off when you work from home can be tougher than working from an office. Here are five ways to help you know when to switch off.

1. Don’t wait for the trigger

It is not surprising that our outlook towards most things takes on the garb of a responsive/ corrective approach rather than a preventive approach. In other words, we always tell ourselves that should there be damage we can always go into the damage control mode. How about we prevent that damage by looking out for ourselves, instead of waiting for the trigger?

2. Practice Mindfulness

One way of preventing a burn out, when you work from home is to practice mindfulness all through the day. The underlining principle of practicing mindfulness is to first of all to practice awareness. Being present in the moment throughout the day is a way of never letting yourself wait for the trigger. While this may sound difficult to practice, with a bit of time and patience you can master it.

3. Maintain strict work hours

The reason why it is mostly difficult to switch off when you work from home is because you are always in your ‘work place’. When you have an office to go to, you know work time is over when you turn off your system and drive home. When you work from home however, switching off may not always feel that easy. Make it a point to maintain strict work hours through the day – just like you would if you weren’t working from home. Start at 9 and switch off at 5. Remember that there will always be that one extra thing to finish off, but ask yourself if it’s really that important that it can’t wait.

4. Have daily rituals

Having before and after work daily rituals is a great way to help you switch off from work on time. Making meditation, some exercise and reading a part of these daily rituals is a great way to have yourself look forward to switching off. Make sure that you go out for a short walk every day after work. This prevents that feeling of ‘being holed up’ all day. When your home is the space you work from, feeling ‘holed up’ is the last thing you want to feel. Having simply daily rituals anchors your day and boosts your productivity by preventing burn outs.

5. Learn to identify the triggers

The first thing we spoke about was to not depend on triggers for switching off from work and tuning in to yourself. However, knowing how to identify triggers is also important. It can be hard to take notice of these if its been a while since you’ve turned your focus to yourself. If you are feeling jittery, unproductive and dissatisfied – these are some definite signs. It is like your mind is turning on an alarm for you to pay attention to what it wants to communicate to you. Which is, to switch off from work and to tune in to yourself and give your soul some pampering.

Do you have problems switching off, when you work from home? What is your tactic to handle this problem?

Post by Shreeradha Mishra
Shreeradha is a development professional who loves her work. She is an avid observer of life and enjoys penning down her experiences and learning from the world of work. You can get in touch with her at shreeradha@obolinx.com.

The Work from Home Woes and Dealing with Them

The Work from Home Woes and Dealing with Them

If you are someone who works from home, chances are you are constantly struggling to balance your expectation of productivity versus the reality. Working from home affords you a number of comforts such as flexibility over your schedule, time saved due to lack of commute and not to mention comfy clothes! To every situation however, there is a flip-side. In this post we explore what we call Work from Home Woes, and explore ways of tackling them.

Work From Home Woes #1: Procrastination

The very first obstacle that every professional who works from home encounters is procrastination. When you work from home, you begin the day with the illusion that you have the entire day to get a task done. This thought enables you to put off your work until the very last-minute and then you realize that the day is almost over! It is only then that you rush to finish the tasks, often working into late hours which has an adverse impact on your work life balance.

Procrastination is a vice that most of us face, whether we are working from a formal environment or from home. To tackle this, make your mind up to follow the “eat the frog” method, first thing in the morning. No, we are not suggesting you eat harmless froggies for breakfast, but what it means is, get the most difficult task out-of-the-way, the first thing in the morning. Once that is done, your productivity gets boosted automatically.

Work From Home Woes #2: Distractions

When in a formal work set up, distractions are comparatively fewer because work spaces are designed keeping this aspect in mind. You are less likely to spend time on the phone, or on Facebook when you know your supervisor may pop up unannounced. Besides, watching colleagues working spurs you into action, and you are less vulnerable to getting carried away by distractions. However, when you work from home you are prone to a zillion distractions, and even end up creating them for yourself. The television, noisy neighbors or family members, Netflix – the list would really never end if we started.

The solution here is to create a distraction free work zone, even if you are working from home. There are a few simple ways you can do that. Take care of the physical aspects such as letting your family know that you are working and to call upon you only when absolutely necessary. Remove the clutter from your work space, so it helps you retain your focus on work. Put your phone on silent, and disable notifications for your desktop. One effective way of dealing with distractions which may be internal or external is to divide up your day and tasks into 60 or 90 minute slots.

Simply focus on the one task for the allotted time, completely tuning out from everything else that may pose as a distraction. Another way of making this sustainable, and feeling good about yourself is setting simple rewards at the end of the day – if you feel satisfied with your productivity. A piece of cake, or an extra hour of Netflix – simple, yet effective. Like Tony Robbins once said, “feed your focus, starve your distractions”, and soon there will be no distractions.

Work from Home Woes #3: Isolation

It may get a bit lonely when you work from home. If you are an entrepreneur or a part of a team which functions from remote locations, the odds are you don’t get to have a lot of human interaction on a day-to-day basis. This can get to even the most introverted people. When you work from a formal set up, you meet colleagues and have a chance at engaging in conversation. Whereas, working from home minimally limits that option.

In which case, you have to make up for face time by consciously increasing your interaction with your team and peers through intensive communication and collaboration. Pick up the phone and talk to people more, take every opportunity to collaborate, create mailing groups to inform and be informed – just because you are not physically present in the office doesn’t mean you can’t be a present and active member of your team. If you are an entrepreneur, make it a point to be a part of groups of similar people who meet up once in a while and exchange ideas. A healthy dose of interaction is absolutely crucial to your productivity.

Work from Home Woes #4: Lack of Routine

Working from home comes along with that amazing feeling of being your own boss. There is however, a slight (not) problem attached. This knowledge of being your own boss can often induce a lack of discipline in your routine. Which means, you end up feeling unproductive – one of the worst feelings ever.

Even if you work from home, especially if you work from home, create a strict routine for yourself. Have a morning routine where you wake up at a fixed time every day. How you start your day has a definite impact on the progress of your day. Exercising and getting some fresh air, and a good breakfast is an imperative to having a fulfilling and productive day, or so we believe. Even if you do not have to go out to get to your workplace, make sure that you set strict working hours for yourself. Get to your desk by 9 AM, or a time you feel suits you, and go through your day in a time bound manner – just like you would if you were working in a formal environment.

Work from Home Woes #5: Getting bogged with Domestic Drudgery

Another peril of working from home is getting bogged down with domestic drudgery. There are ample things that we allow ourselves to procrastinate with – cleaning, organizing, doing our laundry, the list goes on. Being present at home while working does not help take your mind off from the dishes or the laundry or the cooking that needs to be done. This can retard your productivity to a greater extent than you can imagine. Domestic chores take up a lot of time. If we allow ourselves to get distracted by them, they won’t ever stop snatching our attention away from tasks that really need it.

So we’re saying…

Let go of things that do not need your immediate attention. Prioritize and see if a certain domestic task is a priority. While this may be an exception, do not make it a rule. It is worthwhile seeking help with the chores, so you are not constantly struggling to maintain balance. Speak with your family and divide up the chores. You could also hire a help if you are in a place to afford it. Delegating these tasks go a long way in fueling your productivity.

Being able to work from home can be the best thing that ever happened to you. Only, you need to be able to tackle the woes we just spoke about. And like you just read, it may not be all that difficult to put those woes away. All it takes is a strong mind, and a healthy body. With that combination, there will be no mountain you cannot scale – we mean it in a literal and metaphorical sense. Working from home can feel like a blessing – you get the gift of time because you end up saving so much time. Which means, you have a chance to get more done, and also a chance for more ‘me – time’. Win – win, then? We’d say yes!

The Ethics for Working from Home – Some Guiding Principles

The Ethics for Working from Home – Some Guiding Principles

With the work from home culture gaining popular acceptance, we thought it is a good idea to talk about the guiding principles and ethics for working from home. While this option does guarantee a great deal of flexibility and comes with a promise of increased productivity, it also comes with a built-in premise. You are in a position of trust and with Trust comes Responsibility. As Oprah has said – Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.

From our experiences as an employee and employer operating in the remote working model, here are the ethics for working from home that we hold sacrosanct:

1. Adhering to work timings

If you are expected to work from 10am to 6pm, ensure that you are at your work table sharp by 10 and stick around till 6. The work from home option affords you a great deal of liberties and cutting down on your work hours isn’t and shouldn’t be one of them. Get as much as you can done within your working hours, focusing only work as your primary priority during these hours.

2. A strict no personal calls/ errands rule

This is something you would mind if you were operating out of an office cubicle, and something you should mind even when you are operating out of the comfort of your home. Take personal calls only when extremely urgent, and not without leaving a note for your team/ manager, explaining the reason. The same goes for running personal errands.

3. Being available and reachable

A prerequisite for working from home is always being reachable and available. Unlike a regular job, there isn’t a desk you can be found at. This means you always need to be accessible on phone/ email. There could be very little margin for error regarding the same, and scope for excuses like “my phone didn’t have charge”, or “there wasn’t internet connectivity”. In case you aren’t going to be available, make sure you find a way to send the message to your team. Do read this post where we talk about everything in terms of infrastructure that you need to start working from home, or as we would like to call it, the essentials for working from home – http://obolinx.com/resources/2016/03/start-working-from-home/.

4. Honesty

A work from home job is one which needs you to be honest with yourself, as well as your team. It is easy to compromise on the input, and make the output seem sufficient. It may be easy to pull it off at times, but in the long run it’s not going to leave you in a great place, or have you feel good about yourself. In our earlier posts, we have stressed continuously on the fact that work from home roles are strictly for those who have the ability for self-motivation and self-discipline. This probably, would be the most important of the ethics for working from home, and is a given expectation from you!

5. Making an effort to communicate

Having a job where you work from home can often become depressing, especially if you are a social butterfly. It isn’t the best way for an introvert to learn better communication skills, either. So regardless of what kind your personality is, it is important to make an effort to communicate with your colleagues on a regular basis and not isolate yourself. It is easy for communication to take place when you operate out of a traditional office environment. And what may seem as small talk, is often crucial to your own work, and the team’s work in general, because exchanging notes gives you a feel of where you stand with respect to your work and also a sense of cohesiveness with your team – which is very essential for you to be productive and happy at work!

 To Sum It Up

A work from home opportunity, is a great opportunity to get more done, with least investments, and the most output. Today, management leaders around the world are exploring this option to try to build amazing teams – remotely. Though written more from an employer’s perspective, “Remote: office not required”, by Fried and Hansson is an insightful read for how working from remote locations is truly an enabler, more than anything else. We hope that you agree with our take on the Ethics for Working from Home. We would love to hear back from you!

Note: At OBOlinx Tech, we provide flexible work from home option for our team. We have experienced firsthand the advantages and disadvantages of working in this mode both as an employer and as an employee. With clear goal settings, a strong process framework, much patience, some discipline and a steady flow of two-way communication, we KNOW this business model can work and is here to stay. This is the future of work and the future is already here.

Everything You Need to Start Working From Home

Everything You Need to Start Working From Home

Companies have slowly come to realize that working from home is the most in-demand type of work flexibility benefit that job seekers are interested in, and more and more companies have started offering remote working options.  It is a trend that is here to stay. With working from home gaining increasing professional acceptance and becoming one of the most viable options for people across the social strata, a lot is being debated upon about the finer nuances of this phenomenon. In our earlier posts, we have spoken about the pros and cons about working from home. In this post we talk about everything you need to start working from home, or as we would like to call it, the essentials for working from home. So if you are looking to start working from home, or to make working from home really work for you, here are all the resources that we think you need to make it a success:

1. Your Desk and Your Chair

It makes sense to invest in minimalistic yet comfortable office furniture – especially your desk and chair since that is what you will be using the most. This is almost as important, or even more important than buying a pair of jeans that fit perfectly and look good too! Don’t settle for the first piece of furniture you set your eyes on. Do a bit of window shopping first. Make sure the chair is suited to your posture and is adequately comfy and completely at level with your desk. We are all aware of the extremely uncomfortable back aches and neck aches from long hours of sitting at our desks which are further amplified by impersonal and uncomfortable office furniture. Since you are setting up your office from home, chances are you will be spending a lot more time working than you would if you went to an actual office. It is completely worth your while to go the extra mile and pick out the perfect desk and chair for yourself!

2. Lighting –

Lighting is another crucial factor that influences your productivity and concentration, not to mention how good lighting is actually a comfort we rarely appreciate. It is important to set up your work space where you have access to both natural as well as artificial lighting. As far as viable, set up your workstation close to a window (preferably with your back to it, or with it to your side, so that you don’t get too distracted with the view outside). Apart from letting in natural light, it also helps with keeping the room properly ventilated. Coming to artificial lighting, it is better to invest in soft artificial lighting than fluorescent lighting which is harsh on your eyes. Choose a desk light, as well as an overhead light so that you can adjust the lighting according to the amount of natural light you have available.

3. Computer and WiFi, and related accessories

One of the biggest drawbacks of working from home is that the IT department will not be just a buzz away. You are pretty much left to fend for yourself to efficiently optimize (but first make appropriate investments) the tools at your disposal. A good desktop/laptop with rich video and audio capabilities, a dependable high-speed internet service provider, a basic but well-functioning printer/ scanner, earphones with mike are some of the most essential accessories you must invest in while setting up your workstation at home. Choose brands which are known for their customer service so that there is some hope to be bailed out when you are in the middle of a technical crisis. Keep the customer service numbers handy (look for a representative’s number, go an extra mile to establish a professional relationship if necessary, it saves you many annoying minutes of waiting on-line before they transfer your call to the representative responsible!). Once again, this is another area where we would recommend you to compromise as little as possible and go for something you are confident will fit your requirements, and most importantly is crisis proof to some extent at least.

4. Phone

Now that you will be working from home, most of your interaction will be virtual. And the most important medium for the same is your phone, of course. We recommend investing both in a land phone as well as a smart phone, so that you stay connected even if one of these fail you. Having a good smart phone (even if you are not all that tech savvy) with a dependable network is crucial. Even if your system fails you, you will still have access to email, Skype and other forms of communication tools on your smart phone. It also helps you stay connected and in sync with what’s happening, even if you are physically away from your workstation. We know that a land phone is a little old school, but it is still worth investing in one, when you are setting up your office from home. It is important to have enough choices for communication, so in case one fails, there is another available and you are not insulated from the world of work!

5. Tools and Technology –

Going back to what we said in number four about not having the luxury of an IT department at your beck and call, it is absolutely mandatory for you to figure out all the tools and technology that you need. Start with a full proof data back-up system. Imagine your drive giving up on you, or your system crashing in the middle of something very important and you being left in a lurch! Use Cloud technologies (Read Five Ways the Cloud can rev up Operational Excellence for your Startup or Small Business) and make sure you sync your data as frequently as possible. In fact make it a habit to do that first thing in the morning and last thing as you wind up for the day. Create back up using a combination of three things – use mirrored drives such as RAID 1 to protect you in case of drive failures, program (or have it programmed) an internal disk for daily backups in case of a system crash, and of course online backup systems like Dropbox, Cloud or Google Drives. Technological advances have made the concept of a digital office so much more easier – there is a tool or app for almost anything. Delve into the online world for any area – be it collaboration, time management, social media – and there are so amazing tools available that can help improve your business productivity as an organization or as an individual. (Check a few of our favourite tools that have helped improve everyday performance and productivity here.)

6. Power Protection

Wow! Who would have ever known how indispensable an IT and admin department is (who we always take for granted!) until we set up for work from home. Once again, you are your own resource when it comes to power back up. If you already have access to 24/7 power backup, thank your stars. If you don’t, invest in a dependable UPS and an inverter. If these options seem out of your budget, at least invest in a simple, but dependable UPS which at least gives you a few minutes to save your work and shut down safely if there is a black out!

7. Storage –

Apart from having ample storage space for your software, create options for storing all the paper work, files, books, etc., that are definitely going to pile up. It probably isn’t a great idea to wake up to (which you will, because now you don’t have an office to go to) piles of papers and files strewn around your workstation (even if you aren’t a neat freak). Also, remember that since you now work out of home, you clean your own mess, there isn’t anyone else who is going to be helping you with that. Plan for some basic, built storage spaces and invest in some file organizers and other stationary to keep your paperwork organized (we are starting to sound like real consumerists here!). You would be spoilt for choice when you browse the office stationary section on Amazon, we are sure!

8. To do list/ Planner

We don’t know if you are crazy about stationary items like we are at Oorja Biz Ops, but being stocked on stationary should definitely be a priority when you are setting up your workstation at home. Apart from the regular supplies of pens, pencils, stapler, et al, get a planner for yourself or big enough sticky notes for writing down your everyday to-do lists. Having a planner or a to do list helps you pursue your day in a coherent way and gives you an idea about how much you were able to accomplish as against what you had planned for yourself. It is also important to set realistic goals which you can actually accomplish, and not just make a list of everything that’s on your mind and feel guilty for not having done enough, at the end of the day. If you are a fan of apps, well go back to point 5, there are tons of free/freemium apps for productivity to help you get things done.

9. Vision Board –

A great way to keep yourself inspired. Create or buy a pin board and turn it into your very own personal vision board. Pin up your ambitions, long-term or/and short-term goals, any quotes or photographs that inspire you and definitely a graph of how you see yourself growing in your career over the next few months/years (which you are of course free to keep adapting and editing as you move along). We’d recommend keeping the vision board as career oriented as possible so that it minimizes other distractions. For example, maybe putting up a picture of your dog who is no more with you would only pull you down on a bad day, not motivate or inspire you. Make you vision board your personal ‘feel good’ or motivation corner.

10. Small Luxuries

What is the use of working from home if you don’t get to enjoy some of the most coveted advantages? Entitle yourself to small luxuries like a coffee machine, a neck pillow, maybe even a music system to help you relax when you are taking breaks. Make the process fun by bringing in small things that would make you happy and look forward to getting up to work every day. If you love flowers, have flowers at your workstation. Have a well-stocked small refrigerator in the room. Maybe even a secret stash of chocolates so you reward yourself when you feel you’ve done a good job. And perhaps, the uninhibited access to your pet’s attention because that is what makes all the difference at times!

The kind of work environment you create is a reflection of yourself. Put some effort into making your workspace at home a dedicated work zone, with minimum distractions. By minimum distractions we don’t mean dull and boring, make it as colorful and quirky as you wish but all those quirks should motivate you to be productive and creative, not distract you. When you choose the option to work from home, you make a conscious choice which comes with the two embedded qualities of dedication and sincerity. While it is important to be focused on your work and set aside all the distractions you may have while working from home, it is equally important to not let yourself get too absorbed by the work. When you start working from home full-time, you might start pushing yourself more than you would be, were you a regular office goer. Make sure you see enough of sunshine and have enough human contact to help preserve your sanity and health!

Note: At OBOlinx Tech, we provide flexible work from home option for our team. We have experienced firsthand the advantages and disadvantages of working in this mode both as an employer and as an employee. With clear goal settings, a strong process framework, much patience, some discipline and a steady flow of two-way communication, we KNOW this business model can work and is here to stay. This is the future of work and the future is already here.

We hoped you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you. Do you work from home as well? What are some of the essentials to start working from home you absolutely cannot function without? Do you a question or problem that you need our help on? We’d love to hear from you!

Need more information on the latest telecommuting trends ? Download the free PGi Global Telework Survey report here to learn more about:

  • The rise of the teleworker, including the top technologies and alternative workspaces enabling them to work outside the office;
  • The global shift in knowledge worker demands, including the ideal flex schedule around the world;
  • And why, despite wanting to leave the cubicle, non-teleworkers haven’t left the office—yet.

How to Succeed at Freelancing in India – Your Essential Guide

The concept of Freelancing has been fast to catch on in India, and can be just the thing for people aspiring for more freedom and flexibility in their work. At Oorja Biz Ops, some of us have been there and done that, and thought it would be useful to compile some market data and our experiences into a quick and essential guide on how to succeed at Freelancing in India. This is for those of you who are considering or are walking on this road of freelancing. If you are looking to quit your full-time job to work as a freelancer and perhaps set out to achieve your entrepreneurial ambitions, here are some things you need to know.

How to Succeed at Freelancing in India – What is Freelancing?

Simply put, freelancing is working for yourself. You are a “free agent” and choose your own clients. You are self-employed and hired to work for different companies on particular assignments. There are multiple interpretations now of the freelancing term.  You could be one of the following types of freelancers:

Independent contractors: Their work is project based, however they do not have an employer.

Moonlighters: They do freelance work in addition to their day job – after work and/or weekends

Diversified workers: They have various sources of employment, mixing traditional jobs with freelance.

Temporary workers: Their work is project based, but they have a single temporary employer.

Freelance business owners: They could be sole proprietors or have hired a small team, but are essentially freelancers .

Note: When we say, freelancing is working for yourself – the key word here is WORKING. Many people enter into freelancing thinking it is an easy way to be your own boss, or perhaps sit at home earning money doing nothing. Nothing could be farther from the reality. It is very hard being a freelancer, perhaps harder than being in a regular job. According to a study cited in The Economist, freelancers work an average of 6% more hours per week compared to those in employment. If you want a fulfilling freelancing career, YOU HAVE TO WORK very very hard for it. But then nothing good ever came easy, right? Our Essential Guide on How to Succeed at Freelancing in India  is intended to make you aware of some of these challenges and help you get prepared so that you can enter into the “Fun” stage of freelancing.

How to Succeed at Freelancing in India – What Can You Do?

The right question to ask here is – what are the in-demand skills in the freelancing market that match my skills and area of expertise? If you want to have a long term and successful freelance career, offer a service that you know people want. Choosing something you love doing without checking whether there is a market for that is a folly. As Kelly James-Enger, author of Six Figure Freelancing says:

“‘Follow your heart and do what you love’ is just a slogan. You need to get real. If you’re not offering a service people are willing to spend money on, you’re not going to be in business [for long].”

Here are some of the skill categories that are popular in India and an approximate wage range for each of them (Source – Economic Times):

How to Succeed at Freelancing in India – How to Price Yourself?

Setting and negotiating rates often feels like one of the most complicated and intimidating parts of freelancing. In order to set a rate that is appropriate for your skills, education and experience a freelancer must first understand the freelance market. Payoneer surveyed over 23,000 freelancers worldwide in order to determine the average hourly rates charged by freelancers. Here are some key findings:

  • The worldwide average hourly rate charged by freelancers is $21
  • Over three quarters of respondents are male (78%)
  • Freelance professionals work an average of 36 hours per week (7 hours per day for a 5-day work week)
  • The worldwide income satisfaction level of freelancers is 46%
  • Over 80% of the professionals surveyed work on 1 to 3 jobs at a time
  • Almost half of freelancers find projects via online marketplaces
  • The preferred social media channel to promote freelancing skills is Facebook

Now the India specific data (Read the full report here) :

  • The average hourly rate charged by freelancers in India is $19
  • Almost half of the clients that Indian freelancers work with are based in Asia, The Americas are also an important region, with over a quarter of the professionals’ clients residing there.
  • On average, freelancers with a higher level of education are charging more. This suggests that hiring companies and professionals do take education into account when selecting their freelancers, in addition to their experience, portfolio, and skills.
  • Professionals in Sales & Marketing are not only the most hard working, but also hold the highest level of income satisfaction in India (followed closely by freelancers in Finance & Management, and IT & Programming), while those in Writing & Translation are at the lowest level of satisfaction as well as working the fewest hours per week. It appears that there is a direct correlation between hours of work and income satisfaction, suggesting that many freelancers would ideally like to find more work.
  • The worldwide satisfaction level of Indian freelancers is at 36%.

The table below from Upwork (Previously Elance-Odesk) will give an indicative idea on the average rate per hour that you could earn on the skills that are in demand internationally. These wage numbers come from the combined databases of Elance and Upwork, and are based on the average hourly rate for each skill between January 1 and May 31, 2015.

How to Succeed at Freelancing in India – Where Do I Find Work?

Want to break a leg in the world of freelancing? Start networking! The first and the best gigs that you get will most likely be through your own network. Meet up regularly with people who you think would be open to outsourcing or can recommend you to someone who would.  Shamelessly tap your friends/relatives and into their networks. Use social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to spread the word. The biggest challenge in Freelancing is finding enough clients on a regular basis to give you the income you need sustainably. And for that, branding yourself and marketing your skills and expertise effectively becomes critical. You have to keep putting yourself out there till you build a reputation – then people start coming to you !

Sign up/register with Freelance communities and marketplaces to get a steady flow of work and more choice.  The most popular international freelance sites are Upwork.com and Freelancer.com. Fiverr.com too is popular Indian websites, too, are gaining popularity with some niche sites as well. However, do conduct a background check before you engage with these websites.
(Source – Economic Times – note that Elance is now Upwork)

How to Succeed at Freelancing in India – Mind-Shifts that You Need to Make:

Freelancing definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Things change. And things change rapidly. Your success or failure completely depends on You.  Most of the changes would have to be in your mindset – your thoughts and approach to situations and your ability to plan and decide. Here are five things you need to know before making the big shift from quitting your full time job to becoming a freelancer:

  1. Finance: The comfort and assurance of a pay check at the end of the month will no longer exist. Along with all the joys of being a freelancer also comes the risk of financial insecurity. Start with calculating the minimum income you need (be realistic!) to sustain your lifestyle, then work out the income you need to cover the “bare essentials”. Before you ditch your full-time job to commit to full-time freelancing, be certain that you can earn atleast enough to meet the minimum initially. We recommend having a nest egg to cover your expenses for the first three months atleast (more if you are the sole income earner in the household). Incomes from freelancing go from feast to famine and back again pretty much as a norm. Be prepared. There is a lot of cost cutting and budget planning you will have to meticulously do to be able to spend and save responsibly. And for sure, it has to be more saving (including investments for the future like insurance, etc.) than spending.
  2. Time: How you use your time is paramount and the sole condition to your success. You will realize that “time is money”, and the method in which you time and plan your work will be directly proportional to how much you are able to earn. It is easy to get into the schedule of a workaholic, which is something you should ideally be careful of. Remember, it is only when you enjoy your work that you will be able to sustain yourself and your business.
  3. Abilities and Skills: Once a freelancer, you are solely responsible for your growth. Your learning and skill development could either come to a grinding halt, because you would have no direct motivation to invest time in it anymore, or you could, once in every few months, look back, re-assess and re-plan. Stay abreast to stay competitive.
  4. Resources aka Technology and Tools: It will be solely your responsibility to set up your own support framework in terms of technology and tools, and ensure that it does not let you down. You know, as well as we do, that when this one thing goes wrong, you will lose out on money, time and since time is money, both. Capitalize on your strengths, and do not be afraid to delegate what you are not good at, because trying to micromanage everything never quite works.
  5. Staying Afloat: When you took, or take, the decision to become a freelancer, it was solely yours. It is essential that you do so, keeping all the pros and cons in mind. It is quite a daunting task to be able to go out there all on your own and pursue your aspirations. Every time you feel the pressure getting to you, keep reminding yourself why you ended up there in the first place, so that you stay afloat.

To work for yourself, be your own boss AND have a steadily increasing income is a dream for most. Only very few have the courage and the attitude to transform this into reality. There is no better time than today to be a freelancer in this new open-work, skill driven economy. And as our mentor, Seth Godin says (Check out his course for freelancers) – Each of us gets to choose the sort of freelance work we will do. This is a profound freedom, and one that we often ignore, wasting the opportunity…….When you move up the ladder, step by step, the work gets more rewarding. We each start as a replaceable cog, open to taking whatever is offered. With focus and effort, though, you can go all the way to becoming a remarkable creator with few substitutes. Along the way, you will gain respect, income and freedom.

What did you think of our Essential Guide for Freelancing in India – we would love to hear back from you. If you are a freelancer, we welcome you to share your feedback on this post and/or your experiences as a freelancer for our readers. If you want to become a freelancer and have a question that we have not answered, ask away here or email us at contact@oorjabizops.com if you want to keep your aspirations confidential.

Happy Freelancing Journey!

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